Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Core of the Gospel

Evangelist Mark is noteworthy for his succinct style, no wasted words...Indeed, his is the shortest of the four Gospels. This morning's passage, Mark 1:14-20, gets immediately to the heart of the matter as Jesus inaugurates his public ministry after the arrest and imprisonment of John the Baptist. "This isi the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the gospel.:" (Mk 1: 14).  Now is the time for the culmination of prophecies and centuries of preparation for the arrival of the Messiah. The message:  repent, believe, follow.  After Jesus had spoken these words, he invited four men to leave their work and families and walk with him.  James, John, Peter and Andrew did just that, not knowing to what they were committing themselves, but compelled by the presence and person of Jesus, they took a huge turn from their accustomed lives and moved ahead into the unknown. Amazing to contemplate how these four upon hearing the message to repent and believe, left all in the drop of a fishnet!  At this point, did they even know what the gospel, "good news" was?
Yet, Jesus inspired them with the strength of his sureness about himself and his mission enough for them to make this change and eventually to be transformed into evangelizers, miracle workers, martyrs and saints. Where am I when I hear the call to repent, believe and follow?
Bro. Rene  

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Crazy?

"Crazy" has become the new teen "in-word" as "awesome" has been for several years. It's old meaning of "insane" has mutated to "something beyond imagination" or "inexplicable."   In any case, it's rather jarring to have it applied to Jesus as we read this morning's Gospel (Mk 3:20-21). Although translated a bit more softly as in "out of his mind"  the implication of insanity remains.  From observing the pattern of Jesus's behavior....curing folks daily, followed so intensely by crowds that he didn't even have time to eat (Mk 3:20), it's no wonder it appeared as insanity;  People of passion whose energy level rises above normal when engaged in "their thing" do appear to have "lost it" and earned the label, "crazy'.
 Jesus was not "mad", however,  but so filled with love and compassion that he drove himself beyond measure to cure the sick and put their well-being before his. We do see a balance, however as he rose early to pray and frequently enough called the disciples aside to rest awhile.  When we look at current headlines or hear of the great need in our local communities, we might begin to pray for more "crazy" people, including ourselves, to step up to help.
Bro. Rene

Friday, January 19, 2018

March For Life

For 44 years people who recognize the dignity and gift of LIFE from conception to natural death have been gathering in Washington on or as close to January 22 (Roe vs Wade)  as possible to raise consciousness about the priceless value of human life.  Today, students and adults from all over North America and even Europe are marching to the Supreme Court in peaceful prayer and song as the culmination of long travels, vigils and rallies for life.  Those of us who cannot make the physical trip might join the marchers in prayer today.  Here is a prayer composed by Father William Dailey that we might use in addition to our own:
Lord Jesus, Son of God, Son of Mary, you came that we may have life, and have it more abundantly. You are the Word through whom we were made. Teach us to live the Gospel of Life. Soften our hearts that we may be compassionate toward the most vulnerable. Embolden us to be voices for the voiceless. Help us always to remember that what we do for the least ones, we do for you—never to forget the incomparable value of every human person. In your Holy Name, we pray. Amen. (Faith ND)   
Bro. Rene
Some noteworthy facts related to the purpose of this day:
 Abortions are down – 2018 projections are below the usual 1 million+ for the first time since the 70s.
 
     Killing mills are closing across the country.
 
     The 2,159 in operation in 1991 have been reduced to around 500.
 
     908,000 abortions is still 908,000 too many; 500 killing mills still need to be shut down
 
     The war is far from over; but battles are being won —

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Crushing Crowd

Mark tells us in today's Gospel that not only did a large number of people follow Jesus from Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, Tyre and Sidon, but that Jesus asked for a boat to keep these crowds from crushing him. (cf. Mk 3:7-12).  Sounds like the frenzy stirred up by today's Rock Stars.  Yes, they were looking for healing, a "quick fix", but nevertheless, they came and Jesus accommodated them.  Where are such crowds at our weekend Masses and Worship Services?  What has happened?
No one seems to be able to pinpoint the reason for the "Rock Star's" decline in popularity.St. John Paul II, showman that he was, drew large crowds; Pope Francis similarly, and spiritual healings, conversions and vocations have resulted, but not on a large scale. 'Blockbuster" movies take in millions for a few weekends, but after three weeks or so, sink from the headlines as the crowds rush to the next attraction.  Perhaps whimsy, a penchant for the latest fad or gadget are bred into our bones, and only a firmer faith will allow us to build on a rock bottom foundation. Something to ponder as we visualize those Jesus-crushing crowds of yore.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

God's Ever Perplexing Plan

The Memorial of St. Antony the Abbot (AKA St. Anthony of the Desert), and the reading from the first Book of Samuel, in which David defeats the giant Goliath with a sling and five smooth stones (1 Sam 17: 32-51) come together on this day to remind us that God's plan for each of us is usually far different from the ones we make.  God chooses the most unsuspecting people to do his work, as a reminder, it seems, that HE is really the power behind all of us and gives us the power and support to do things of which we never dreamed we could accomplish.
 Antony inherited a fortune and a large farm...was set for life...but heard the Gospel to give all to the poor and follow Jesus...Not in his game plan until he heard God Calling; Antony laid the foundation of Christian monasticism.
David, the youngest of Jesse's sons, a shepherd far out in the fields away from his father and brothers, is yanked from his halcyon existence to find himself anointed at the hands of Samuel as the king of Israel.  His first job, far beyond that of herding sheep, is to face and "dispatch" the giant Philistine and rout his army. From his offspring came Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of the world. 
Can't resist adding that St. Marcellin, not unlike David, was a shepherd, a farmhand, and unschooled, yet called to a work far beyond his imagination and perceived capabilities, to found a religious congregation of teaching brothers. 3,500 brothers strong,wbo conduct schools in 80 countries.
 Our mouths drop in wonder that these unlike-lies should have such an impact on the world. Yet, this is God's way, his ever perplexing plan.  What fears of excuses can withstand the compelling  plan of God?  What is God calling me to do today?
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Keeping the Sabbath

As the disciples of Jesus walked through a grain field on the Sabbath and plucked heads of grain on which to munch, they invoked the criticism of the Pharisees who watched this with disdain. (cf. Mk 2:23-24). Jesus reminded them that when necessity demanded, the law of charity or of common sense prevailed.  Hunger is certainly an imperative that would justify the "bending of the rules."  As Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made of man, not man for the Sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath." (Mk 2: 28)
Why the Sabbath rules?  To remind us of our connection with God, with our Creator; they allow us to separate from ordinary routine to give some conscious reflection on who God is, who we are and what we are doing to heed and follow him.  If we did not stop once a week, we would soon be acting totally independently...not good.,  Better to give some time to the Lord of the Sabbath.
Bro. Rene

Monday, January 15, 2018

Living In The Present

So often we find ourselves preoccupied with "What comes next?", "How will this happen?" "Where/when will the money I need come?" "Am I on the right path?"  "What more should I be doing?"  We could drive ourselves crazy. 
In Act 5, scene 2, Hamlet says,  "the readiness is all." We beg permission of the Bard of Avon for a paraphrase below which might bring us peace of mind.
When confronted by the Pharisees about why he and his disciples did not fast, Jesus compared his presence among them as the bridegroom at whose wedding the guests would not think of fasting...not at a wedding!  The timing is all.  There is a time for fasting, but certainly not at a wedding!  Christianity teaches us to find joy, to be joyful in the present moment and to let God handle the future.  A young Notre Dame graduate, John McMackin '16, said it well (Faith ND for January 15, 2018):
We have been given the great gift of time to draw closer to our Creator and Redeemer by giving ourselves more and more to God. The present is a gift, gratuitously given—one that calls for thanksgiving and sanctification to God. Just as new wine is meant to be stored in skins designed for that wine, each moment is meant to be lived out in its own manner, free from the impending concerns and worries on the horizon. When trials come, we must face them, but when joy appears, we must embrace it all the more.
May we enjoy this day and all days with this wholesome, Christian outlook.
Bro. Rene