Sunday, January 22, 2017
Sunday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time - Matthew 3:1-12
The Gospel for today focuses on John the Baptist. When John began preaching in the desert of Judea he proclaimed this message: “Reform your lives! The reign of God is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken: “A herald’s voice in the desert; prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his path.” It is in the wilderness where “the highway of our God” will be found.
John typically wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt. He also had a strange diet that consisted of grasshoppers and wild honey. John’s mission was to prepare the way for the One who would come after him. Typically crowds of people came out to hear John preach and he baptized many people in the Jordan River. However, when John realized that many of the Pharisees and Sadducees wished to be baptized, he soundly rebuked them saying: “You brood of vipers! Who told you to flee from the wrath to come? If you wish to be baptized, show proof that you mean to reform your lives. Don’t just claim that you will reform your lives; words alone simply are not sufficient.”
John then adds: “I baptize you with water for the sake of reform, but there is one who will come and he will baptize in the Holy Spirit and with fire. He will clear the threshing floor and gather his grain into barn and the chaff will be burned in an unquenchable fire!” John called the people to repentance. Repentance (the Greek word, metanoia) is not simply turning away from our past way of life; rather it is the beginning of a new path to life, which typically is signified by the rite of Baptism. Today and everyday we are called to reform our lives. No matter how much we strive to be better human beings, we always have room to grow. Today, ask yourself: how can I live a better life today? May you strive to do so.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 3:20-21
Immediately after calling His disciples, Jesus returned to the house with the disciples. Again a large crowd gathered around Him anxious to hear Him speak. However, this made it impossible for Jesus and the disciples to get any food. When his family heard of this, they came to take charge of Jesus saying: “He is out of his mind!”
What was it that caused Jesus’ relatives to believe that “he was out of his mind?” Was it because his words sounded foreign to them? Were they trying to make him believe and behave as they did? Or perhaps they had not yet realizes that Jesus was much more than their relative! They simply were unable to comprehend who Jesus was!
I suspect that at times, this also is true of our families; at times family members may not understand our beliefs or our behaviors. Yet hopefully, our families will continue to love us, even when they may not agree with us. We also need to respect our family members’ choices; we simply do have not the right to judge what may be right for someone else. Today may we strive to not judge others! Today, we may give the gift of non-judgment!
Friday, January 20, 2017
Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 3:13-19
Today Jesus appoints “the Twelve,” the disciples who would become His closest companions. Jesus wants to send them forth to spread His message of the “Good News.” He also gives them the power to drive out demons. He then sends them forth to preach and teach.
I wonder how the disciples responded to Jesus calling them to follow Him? Were they excited? Amazed? Or were they shocked and perhaps a bit apprehensive? Did they believe that they also would have the power to do wondrous works?
Today Jesus calls us! Today Jesus calls you and me to “do good” for others! Daily Jesus asks us to spread His Word and His Love. How do we respond? Do we trust that we have gifts to share? Will we trust that Jesus will be with us and guide us? We are blessed! Today may we share our blessings with everyone we encounter!
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 3:7-12
The opening words of today’s Gospel state that Jesus and his disciples withdrew from the crowds. I would imagine that Jesus simply needed time for rest, quiet and peace. Crowds are usually draining — especially if everybody wants your attention!
However, this was not to be. A good number of people from various regions and cities followed Jesus. Despite His longing for quiet and peace, Jesus cured many people. However, as word of His power spread, more and more people kept coming to Jesus. The Gospel also says that unclean spirits shouted out to Jesus. These spirits recognized Jesus as the Son of God.
Who is Jesus to us? Do we truly recognize Him as the Son of God? Do we have a personal relationship with Jesus? Or is He simply a figure in the Bible? Do we only want Jesus to heal us so we can go on about our lives? If so, will we approach Him and ask Him for what we desire?
Perhaps the more important question is: do we desire a personal relationship with Jesus? This relationship is the greatest gift we can have! Perhaps we should ask for a deeper relationship with Jesus. Will we?
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 3:1-6
Today the Pharisees continue to monitor what Jesus is doing. As Jesus goes into the synagogue, He sees a man seated there who has a withered hand. Jesus quietly and simply asks the man to come to Him. Then Jesus turns to the Pharisees and asks them if it is lawful to “d0 good” on the Sabbath. Yes, it was the Sabbath. However, was it better to heal someone or was it better to ignore their suffering?
The Pharisees did not know how to respond. They just kept silent. Jesus was deeply saddened and angry at the hardness of the Pharisees’ hearts. Jesus then turns to the man and quietly asks him to stretch out his hand. The man does so and immediately his hand is healed!
What is “withered” in our lives? What is the healing that we long for? Are we ready to “stretch our hand” and ask Jesus to heal us? Do we trust that Jesus will respond to us? Do we have faith that Jesus will heal us in some way (even if it is not the one we hope for?) Jesus is waiting for us! Will we come?