Time after time I have mentioned how much I love to read St. Mark’s gospel. He manifests many qualities that I admire, and to me, those qualities are symbolically very powerful. He’s brief, he’s cryptic, direct, blunt and truthful. However, you pay a price for all those brief staccato sentences, because many of them require expansion or interpretation, and that’s not too easy since St. Mark has been gone for over 1900 years. That means we have to do the best we can, but not claim divine guidance in the process.
In the first section of today’s exerpt, Jesus tells the apostles not to worry, or be jealous of others outside their circle who are going around doing things like Jesus and the apostles had been doing. Our Lord implies profoundly that when people are doing good, God is working through them, and therefore they should be accepted and trusted.
What Jesus was saying is that when we are looking at the actions of others, we ought to put the best possible interpretation on those actions. We should TRY to trust those with whom we are sharing life.
And then, our Lord turns on a dime, and begins to blast those who give scandal- who do evil things and encourage others to do evil. Mark quotes Jesus as saying that “if our right hand scandalizes us, we should cut it off. If our foot does the same evil, it should be cut off, and the same holds true with the eye.”
What we have here, of course, is Jesus using strong figures of speech to make a point. Feet do not cause scandal. Hands do not cause scandal. When scandalous actions are manifested, the evil is not in the physical reality that is present, but in the human mind and will. That person knows evil, and still chooses it.
Our Lord is really talking about two important things that occurs almost constantly in our daily life. First, he commands that we be trusting and patient with those around us, and to give them good example of how one of His followers ought to live. Then He stresses the destructiveness of BAD example, especially when it is carried out in a manner that is hurtful to young people.
Posts tagged: Lord
Today is the day that most of the world has been looking back to for 2,000 years. Today is the day to which the ancient world looked towards, not with clear knowledge but with undying hope. Today is the day that makes up for everything else that is sad and disappointing in the human story.
Today is the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth.
The fact that medieval historians were about four years off regarding the date of the birth of our Lord is of no consequence. What does matter is that HE CAME; that God stepped into the human story and joined us in our lives, in our travails, in our journey and, ultimately, in our triumph.
I would like to say something very profound about Christmas but I can’t. The day speaks for itself. All that I can say is that HE CAME and by that fact, we are all eternally blessed.
Have a happy Christmas.
For today’s excerpt, I have again chosen the first reading. It is from the seventh chapter of Isaiah and it portrays a dramatic confrontation between Ahaz, an evil king of the Israelites, and Yahweh, the Lord himself. Ahaz has lost his faith in Yahweh and is trying to make political arrangements that will protect the Israelites from a threatened war. King Ahaz has been warned to place his trust in the Lord and not in the armies of neighboring nations but he refuses to do so. Finally, Yahweh says to him, “Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God.” Ahaz, still a faithless king, says, “I will not test the Lord.” It is a false answer because he really does not have the necessary faith and so Yahweh himself answers, “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you this sign. A virgin shall be with child and bear a son and shall name him Emmanuel.”
There it is, my friends. The coming of the Messiah is announced. There it is. The statement about the arrival of Jesus Christ, the salvation of us all. We thank God for that promise of salvation as we prepare for the great feast of Christmas, the feast of the Lord’s birth.
I note that some people get distressed at the frequent efforts by some of the forces in our society to downplay or even obliterate the great feast of Christmas. Regretfully, a large percentage of my Christmas cards wish me a “Happy Holidays.” These are not happy holidays. This is a time of glorious celebration of the redemption of the human family, God’s triumph over our weakness and the opening of the door into joyous eternal life.
Happy holidays indeed!
November 27th, First Sunday of Advent
If you wished your friends a happy New Year today, you would be a little bit early as far as the general public is concerned. New Year’s will fall a little more than a month from now on January 1, 2012. But today is the first day of a new year – the Church year, the ecclesiastical year, the liturgical year – they are all the same thing.
The message today is from St. Mark and St. Mark, as he usually is, is brief and direct. He quotes Jesus as telling us, “Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake! You do not know when the appointed time will come!”
From then on, the message is simple. It is awesomely important. Our Lord is simply telling us that we must lead our lives in such a way that we are always prepared for a sudden ending of our lives. The faith that we committed to last week on the Feast of Christ the King is a faith that guides us day by day, a faith that gives us a sense of direction, proportionality and balance. God loves us, he has given us life, he invites us to share in his life for all eternity. Our response is to be loving, faithful, committed to him, to walking in the footsteps of Jesus.
Again Jesus says, “What I say to you I say to all. Be on guard!”
I think that many of us fail to see that the liturgical year provides us with a constant sense of direction for our spiritual lives. In 52 weeks, the liturgy captures the whole story of the relationship between God and his creation. In the fall, Advent begins preparing us for the coming of Jesus. After Christmas, we deal with an adult Jesus proclaiming his basic message week by week. Lent brings opposition and ultimately our Lord’s death. He did not leave us alone. The Holy Spirit comes among us on Pentecost Sunday and with our own reception of Confirmation. Then, of course, follows 30 or so weeks that we call “Ordinary Time” that essentially center on various aspects of our Lord’s message.
We should all pay attention to that message today, the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, in which the texts challenge us to be responsible for how we live our lives, and to remember that there is a reality ahead of us called Judgment.
The whole journey will be over on November 20th when we celebrate the triumph of Jesus Christ as Christ the King. Let us go forward in faith.
Then on November 27th we begin again with Advent.
I really love last Sunday’s Gospel about Jesus coming to the apostles and their being terrified on seeing him approach walking on the water. However, I also love the first reading of last Sunday which describes Elijah being in a cave on Mount Horeb. The Lord tells Elijah to go to the mouth of the cave and wait because he, the Lord is passing by. The rest is simply beautiful and delightful. At first, Elijah hears terrifying sounds – long, powerful winds, crashing rocks, earthquakes and roaring fire but the Lord is not present in any of those. Finally, there is a tiny whisper and Elijah hides his face in his cloak because he knew that in the power of that silence the Lord was passing by.
Does that not happen in our own lives? We see people around us who are bombastic, loud and attempting to be overpowering, but that is usually a sign of great weakness. Then when we deal with a person who talks to us with a very soft and gentle voice, but a voice that contains strength and resolve, the power of God is present in that person. We, ourselves, should attempt to deal with those around us with the beautiful combination of gentleness and strength.
Let’s listen for the messages that come to us in tiny whispers. The Lord is passing by.
Well, we are still walking with our Lord as He continues on his way to Jerusalem. The Church uses the text from the 14th chapter of Luke about the subject of social humility. Prior to the Gospel, the book of Sirach introduces the subject of humility urging us to conduct our affairs with that virtue, as well as being prepared to “humble yourselves the more, the greater you are.” That leads us into that brief excerpt from Hebrews where the sacred author tells us that in making this journey we are being drawn to Mount Zion in the city of the living God. There we will experience extraordinary glory and be awed by God’s power manifested before us.
Humility and awe in relationship to God provides us with good first steps towards the Gospel itself. It tells us not to be seeking the spotlight, not to being on the top of the list or in the best places, but simply to move forward with a clear awareness that in relationship to the infinite power and glory of God we are humble indeed. If we see that relationship between ourselves and God, it should make it easier for us to see those with whom we are sharing life.