Sunday, January 19, 2020

Called to Be Holy

In his greeting to the Corinthians, Paul acknowledges that he has been called to be an apostle and that they have been called in Christ Jesus to be holy with all who call on the name of Jesus. (cf. 1 Cor 1). John the Baptist testified that Jesus was certainly the holy one upon whom the Holy Spirit descended is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit' he is the Son of God. (Jn 1:33-34)   We who have been baptized have also received the Holy Spirit, and have become sons and daughters of God, imperfect as we might be, but faced with the life-long task of measuring up to that new identity. We are assured that the strength to do this, as Isaiah said, "I am made glorious ij the sight of the Lord,/ and my God is now my strength!" (Is 49: 5).  On this Sunday dedicated as always to "resting in the Lord", may we basque in the light  and salvation that God has given us, and resolve to live up to our call to holiness..
Bro. Rene

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Week of Christian Unity

Today begins the annual Week of Christian Unity when Christians pray daily for the unity of the Church, a house divided since the 16th century when reformers, addressing the corruption in the Church of Rome, or for more personal reasons, as in England under King Henry VIII when he broke away from the Church of Rome.  Within our memory are the Popes John XXIII and Paul VI who wrote strong pleas for a return to unity.  Ut Unum Sint...that they may be one...the powerful encyclical of Pope John XXIII based on the priestly prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper:  (Jn 17: 21) still valid today, perhaps more so than ever in our gravely divided world.
A look at today's gospel, Mk 2:13-17, shows us that division appears even when a good thing has been done.  Levi just gave his his post as tax collector, took on a new name, Matthew, and became a new man.  Wanting to celebrate this change, he threw a party, inviting Jesus and his disciples, other tax collector friends as well as scribes and Pharisees.  Criticism soon made its way to the head table:  why was this man eating with tax collectors and sinners?  Matthew was extending hospitality to ALL, yet suffered for it.
The theme of this year's Church Unity Octave is hospitality, based on the hospitality shown on the island of Malta to the shipwrecked Paul, companions and crew.  "They showed us an unusual kindness...." (Acts 27: 18-28: 10)
Shouldn't this attitude of welcome be the earmark of the people of God who profess on faith, one baptism, one Lord? (cf. Eph 4:5-6).
Bro. Rene

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Power To Forgive Sins

Early in his ministry, Jesus was acclaimed for his miracle working, but eventually, the "honey moon period" was over and opposition began to arise.  When Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic who was lowered through the roof, the Pharisees challenged him for doing something only God could do, but being God, he healed the man, showing that he could both forgive sins and heal bodies. (cf. Mk 2:1-12) What a consolation to us, to know that the power to forgive sins continues through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and is available to us in our Churches at regular times, or by personal appointment. Even, daily, we might ask God to forgive us, for we are indeed sinners in need of God's mercy and forgiveness...
Bro. Rene

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Be Made Clean

What a relief must the leper who came kneeling before Jesus begging for a cure have felt when he heard the word, "I will do it.  Be made clean." (Mk 1: 41). Most of us will never hear those words addressed to us because of our leprosy, but "uncleanness" can take many forms:  a sinful habit, a negative attitude toward life in general or some person or institution in particular,  unjust criticism of authority, cronyism, cynicism, pessimism...and on and on..   The sacrament of Reconciliation provides the opportunity to hear words, as consoling as those the leper heard:  "I absolve you of your sins", spoken with the authority  of Jesus:  "whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven".  Relieving, encouraging, helpful in moving ahead clean and motivated to start a new phase in life. May we approach Jesus with the same urgency and confidence of the leper,  be set free and as he did, despite the strong caution of Jesus not to, spread the word, the there is healing for our "unclean" behaviors.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Responding to God's Calls

Today's readings, 1 Sam 3:1-10, 19-20 and Mk 1: 29-39,suggest two possible ways of responding to God's call. Everybody loves the charming story of the boy Samuel's initial confusion upon hearing his name called three different times while he slept. Thinking it was Eli's call, he presented himself to him, but finally, when Eli realized what was happening, he instructed Samuel on what to answer:  "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." (I Sam 3: 9).  Samuel began listening to God who's call eventually led to his becoming an effective, accredited prophet.  The Psalmist expanded on Samuel's response, adding a willingness to SERVE.  "Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will." (Ps 40: 8a, 9a)
Sometimes the call comes through the situation in which we find ourselves.  Jesus entered the house of Peter to find his mother-in-law suffering from a fever. Her illness was a call to him for a healing, which he did,  and  upon rising from her bed, she began to serve him and his friends.  No "call or invitation was necessary.  She simply responded to the needs of those present, as did Jesus, when the crowds of infirm arrived outside the house.  He saw their needs and responded with healings and expulsions of demons.
What is God calling me to today?  How is he calling?  How am I responding?
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Power of Prayer

Today's readings underscore the amazing power of prayer.  The parents of Samuel, Elkanah and Hannah, prayed, made pilgrimages, and offered sacrifices so that they might have a child.  Eventually, God  responded to those efforts and Hannah gave birth to a boy who became the leader and prophet, Samuel.  Early in his ministry, according to St. Mark, Jesus cast out an unclean spirit even without the possessed  man's prayer.  Jesus saw his distress and acted immediately. 
We might grow discourage or impatient because our prayers are not answered right away, but we can be sure that the God who created the universe, is aware of our situation, and will act in our best interest in his own time. Sometimes the answer we seek  just "pops up" without even the offering of a prayer.   Mark noted that Jesus taught with authority.  Evidently, he acted with authority as well.  Our faith needs to be stronger and we need to be more trusting and patient, for God sees and knows our needs better than we do.
Bro.  Rene