Jesus explains the purpose of the parables in the Gospel for Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time. Parables give spiritual enlightenment as a lamp gives light. ” ‘Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lamp stand?’ ” (Mark 4: 21). I wonder how the light of Christ shines forth in me. What obstacles block the light? Is it fear of failure, lack of confidence, ill health, depression, too many distractions, or something else? How about you?
Jesus responds to questions about his family in the Gospel for the Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas. “For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3: 35). Jesus compares our relationship with God to our family relationships. Those who strive to do God’s will are as close to God as to a sibling or parent. My brother and I cherish our loving relationship. We have known each other even longer than our closest friends and spouses. Whenever I do God’s will, I am close to God and God to me. We are family. How do experience kinship with Christ?
In the Gospel for Monday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time, the Pharisees charge Jesus with demonic possession. They claim he drives out demons by the power of Satan: ” ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul’ … ‘By the prince of demons he drives out demons’ … ‘He has an unclean spirit’ ” (Mark 3: 22, 30). If he was possessed by a devil, Jesus argues, he would be driving demons into people and not driving them out. Today’s Christians know Jesus does not have an unclean spirit. They profess Jesus is God incarnate. Yet, like the Pharisees, we sometimes doubt Jesus’ authority. We know Jesus is God with us. We are not sure that he really has power over suffering, sin, and death. How much trust do you put in the power of God in Christ Jesus?
David spares King Saul’s life in the Reading for the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales. King Saul thanks him. “Great is the generosity you showed me today, when the LORD delivered me into your grasp and you did not kill me” (1 Samuel 24: 19). How incredibly generous is our God who breathes life into us every day! Everything we have is an unmerited gift from God. God’s generous love inspires our loving generosity towards others. How do you share God’s generosity?
Jesus cures a paralytic in the Gospel for the Memorial of St. Anthony, Abbot. Four men lower the paralytic through the roof. Jesus is impressed with his faith. Jesus forgives his sins and cures his paralysis. The paralytic stands up and walks. The witnesses “were all astounded and glorified God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this’ ” (Mark 2:12). What amazing things has God done for you?
Jesus cleanses the leper in the Gospel for Thursday of the First Week in Ordinary Time. “Moved with pity, he [Jesus] stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean’. The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean” (Mark 1 41-42). Jesus cleanses the leper with his compassionate and healing touch. As a parent and spouse, I know the healing power of a touch. I washed and cleaned my sons’ bruises when they fell off their bikes. I hugged my wife when her parents died. How do you extend the healing touch of Jesus to those in pain?
The Reading for Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time recalls the story of the call of the Prophet Samuel. “When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, ‘Samuel, Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’ ” (I Samuel 3: 10). The Lord wants Samuel as his prophet. Samuel agrees. The Lord pledges support. What is the Lord calling you to do today?
Jesus calls his disciples in the Gospel for Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time. “ ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Then they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1: 17-18). I am impressed with the disciples’ responses. They literally “dropped everything” to follow Jesus. Did Jesus impress them so? Were they ready for a change? Does the evangelist exaggerate their reactions? Whatever happened, the spiritual message is clear. The disciples gave of themselves intentionally, urgently, and wholeheartedly for Jesus’ mission. What is your mission from God today?
Jesus cleanses a leper in the Gospel for the Friday after Epiphany. The leper pleads, ” ‘Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean’. Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do will it. Be made clean’. And the leprosy left him immediately” (Luke 5: 12b-13). The leper believed in Jesus healing power, He trusted Jesus would make good on his promise of glad tidings to the poor. Jesus cured him. The leper’s trust gives me pause. I trust Jesus. Do I trust he will keep his promises? Do I trust in his loving care? Even in times of physical or mental illness, unemployment, divorce, and other adversities? How about you?
In the Gospel for Thursday after Epiphany, Jesus announces his commission from God. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor” (Luke 4: 18a). Baptism commissions us to do the same. The waters of Baptism give us new life in Christ through the Holy Spirit. The oil of Baptism anoints us for the mission. The light of the Baptismal candle commissions us to go forth with glad tidings. The Spirit of the Lord is upon us, because he has anointed us to bring glad tidings to the poor! How have you gladden the hearts and lives of those in need.