The Gift of Spiritual Insight
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” John 1:29-30
This insight that St. John the Baptist had regarding Jesus is quite inspiring, mysterious and amazing. He sees Jesus coming toward him and he immediately states three revealed truths about Jesus: 1) Jesus is the Lamb of God; 2) Jesus ranks ahead of John; 3) Jesus existed before John.
How would John know all of this? What was the source of such profound statements about Jesus? Most likely John would have studied the Scriptures of the time and would have known the many statements about the coming Messiah spoken by the prophets of old. He would have known the Psalms and the Books of Wisdom. But, first and foremost, John would have known what he knew by the gift of faith. He would have had true spiritual insight granted by God.
This fact reveals not only the greatness of John and the depth of his faith, it also reveals the ideal we must strive for in life. We must strive to daily walk by authentic spiritual insight granted by God.
It’s not so much that we must live, day by day, in some sort of an evident, prophetic and mystical state. It’s not that we should expect to have superior knowledge over others. But we should be open to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit so as to gain a knowledge and understanding of life that is beyond what mere human reason can acquire by its own effort.
John was clearly filled with Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Reverence and Wonder. These Gifts of the Spirit gave him an ability to live a life sustained by the grace of God. John knew things and understood things that only God could reveal. He loved and revered Jesus with a passion and submission of his will that could only be inspired by God. Most evidently, John’s holiness came as a consequence of his union with God.
Reflect, today, upon this exceptionally insightful statement from John regarding Jesus. John knew what he knew only because God was alive in his life leading him and revealing these truths. Commit yourself, this day, to an imitation of John’s deep faith and be open to all that God wants to speak to you.
My precious Lord Jesus, give me insight and wisdom so that I may know You and believe in You. Help me, each and every day, to discover more fully the great and awe-inspiring mystery of Who You are. I love You, my Lord, and I pray that I may come to know and love You all the more. Jesus, I trust in You.
Newness of Life
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas”—which is translated Peter. John 1:42
In this passage, the Apostle Andrew brings his brother Simon to Jesus after telling Simon that he has found the Messiah. Jesus immediately receives them both as Apostles and then reveals to Simon that his identity will now be changed. He will now be called Cephas. “Cephas” is an Aramaic word that means “Rock.” In English, this name is usually translated as “Peter.”
When someone is given a new name, this often means that they are also given a new mission and new vocation in life. For example, in the Christian tradition, we receive new names at Baptism or Confirmation. Additionally, when a man or woman becomes a monk or a nun, they often are given a new name to signify the new life they are called to live.
Simon is given the new name of “Rock” because Jesus intends to make him the foundation of His future Church. This change in name reveals that Simon must become a new creation in Christ in order to fulfill his high calling.
So it is with each one of us. No, we may not be called to be the next pope or a bishop, but we are each called to become new creations in Christ and live new lives fulfilling new missions. And, in a sense, this newness of life must happen each and every day. We must daily strive to fulfill the mission that Jesus gives us in a new way every day.
Reflect, today, upon the fact that God invites you to live a new life of grace in Him. He has some new mission for you to daily fulfill and He promises to give you all you need to live it. Say “Yes” to the call He gives you and you will see incredible things happen in your life.
My Lord of all newness, I do say “Yes” to You and to the calling that You have given to me. I accept the new life of grace that You have prepared for me and I willingly accept Your gracious invitation. Help me, dear Lord, to daily answer the glorious vocation to the life of grace I have been given. Jesus, I trust in You.
Words of Wisdom From our Blessed Mother
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” John 2:5
This short and direct statement from our Blessed Mother says all we need to know. “Do whatever He tells you.” What else do we need to know in life?
The hard part, of course, is following that advice. It’s easy to believe it, to preach it and to commit ourselves to doing everything that our Lord says, but it’s another thing to actually follow through and fulfill His divine will.
That short exhortation calls us to two things: 1) To discern what Jesus wants of us and, 2) To freely embrace that which we discern. How are you doing in these two areas?
First of all, discerning the will of God can be hard in the sense that it requires a wholehearted attentiveness to His gentle and subtle voice. God does not impose His will on us; rather, He respectfully and quietly invites us to listen. He waits until we give Him our full attention and then reveals His will one step at a time. Yes, some things have been made clear already through public revelation such as the avoidance of sin and the embrace of faith, hope and love. But when we are ready to let those general commands enter practically into our daily lives, we must be ready to give God our full attention.
Second, we should realize that God’s will, when properly discerned, is not always easy to embrace. He requires everything of us. He is a “jealous God” in the sense that He wants our total surrender. The good news is that if we are willing to give Him everything in total obedience, we will discover that our lives are completely fulfilled.
Reflect, today, upon this twofold invitation spoken by our Blessed Mother. Reflect upon how ready you are to listen to God’s will and how ready you are to do His will, no matter what it is. If you are ready for this, you are on the path toward holiness.
Dear Blessed Mother, thank you for your perfect words of wisdom. Help me to accept your advice in my life. Help me to know what your Son wills of me and then help me to embrace His holy and perfect will. Lord, I give You my life and choose to surrender all to You. Jesus, I trust in You.
Making All Things New
Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Mark 2:21
We’ve all heard this analogy from Jesus before. It’s one of those statements that we can easily hear and then dismiss without comprehending. Do you understand what it means?
This analogy is followed by the analogy of pouring new wine into old wineskins. Jesus states that no one does this because it will burst the old wineskins. Therefore, new wine is poured into new wineskins.
Both of these analogies speak to the same spiritual truth. They reveal that if we wish to receive His new and transforming Gospel message, we must first become new creations. Our old lives of sin cannot contain the new gift of grace. Therefore, in order to fully receive the message of Jesus, we must first become created anew.
Recall the Scripture: “To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Mark 4:25). This teaches a similar message. When we are filled with the newness of grace, we are graced all the more.
What is that “new wine” and “new patch” that Jesus desires to give you? If you are willing to let your life be made new, you will discover that more will be poured upon you as you receive more. Abundance will be given when abundance has already been received. It’s as if someone won the lotto and decided to give it all away to the wealthiest person he can find. This is how grace works. But the good news is that God desires that all of us become spiritually rich in abundance.
Reflect, today, upon this teaching of Jesus. Know that He wants to pour an abundance of grace into your life if you are willing to let yourself be first created anew.
My Lord of all generosity, I desire to be made anew. I desire to live a new life in grace so that even more grace can be lavished upon me through Your sacred words. Help me, dear Lord, to embrace the life of abundance that You have in store for me. Jesus, I trust in You.
The Lord’s Day is For You!
Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” Mark 2:27
This statement spoken by Jesus was said in response to some of the Pharisees who were criticizing Jesus’ disciples for picking heads of grain on the Sabbath as they walked by the fields. They were hungry and did what was natural to them. However, the Pharisees used it as an opportunity to be irrational and critical. They made the claim that by picking the heads of grain, the disciples were breaking the Sabbath law.
First of all, from the point of basic common sense, this is silly. Would our loving and all-merciful God really be offended because the disciples picked heads of grain to eat as they walked by the field? Perhaps a scrupulous mind may think so, but every bit of natural common sense should tell us God is not offended by such an action.
Jesus’ final statement about this sets the record straight. “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” In other words, the whole point of the Sabbath Day was not to impose a scrupulous burden upon us; rather, it was to free us to rest and worship. The Sabbath is a gift from God to us.
This takes on practical implications when we look at the way we celebrate the Sabbath today. Sunday is the new Sabbath and it’s a day of rest and worship. Sometimes we can look at these requirements as burdens. They are not given to us as an invitation to follow the commands in a scrupulous and legalistic way. They are given to us as an invitation to the life of grace.
Does this mean that we do not need to always attend Mass and rest on Sundays? Certainly not. These precepts of the Church are clearly the will of God. The real question has to do with the way we look at these commands. Rather than falling into the trap of seeing them as legalistic requirements, we must strive to live these commands as invitations to grace, given to us for our own well-being. The commands are for us. They are required because we need the Sabbath. We need Sunday Mass and we need a day to rest each week.
Reflect, today, upon the way you celebrate the Lord’s Day. Do you see the call to worship and rest as an invitation from God to be renewed and refreshed by His grace? Or do you see it only as a duty that has to be fulfilled. Try to take on the right attitude, this day, and the Lord’s Day will take on a whole new meaning for you.
My inviting Lord, I thank You for establishing the New Sabbath as a day to rest and worship You. Help me to live every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation in the way You desire. Help me to see these days as a gift from You to worship and to be renewed. Jesus, I trust in You.
Freedom From the Confusion of Sin
Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. Mark 3:2
It didn’t take long for the Pharisees to allow envy to cloud their thinking about Jesus. The Pharisees wanted all the attention. They wanted to be looked up to and honored as the authentic teachers of the law. So when Jesus showed up, and many were astounded by the authority with which He taught, the Pharisees immediately began to criticize Him.
The sad reality we witness in their actions is that they appear to be blind to their own malice. The envy that fills them keeps them from realizing that they are actually acting with extreme irrationality. This is an important and very difficult lesson to learn.
Sin confuses us, especially spiritual sin such as pride, envy and anger. Therefore, when someone becomes consumed with one of these sins, that person most likely does not even realize how irrational he becomes. Take the example of the Pharisees.
Jesus is put in a situation where He chooses to heal someone on the Sabbath. This is an act of mercy. It is done out of love for this man to relieve him of his suffering. Though this is an incredible miracle, the disturbed minds of the Pharisees look only for a way to twist this act of mercy into something sinful. What an appalling scene.
Though this may not at first be that inspiring of a thought upon which to reflect, it’s necessary to reflect on it. Why? Because we all struggle, to one extent or another, with sins like this. We all struggle with letting envy and anger sneak in and distort the way we relate to others. Then, too often we justify our actions just as the Pharisees did.
Reflect, today, upon this most unfortunate scene. But reflect upon it with the hope that the poor example of the Pharisees will help you to identify any of the same tendencies in your own heart. Seeing these tendencies they struggle with should help free you from falling into the irrational thinking that comes as a result of sin.
My most merciful Lord Jesus, please do forgive me for all my sins. I am sorry and I pray that I will be able to see all that clouds my thinking and acting. Free me and help me to love You and others with the pure love I am called to have. Jesus, I trust in You.
Trusting in the Authority of the Church
Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known. Mark 3:12
In this passage, Jesus rebukes the unclean spirits and commands that they refrain from making Him known to others. Why does He do this?
In this passage, Jesus commands the unclean spirits to remain silent because their testimony to the truth of who Jesus is cannot be trusted. They cannot be trusted. The key thing to understand here is that the demons often deceive others by speaking some truth in a slightly erroneous way. They mix the truth with error. Therefore, they are not worthy of speaking any truth about Jesus.
This should give us insight into the proclamation of the Gospel in general. There are many whom we hear preach the Gospel, but not everything we hear or read is fully trustworthy. There are countless opinions, advice givers, and preachers in our world today. Sometimes the preacher will say something quite true but then will knowingly or unknowingly mix that truth with small errors. This does great damage and leads many astray.
So the first thing we should take from this passage is that we must always listen carefully to what is preached and try to discern whether or not what is said is fully in union with what Jesus has revealed. This is the main reason we should always rely upon the preaching of Jesus as it is revealed through our Church. Jesus guarantees that His truth is spoken through His Church. Therefore, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the lives of the saints, and the wisdom of the teaching authority of the Magisterium must always be used as a basis for all we listen to and preach to ourselves.
Reflect, today, upon how completely you trust our Church. Sure, our Church is filled with sinners; we are all sinners. But our Church is also filled with the fullness of the truth and you must enter into a deep trust of all that Jesus has and continues to reveal to you through His Church. Offer a prayer of gratitude this day for the teaching authority of the Church and recommit yourself to a full acceptance of that authority.
My Lord of all Truth, I thank You for the gift of Your Church. Today, I especially thank You for the gift of the clear and authoritative teaching that comes to me through the Church. May I always trust in this authority and offer a full submission of my mind and will to all that You have revealed, especially through our Holy Father and the saints. Jesus, I trust in You.
Being Called Up the Mountain with Jesus
Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. Mark 3:13
This Scripture passage reveals Jesus summoning His Apostles up the mountain so as to give them the commission to preach and to cast out demons in His name. One significant aspect of this Scripture passage is that Jesus summoned the Apostles “up the mountain.”
Everything Jesus did in life was filled with significance. This particular action displays great symbolic value. The commission of the Apostles to preach and to cast out demons only took place after they went up the mountain at Jesus’ invitation. Why did He do this only after calling His Apostles up a mountain?
A mountain is a symbol of our journey toward God. It’s an indication that we are to go up toward Him. And it reveals that we are only equipped to go forth and fulfill God’s will after we have first gone up to meet Him.
The “mountain” we are called to go up is first and foremost prayer. We are to daily go up to meet our Lord, seeking Him through a life of deep surrender. Jesus calls us to Himself where He waits for us so as to be alone with Him basking in His glorious presence.
Unless we go up that mountain with our Lord, we will be ill-equipped to fulfill His divine commission. We will be insufficiently prepared to bring His love and mercy to a world in need.
Reflect, today, upon the invitation Jesus offers you to follow Him up the mountain of prayer. Respond to that invitation so that you can then be sent forth by Him to fulfill His divine command of love.
My inviting Lord, I do accept Your gentle invitation to go up the mountain of faith and prayer. I desire to seek You out and to be with You. As I meet You in prayer, give me the grace I need to then go forth and fulfill Your divine will. Jesus, I trust in You.
Is Jesus “Out of His Mind?”
Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:20-21
What an interesting passage this is. We start with the obvious premise that Jesus is perfect in every way. He is the very Wisdom of God and is God. Everything He said and did reveals the perfect love of the Most Holy Trinity.
But what was the response to Him? Some people, of course, listened to Him attentively with faith and glorious astonishment at His words and actions. They could see His divinity shine through and knew He was the Son of God, the Savior of the World.
But this passage reveals that others, even some who were His own relatives, thought He was “Out of His mind!” Very interesting and very revealing for our own faith journey.
If this was said of Jesus in His perfection, so it also will be said of us if we follow in His ways. Following Jesus and fulfilling His divine will in our lives will not always be accepted by others. Yes, acts of kindness and mercy toward the less fortunate, for example, will generally be seen by all as a good and virtuous thing to do. But there are many things we are called to say and do by the Gospel that will invite the criticism of others. When this happens, we should not be astonished, hurt or scandalized. We should not become angry or resentful. Rather, we should see ourselves as following in the very footsteps of Christ. We should recall His own false judgments and not allow what we experience from others to deter us from following the will of God.
Reflect, today, upon any way that you may experience the same thing that Jesus did. Reflect upon ways that your fidelity to our Lord and His mission may leave others with a critical word or thought toward you. Do not be shocked or scandalized when this happens. Instead, know that it is nothing other than an imitation of the life of Christ Jesus Himself.
My Lord of all wisdom, I know that You were misunderstood and even criticized by others. You were misrepresented and judged even by those close to You. Help me to always accept unjust persecution and judgment in life as I seek to follow Your holy and divine will. Help me to seek You and Your will in all things despite any erroneous opinions of others. Jesus, I trust in You.
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