Thursday, January 20, 2022

Successful Healer

 Mark 3: 7-12

A Great Crowd Follows Jesus

7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

We can just imagine the crowds pressing  down on Jesus to have him touch and heal them. A great number needed help and Jesus did no hold back. 

Today there is a greater need for healing, for a restoration of faith, practice of that faith, love of neighbor, peace and harmony among all peoples, to name a few.  Jesus is not here physically to address these needs, but he has us in his place. A huge responsibility, a huge challenge. Can I meet it?  Where do I begin?  Do I think it's all up to me, or do I believe that Jesus is with me to help? Dear Jesus help me to bring healing to family, friends, and even strangers, remembering that nothing is impossible with you.

Bro. Rene

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Law of Love

 Mark 3: 1-6

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

Another confrontation with the Pharisees over the sacredness of the Law in which Jesus shows us that the Law of Love supersedes the "letter of the law".  Doing good to or for a neighbor exemplifies the love for one another that Jesus came to show us by laying his life down for us more than keeping the letter of the law simply for keeping it in a dull, lifeless way. Yes, we need rules and regulations for the sake of order and unity, but none of these "mini-laws" can compare with the all-encompassing Law of Love.  The Pharisees could not or would not answer Jesus' question, the answer to which is obvious.  May we not allow rigidity keep us from bringing forth life through love.

Bro. Rene

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Who Is the Lord of My Sabbath?

  

 Mark 2: 23-28

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

23 Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”

25 But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: 26 how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?”

27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

The wisdom and practicality of Jesus glow as he faces the challenge proposed by the Pharisees.  Of course, his followers had to eat, a greater need and good than observing the law.  We talk about "bending the law," and if survival is our goal, then bend, bend, bend! Can we be as flexible?  Or are we too "flexible" at times, taking on no account of why a  law is there?  How do I use my Sunday? Do I go to Mass or to Worship? Many of necessity have to work on this day; does that exempt them from the need to take some time, nevertheless, and set it aside for prayer, reflection and rest of both body and soul?  As much as the body needs food, so does the soul need its nourishment, otherwise it dries up, withers and dies. Don't we build relationships and friendships by spending time with one another?  Why is not God part of this equation?

Bro. Rene 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Fasting

 

 

 Mark 2: 18-22

A Question About Fasting

18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

There's a time to fast and a time not to fast.  While Jesus was alive and traveling with his disciples, it was not the time; that would come later, and indeed it did, with more than fasting, but also with martyrdom. In view of this, we might more easily lean toward the daily "martyrdom" of fasting  rather than the latter.  Fasting is a means to an end, not the end in itself and is a tradition in many cultures, not only among Christians. It fosters discipline, it helps us to lean on God more than on a choice steak and opens the door to union with those who go hungry daily. It also does not have to be just restricting food but could be eliminating TV for a day, or turning off the radio in the car while driving, and using the time to talk to God... to pray! Why not begin some type of fasting to day, while the topic is fresh in our minds?  The sooner the better, before we forget about it.

Bro. Rene

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Do Whatever He Tells You

John 1: 1-11

The Wedding at Cana

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. 

We read again the familiar and beloved story of the Wedding Feast at Cana when Mary "forced" her Son into performing his first miracle. The power of a woman, the power of a mother, the obedience and compassion of a son,  all of which we take so much for granted today, on display for the first time at that wedding in the small village of Cana. Having been locked into the Church at Cana in 1976 during the mandatory siesta, I had the privilege of being at the feast (in prayer) for three hours, three very fast hours.  I loved it, for I could hear the joyful banter of the guests, feel the embarrassment of the newlyweds, see the Mother speak to her Son, watch the servants fill the large stone water jugs and experience the delight of the guests when the new wine was served.  What a gift it was to be at this wedding feast!  The lesson:  Jesus is there to take care of what might be seen as the most mundane of details. If we are too embarrassed to ask him, then ask his mother, and a sure-fire answer will be given. See you at the wedding!

Bro. Rene

 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Call

 Mark 2: 13-17

Jesus Calls Levi

13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Why did Levi leave his lucrative tax table so readily?  Was there already discontent simmering within him?  Was the call of Jesus so magnetic, so compelling, that he could just jump up to follow him? What if he had said "no" and remained a tax collector?  Would he ever have made such as impact on this world, in my spiritual growth and that of millions if he had remained Levi the Tax Collector? It was a huge move, but the results are so huge, they are impossible to measure. 

Is God calling today?  Are there Matthews out there still responding to the call?  Are there others ignoring it? Do I hear the call?  How am I responding?.  Dear God, help me to respond with a resounding YES, as Matthew did, and trust that your plan for me is better than any I could devise myself.

Bro. Rene

Friday, January 14, 2022

Two-fold Healing

 Mark 2: 1-12

Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralytic

And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. [a]Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.

When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has [b]power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

We've heard this story so often that we might be dull to its double cure.  First and foremost,  Jesus addresses first the forgiving of the man's sins and THEN the healing of his paralysis. Evidently Jesus saw the inner paralysis as first and most important; once that was cleared, he could proceed with the "outer healing" which also gave credibility to the inner, This powerful story happened early in the ministry of Jesus and underscores the purpose of his presence among us:  the forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation with the Father for the First, or Original Sin.  As we age, we become more aware of our inner paralysis and learn that its healing is more important than relief from the aches and pains of our crumbling joints. May we be inspired to allow Jesus to heal us where we need it the most.

Bro. Rene