A Time to Repent and Believe
Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Mark 1:14–15
We have now completed our Advent and Christmas Seasons and begin the liturgical season of “Ordinary Time.” Ordinary Time must be lived in our lives in both an ordinary and extraordinary way.
First of all, we begin this liturgical season with an extraordinary calling from God. In the Gospel passage above, Jesus begins His public ministry by proclaiming that “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” But He then goes on to state that, as a result of the new presence of the Kingdom of God, we must “repent” and “believe.”
It’s important to understand that the Incarnation, which we especially celebrated in Advent and Christmas, changed the world forever. Now that God had united Himself with human nature in the Person of Jesus Christ, God’s new Kingdom of grace and mercy was at hand. Our world and our lives are changed because of what God did. And as Jesus began His public ministry, He begins to inform us through His preaching of this new reality.
The public ministry of Jesus, as it is transmitted to us through the inspired Word of the Gospels, presents to us the very Person of God and the foundation of His new Kingdom of grace and mercy. It presents us with the extraordinary calling of holiness of life and an unwavering and radical commitment to following Christ. Thus, as we begin Ordinary Time, it’s good to be reminded of our duty to immerse ourselves in the message of the Gospel and to respond to it without reserve.
But this calling to an extraordinary way of life must ultimately become ordinary. In other words, our radical calling to follow Christ must become who we are. We must see the “extraordinary” as our “ordinary” duty in life.
Reflect, today, upon the beginning of this new liturgical season. Use it as an opportunity to remind yourself of the importance of daily studying and prayerfully pondering the public ministry of Jesus and all He taught. Recommit yourself to a faithful reading of the Gospel so that it becomes an ordinary part of your daily life.
My precious Jesus, I thank You for all You have spoken and revealed to us through Your public ministry. Strengthen me during this new liturgical season of Ordinary Time to devote myself to the reading of Your holy Word so that all that You have taught us becomes an ordinary part of my daily life. Jesus, I trust in You.
Confronting the Evil One
Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” Mark 1:23–25
There were numerous times when Jesus directly confronted demons in the Scriptures. Each time He rebuked them and exercised His authority over them. The passage above illustrates one such case.
The fact that the devil shows himself over and over in the Gospels tells us that the evil one is real and needs to be dealt with appropriately. And the appropriate way to deal with the evil one and his fellow demons is to rebuke them with the authority of Christ Jesus Himself in a calm but definitive and authoritative way.
It’s very rare that the evil one makes himself fully manifest to us in the way that he did in the passage above to Jesus. The demon speaks directly through this man, which indicates that the man was fully possessed. And though we do not see this form of manifestation often, it doesn’t mean that the evil one is any less active today. Instead, it shows that the authority of Christ is not being exercised by the Christian faithful to the extent that is necessary to combat the evil one. Instead, we often cower in the face of evil and fail to confidently and charitably stand our ground with Christ.
Why did this demon manifest himself in such a visible way? Because this demon was directly confronted with the authority of Jesus. The devil usually prefers to remain hidden and deceptive, presenting himself as an angel of light so that his evil ways are not known clearly. Those whom he controls often do not even know how much they are influenced by the evil one. But when the evil one is confronted with the pure presence of Christ, with the Truth of the Gospel that sets us free, and with Jesus’ authority, this confrontation often forces the evil one to react by manifesting his evil.
Reflect, today, upon the fact that the evil one is constantly at work all around us. Consider the people and circumstances in your life where the pure and holy Truth of God is attacked and rejected. It is in those situations, more than any other, that Jesus wants to bestow upon you His divine authority to confront evil, rebuke it and take authority over it. This is primarily done through prayer and deep trust in the power of God. Don’t be afraid to allow God to use you to confront the activity of the evil one in this world.
Lord, give me courage and wisdom when I face the activity of the evil one in this world. Give me wisdom to discern his hand at work and give me courage to confront and rebuke him with Your love and authority. May Your authority be alive in my life, Lord Jesus, and may I daily become a better instrument of the coming of Your Kingdom as I confront the evil present in this world. Jesus, I trust in You.
More Demons Driven Out
Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Mark 1:32–34
Today we read that Jesus once again “drove out many demons…” The passage then adds, “…not permitting them to speak because they knew him.”
Why would Jesus not permit these demons to speak? Many of the early Church fathers explain that even though the demons had an understanding that Jesus was the promised Messiah, they did not understand fully what that meant and how He would accomplish His ultimate victory. Therefore, Jesus did not want them to speak only half-truths about Him, as the evil one often does, thus misleading the people. So Jesus always forbade these demons from speaking about Him publicly.
It’s important to understand that all of the demonic spirits failed to understand the full truth that it would be Jesus’ death that ultimately destroys death itself and sets all people free. For that reason, we see that these diabolical forces continually conspired against Jesus and tried to attack Him throughout His life. They stirred up Herod when Jesus was a baby, which forced Him into exile in Egypt. Satan himself tempted Jesus just prior to the beginning of His public ministry so as to try to dissuade Jesus from His mission. There were many diabolical forces who continually attacked Jesus throughout His public ministry, especially through the ongoing hostility of the religious leaders at the time. And it can be presumed that these demons may have initially thought they won the battle when they accomplished their goal of having Jesus crucified.
The truth, however, is that Jesus’ wisdom continually confounded these demons and ultimately transformed their evil act of having Him crucified into an ultimate victory over sin and death itself by rising from the dead. Satan and his demons are real, but compared to the truth and wisdom of God, these diabolical forces reveal their complete foolishness and weakness. Just like Jesus, we need to rebuke these tempters in our lives and command that they be silent. Too often we allow their half truths to mislead us and confuse us.
Reflect, today, upon the importance of confidently rebuking the evil one and the many lies he tempts us to believe. Rebuke him with the truth and authority of Christ and pay no attention to what he says.
My precious and all-powerful Lord, I turn to You and You alone as the source of all Truth and the fullness of Truth. May I listen to Your voice alone and reject the many deceptions of the evil one and his demons. In Your precious name, Jesus, I rebuke satan and all evil spirits, their lies and their temptations. I send these spirits to the foot of Your Cross, dear Lord, and open my mind and heart only to You. Jesus, I trust in You.
Be Made Clean
Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Mark 1:40–41
If we come to our divine Lord with faith, kneel down before Him and present our need to Him, then we also will receive the same response given to this leper: “I do will it. Be made clean.” These words should give us hope in the midst of any and every challenge in life.
What is it that our Lord wills for you? And what is it that He desires to make clean in your life? This story of the leper coming to Jesus does not mean that our Lord will grant any and every request we bring to Him. Instead, it reveals that He wills to make us clean of that which afflicts us the most. Leprosy in this story should be seen as a symbol of the spiritual ills that afflict your soul. First and foremost, it should be seen as a symbol of the sin in your life that has become habitual and slowly does great damage to your soul.
At that time, leprosy not only caused grave physical damage to a person, but it also had the effect of isolating them from the community. They had to live apart from others who did not have the disease; and if they came near others, they had to show they were lepers by certain external signs so that people would not come in contact with them. Thus, leprosy had both personal and communal ramifications.
The same is true with many habitual sins. Sin does damage to our souls, but it also affects our relationships. For example, a person who is habitually harsh, judgmental, sarcastic or the like will experience the ill effects of these sins on their relationships.
Returning to the statement of Jesus above, consider that sin which not only affects your soul the most but also your relationships. To that sin, Jesus wishes to say to you, “Be made clean.” He wants to strengthen your relationship by cleansing the sin within your soul. And all it takes for Him to do that is for you to turn to Him on your knees and to present your sin to Him. This is especially true within the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Reflect, today, upon your closest relationships in life. And then consider which of your sins most directly hurts those relationships. Whatever comes to mind, you can be certain that Jesus wants to rid you of that spiritual leprosy within your soul.
My divine Lord, help me to see that which is within me that most harms my relationships with others. Help me to see that which causes isolation and hurt. Give me the humility to see this and the trust I need to turn to You to confess it and seek Your healing. You and You alone can free me from my sin, so I turn to You in confidence and surrender. With faith, I also await Your healing words, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Jesus, I trust in You.
An Act of the Greatest Charity
Friday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. Mark 2:3–4
This paralytic is a symbol of certain people in our lives who seem to be incapable of turning to our Lord by their own effort. It’s clear that the paralytic wanted healing, but he was unable to come to our Lord by his own effort. Therefore, the friends of this paralytic carried him to Jesus, opened the roof (since there was such a large crowd), and lowered the man down before Jesus.
The paralysis of this man is a symbol of a certain type of sin. It’s a sin that someone desires forgiveness for but is incapable of turning to our Lord by their own effort. For example, a serious addiction is something that can so dominate a person’s life that they cannot overcome this addiction by their own effort. They need the help of others to even be able to turn to our Lord for help.
We each must see ourselves as the friends of this paralytic. Too often when we see someone who is trapped in a life of sin, we simply judge them and turn away from them. But one of the greatest acts of charity we can offer another is to help provide them with the means they need to overcome their sin. This can be done by our counsel, our unwavering compassion, a listening ear, and by any act of fidelity to that person during their time of need and despair.
How do you treat people who are caught in the cycle of manifest sin? Do you roll your eyes at them and turn away? Or do you firmly determine to be there for them to give them hope and to assist them when they have little or no hope in life to overcome their sin? One of the greatest gifts you can give to another is the gift of hope by being there for them to help them turn fully to our Lord.
Reflect, today, upon a person you know who seems to be not only caught in the cycle of sin but has also lost hope to overcome that sin. Prayerfully surrender yourself over to our Lord and commit yourself to the charitable act of doing anything and everything you can so as to help them fully turn to our divine Lord.
My precious Jesus, fill my heart with charity toward those who need You the most but seem incapable of overcoming the sin in their lives that keep them from You. May my unwavering commitment to them be an act of charity that gives them the hope they need to surrender their life to You. Use me, dear Lord, my life is in Your hands. Jesus, I trust in You.
Discerning the Will of God
Saturday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed Jesus. Mark 2:14
How do you know the will of God for your life? In his spiritual classic, The Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius of Loyola presented three ways in which we come to know the will of God. (See mycatholic.life/ignatius for more.) The first way is the clearest and most definitive way. It is a time in which the person experiences a “clarity beyond doubting” as a result of a special grace of God. In describing this experience, Saint Ignatius mentions the passage quoted above as an illustration of this experience.
There is little said about this call of Levi in the Gospel of Mark, which is also recorded in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 9:9). Levi, who is also known as Matthew, was going about his occupation of collecting taxes at his customs post. It appears that Jesus spoke only these two simple words to Levi: “Follow me.” As a result of these two words, Levi abandons his former life and becomes a follower of Jesus. Why would Levi do such a thing? What was it that convinced him to follow Jesus? Clearly there was much more than just a two-word invitation from Jesus that convinced him to respond.
That which convinced Levi was a special grace of God which produced within his soul a “clarity beyond doubting.” Somehow Levi just knew that God was calling him to abandon his former life and embrace this new life. There was no long discussion, no weighing of the pros and cons, no prolonged thinking about it. Levi just knew, and he responded.
Though this form of clarity in life is rare, it’s important to be aware of the fact that sometimes God does act this way. Sometimes God speaks with such clarity that our conviction is certain and we know we must act. This is a great gift when it happens! And though this depth of instant clarity is not always the way God speaks to us, it’s important to acknowledge that God does speak to us this way at times.
Reflect, today, upon this call of Levi. Ponder this inner certitude he was given in that moment. Try to imagine what he experienced and what others may have thought of his choice to follow Jesus. Be open to this same grace; and if you ever feel as if God speaks to you with such clarity, be ready and willing to respond without hesitation.
My dear Lord, thank You for calling us all to follow You without hesitation. Thank You for the joy of being Your disciple. Give me the grace to always know Your will for my life and help me to respond to You with total abandonment and trust. 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.
Lord Jesus, 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.
To Fast or Not to Fast
Monday of the Second Week of Ordinary Time
“Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. Mark 2:19–20
The passage above reveals Jesus’ response to the disciples of John the Baptist and some Pharisees who question Jesus about fasting. They point out that the disciples of John and the Pharisees follow the Jewish laws on fasting, but Jesus’ disciples do not. Jesus’ answer goes to the heart of the new law on fasting.
Fasting is a wonderful spiritual practice. It helps to strengthen the will against disordered fleshly temptations and helps to bring purity to one’s soul. But it needs to be pointed out that fasting is not an eternal reality. One day, when we are face-to-face with God in Heaven, there will no longer be any need to fast or do any form of penance. But while on earth, we will struggle and fall and lose our way, and one of the best spiritual practices to help us return to Christ is prayer and fasting combined.
Fasting becomes necessary “when the bridegroom is taken away.” In other words, fasting is necessary when we sin and our union with Christ begins to fade. It is then that the personal sacrifice of fasting helps open our hearts once again to our Lord. This is especially true when habits of sin form and become deeply ingrained. Fasting adds much power to our prayer and stretches our souls so as to be able to receive the “new wine” of God’s grace where we need it the most.
Reflect, today, upon your approach to fasting and other penitential practices. Do you fast? Do you make regular sacrifices so as to strengthen your will and help you to turn more fully to Christ? Or has this healthy spiritual practice been somewhat neglected in your life? Renew your commitment to this holy endeavor today and God will work powerfully in your life.
Lord, I open my heart to the new wine of grace that You wish to pour forth upon me. Help me to be properly disposed to this grace and to use every means necessary to become more open to You. Help me, especially, to commit to the wonderful spiritual practice of fasting. May this act of mortification in my life bear abundant fruit for Your Kingdom. Jesus, I trust in You.
Keeping Holy the Sabbath
Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” Mark 2:23–24
The Pharisees were greatly concerned about many things that were distortions of the law of God. The Third Commandment calls us to “Keep holy the Sabbath Day.” Furthermore, we read in Exodus 20:8–10 that we are not to do any work on the Sabbath but are to use that day for rest. From this Commandment, the Pharisees developed extensive commentary on what was permitted and what was forbidden to do on the Sabbath. They determined that picking the heads of grain was one of the forbidden actions.
In many countries today, the Sabbath rest has all but disappeared. Sadly, Sunday is rarely set aside any longer for a day of worship and rest with family and friends. For that reason, this hypercritical condemnation of the disciples by the Pharisees is hard to relate to. The deeper spiritual issue seems to be the hyper “nitpicky” approach taken by the Pharisees. They were not so much concerned about honoring God on the Sabbath as they were interested in being judgmental and condemning. And though it may be rare today to find people overly scrupulous and nitpicky about the Sabbath rest, it’s often easy to find ourselves becoming nitpicky about many other things in life.
Consider your family and those who are closest to you. Are there things they do and habits they have formed that leave you constantly criticizing them? Sometimes we criticize others for actions that are clearly contrary to the laws of God. At different times, we criticize others on account of some exaggeration of fact on our part. Though it is important to speak charitably against violations of the external law of God, we must be very careful not to set ourselves up as the judge and jury of others, especially when our criticism is based on a distortion of the truth or an exaggeration of something minor. In other words, we must be careful not to become nitpicky ourselves.
Reflect, today, upon any tendency you have in your relationships with those closest to you toward being excessive and distorted in your criticism. Do you find yourself obsessing over the apparent minor faults of others on a regular basis? Try to step back from criticism today and renew, instead, your practice of mercy toward all. If you do, you may actually discover that your judgments of others do not fully reflect the truth of God’s law.
My merciful Judge, give me a heart of compassion and mercy toward all. Remove from my heart all judgmentalness and criticalness. I leave all judgment to You, dear Lord, and seek only to be an instrument of Your love and mercy. Jesus, I trust in You.
Grieved at the Hardness of Heart
Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. Mark 3:4–5
Sin damages our relationship with God. But hardness of heart is even more damaging because it perpetuates the damage done by sin. And the harder one’s heart, the more permanent the damage.
In the passage above, Jesus was angry with the Pharisees. Oftentimes the passion of anger is sinful, resulting from impatience and a lack of charity. But at other times, the passion of anger can be good when it is motivated by love of others and hatred for their sin. In this case, Jesus was grieved by the hardness of heart of the Pharisees, and that grief motivated His holy anger. His “holy” anger did not cause irrational criticism; rather, it drove Jesus to cure this man in the presence of the Pharisees so that they would soften their hearts and believe in Jesus. Sadly, it didn’t work. The very next line of the Gospel says, “The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death” (Mark 3:6).
Hardness of heart should be greatly avoided. The problem is that those who are hard of heart are usually not open to the fact that they are hard of heart. They are obstinate and stubborn, and oftentimes self-righteous. Therefore, when people suffer from this spiritual ailment, it is difficult for them to change, especially when confronted.
This Gospel passage offers you an important opportunity to look into your own heart with honesty. Only you and God need to be part of that interior introspection and conversation. Begin by reflecting upon the Pharisees and the poor example they set. From there, try to look at yourself with great honesty. Are you obstinate? Are you hardened in your convictions to the point that you are unwilling to even consider that you may be wrong at times? Are there people in your life with whom you have entered into a conflict that still remains? If any of this rings true, then you may indeed suffer from the spiritual ill of a hardened heart.
Reflect, today, upon your own soul and your relationships with others with as much honesty as possible. Do not hesitate to let your guard down and be open to what God may want to say to you. And if you detect even the slightest tendency toward a hardened and stubborn heart, beg our Lord to enter in to soften it. Change like this is difficult, but the rewards of such a change are incalculable. Do not hesitate and do not wait. Change is worth it in the end.
My loving Lord, this day I open myself to an examination of my own heart and pray that You will help me to always be open to change when necessary. Help me, especially, to see any hardness I may have within my heart. Help me to overcome any obstinacy, stubbornness and self-righteousness. Give me the gift of humility, dear Lord, so that my heart can become more like Yours. Jesus, I trust in You.
Thursday of the Second Week of Ordinary Time
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. Mark 3:9–10
It’s fascinating to ponder the enthusiasm that so many people had toward Jesus. In the passage above, we see Jesus asked His disciples to have a boat ready for Him so that He would not be crushed as He taught the crowd. He had been curing many who were sick, and the crowd was pressing upon Him to try to simply touch Him.
This scene provides us with an illustration of what must happen within our interior lives regarding our Lord. The people can be said to have been single-minded in their devotion to Jesus and fervent in their desire for Him. Granted, their desire may have been somewhat selfishly motivated by the desire for physical cures of their ailments and those of their loved ones, but nonetheless, their attraction was real and powerful, driving them to put their complete focus upon our Lord.
Jesus’ choice to get into a boat and distance Himself a bit from the crowd was also an act of love. Why? Because this act allowed Jesus to help them refocus upon His deeper mission. Though He did miracles out of compassion and so as to manifest His almighty power, His primary focus was to teach people and to lead them into the full Truth of the message He was preaching. Therefore, by separating Himself from them, they were invited to listen to Him rather than just try to touch Him for the sake of a physical miracle. For Jesus, the spiritual wholeness He desired to give the crowd was of much greater significance than any physical healing He also gave.
In our own lives, Jesus may “separate” Himself from us in somewhat superficial ways so that we will be more open to the deeper and more transforming purpose of His life. For example, He may remove certain feelings of consolation or permit us to encounter some trial through which He seems to be less present to us. But when this happens, it is always so that we will turn to Him on a deeper level of trust and openness so as to be drawn more deeply into a relationship of love.
Reflect, today, upon how single-minded your devotion is to our Lord. From there, ponder, also, if you are more attached to the good feelings and consolations you seek or if your devotion is deeper, focused more on the transforming message our Lord wants to preach to you. See yourself on that shore, listening to Jesus speak, and allow His holy words to transform your life more deeply.
My saving God, I turn to You, this day, and seek to be single-minded in my love and devotion to You. Help me, first and foremost, to listen to Your transforming Word and to allow that Word to become the central focus of my life. Jesus, I trust in You.
Confronting Evil with the Gospel
Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. Mark 3:14–15
The Twelve Apostles were first called by Jesus and then sent to preach with authority. The authority they were given was for the purpose of driving out demons. But how did they do that? It’s interesting to note that the authority they were given over demons was, in part, associated with their commission to preach. And though there are some recorded instances in the Scriptures of the Apostles driving out demons directly by command, it should also be understood that the preaching of the Gospel with the authority of Christ has a direct effect of driving out demons.
Demons are fallen angels. But even in their fallen state, they retain the natural powers they have, such as the power of influence and suggestion. They seek to communicate with us to deceive us and draw us away from Christ. The good angels, of course, also exercise this same natural power for our good. Our guardian angels, for example, constantly seek to communicate to us the truths of God and His grace. The angelic battle for good and evil is real, and as Christians we must be aware of this reality.
One of the greatest ways to confront satan and his demons is to listen to the Truth and to proclaim it with the authority of Christ. Though the Apostles were given a special authority for their preaching, every Christian, by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, is entrusted with the message of the Gospel to proclaim in various ways. And with that authority, we must constantly strive to bring forth the Kingdom of God. Doing so will have a direct impact on the diminishment of the kingdom of satan.
Reflect, today, upon your duty to share the Gospel with others. Sometimes this is done by an explicit sharing of the message of Jesus Christ, and at other times the message is shared more by our actions and virtue. But every Christian is entrusted with this mission and must learn to fulfill that mission with true authority, knowing that as that authority from Christ is exercised, the Kingdom of God increases and the activity of the evil one is overcome.
My all-powerful Lord, I thank You for the grace You have given me to proclaim the truth of Your saving message to those whom I encounter every day. Help me to fulfill my mission to preach in both word and deed and to do so with the gentle yet powerful authority given me by You. I offer myself to Your service, dear Lord. Do with me as You will. Jesus, I trust in You.
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
When you consider the sufferings of Jesus, most likely your thoughts first turn to the crucifixion. From there, you may think about His scourging at the pillar, the carrying of the Cross and the other events that took place from the time of His arrest until His death. However, there were many other human sufferings that our Lord endured for our good and the good of all. The Gospel passage above presents us with one such experience.
Though physical pain is quite undesirable, there are other sufferings that can be just as difficult to endure, if not more difficult. One such suffering is being misunderstood and treated by your own family as if you were out of your mind. In Jesus’ case, it appears as if many of His extended family, not including His own mother of course, were quite vocally critical of Jesus. Perhaps they were jealous of Him and had some form of envy, or perhaps they were embarrassed by all the attention He was getting. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that Jesus’ own relatives tried to prevent Him from ministering to the people who deeply longed to be with Him. Some of His extended family members made up the story that Jesus was “out of his mind” and sought to put an end to His popularity.
Family life should be a community of love, but for some it becomes a source of sorrow and hurt. Why did Jesus allow Himself to endure this form of suffering? In part, to be able to relate with any and every suffering you endure as a result of your own family. Additionally, His endurance of it also redeemed this form of suffering, making it possible for your family hurt to share in that redemption and grace. Thus, when you turn to God in prayer with your family struggles, you will be consoled to know that the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, understands your suffering from His own human experience. He knows the pain so many family members feel from first-hand experience. And He is able to look at every family suffering with the utmost compassion so as to give each person who asks the grace they need to not only endure that suffering but also to use it for good and for God’s glory.
Reflect, today, upon any way that you need to surrender some hurt within your own family over to God. Turn to our Lord Who fully understands your struggles and invite His powerful and compassionate presence into your life so that He can transform all that you endure into His grace and mercy.
My compassionate Lord, You endured much in this world, including the rejection and ridicule of those in Your own family. I offer to You my own family and especially the hurt that has been present. Please come and redeem all family struggles and bring healing and hope to me and to all those who need it the most. Jesus, I trust in You.