SIXTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
I Do Will It!
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” Mark 1:40–41
“I do will it.” These four little words are worth digging into and pondering. At first, we may read these words quickly and miss their depth and significance. We may simply jump to that which Jesus wills and miss the fact of His willing itself. But His act of willing is significant. Sure, that which He willed is significant also. The fact that He cured a leper has great meaning and significance. Certainly it shows us His authority over nature. It shows His almighty power. It shows that Jesus can heal all wounds that are analogized by leprosy. But don’t miss those four words: “I do will it.”
First of all, the two words “I do” are sacred words used at various times in our liturgies and are used to profess faith and commitment. They are used in marriages to establish an unbreakable spiritual union, they are used in baptisms and other sacraments to renew our faith publicly, and they are also used in the ordination rite of priests as he makes his solemn promises. To say “I do” is what one may call “action words.” They are words that are also an act, a choice, a commitment, a decision. They are words that have an effect on who we are and what we choose to become.
Jesus also adds “…will it.” So Jesus is not just making a personal choice here or a personal commitment about His own life and convictions; rather, His words are an action that is effective and that makes a difference for another. The mere fact that He wills something, and then sets that will into motion by His words, means something happened. Something changed. An act of God was accomplished.
It would be of great benefit to us to sit with those words and ponder what sort of significance they have in our lives. When Jesus speaks those words to us, what is He willing? What is the “it” He is referring to? He definitely has a particular will for our lives, and He is definitely willing to enact it in our lives if we are willing to hear those words.
In this Gospel passage, the leper was completely disposed to Jesus’ words. He was on his knees before Jesus as a sign of complete trust and complete submission. He was ready to have Jesus act in his life, and it is this openness, more than anything else, that evokes these action words from Jesus.
The leprosy is a clear sign of our own weaknesses and sin. It’s a clear sign of our fallen human nature and weakness. It’s a clear sign that we cannot heal ourselves. It’s a clear sign that we need the Divine Healer. When we acknowledge all of these realities and truths, we will be in a position, just like this leper, to turn to Jesus, on our knees, and beg His action in our lives.
Reflect, today, upon Jesus’ words and listen to what He is saying to you through them. Jesus wills it. Do you? And if you do, are you willing to turn to Him and ask Him to act? Are you willing to ask for and receive His will?
Lord, I do will it. I do. I acknowledge Your divine will in my life. But sometimes my will is weak and insufficient. Help me to deepen my resolve to daily turn to You, the Divine Healer, so that I may encounter Your healing power. Help me to be open to whatever Your will includes for my life. Help me to be ready and willing to accept Your action in my life. Jesus, I do trust in You.
From the Depths
Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Mark 8:11–12
Jesus had performed many miracles. He healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and fed thousands with only a few fish and loaves of bread. But even after all of that, the Pharisees came to argue with Jesus and demanded a sign from Heaven.
The response of Jesus is quite unique. “He sighed from the depth of his spirit…” This sigh was an expression of His holy sorrow over the hardness of hearts of the Pharisees. If they had the eyes of faith, they would have no need for yet another miracle. And if Jesus would have performed a “sign from heaven” for them, even that would not have helped them. And so Jesus does the only thing He can—He sighed.
At times, this type of reaction is the only good one. We may all face situations in life where others confront us with harshness and stubbornness. When this happens, we will be tempted to argue with them, condemn them, try to convince them we are right, and the like. But sometimes one of the holiest reactions we can have to the hardness of our heart of another is to experience a deep and holy sorrow. We must also “sigh” from the depths of our spirits.
When one is hard of heart, rational talking and arguing will prove to be of little avail. Hardness of heart is also what we traditionally call the “sin against the Holy Spirit.” It’s a sin of obstinacy and stubbornness. In that case, there is little or no openness to the truth. When you experience this in the life of another, silence and a sorrowful heart are often the best reaction. Their hearts need to be softened and your deep sorrow, shared with compassion, may be one of the only responses that can help make a difference.
Reflect, today, upon any person in your life with whom you regularly argue, especially regarding matters of faith. Examine your approach and consider changing how you relate to them. Dismiss their irrational arguments and let them see your heart in the same way that Jesus allowed His divine heart to shine forth in a holy sigh. Pray for them, have hope, and allow your sorrow to help melt the most stubborn of hearts.
My compassionate Jesus, Your heart was filled with the deepest compassion for the Pharisees. That compassion led You to express a holy sorrow over their stubbornness. Give me Your same heart, dear Lord, and help me to grieve not only over the sins of others, but also over my own sins, especially when I am stubborn of heart. Melt my heart, dear Lord, and help me to also be an instrument of Your holy sorrow to those in need of this grace. Jesus, I trust in You.
Comprehending the Mysteries of Heaven
Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
“Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?” Mark 8:17–18
How would you answer these questions that Jesus posed to His disciples if He had posed them to you? It takes humility to admit that you do not yet understand or comprehend, that your heart is in fact hardened, and that you fail to see and hear all that God has revealed. Of course there are various levels to these struggles, so hopefully you do not struggle with them to a grave degree. But if you can humbly confess that you do struggle with these to a certain extent, then that humility and honesty will gain you much grace.
Jesus posed these questions to His disciples within the larger context of a discussion about the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod. He knew that the “leaven” of these leaders was like a yeast that corrupted others. Their dishonesty, pride, desire for honors and the like had a seriously negative affect upon the faith of others. So by posing these questions above, Jesus challenged His disciples to see this evil leaven and to reject it.
Seeds of doubt and confusion are all around us. It seems these days that almost everything the secular world promotes is in some way contrary to the Kingdom of God. And yet, just like the disciples’ inability to see the evil leaven of the Pharisees and Herod, we also frequently fail to see the evil leaven within our society. Instead, we allow the many errors to confuse us and lead us down the path of secularism.
One thing this should teach us is that just because someone has some form of authority or power within society does not mean that they are a truthful and holy leader. And though it’s never our place to judge the heart of another, we absolutely must have “ears to hear” and “eyes to see” the many errors that are held up within our world as good. We must constantly seek to “understand and comprehend” the laws of God and use them as a guide against the lies within the world. One important way to make sure we do this well is to make sure that our hearts never become hardened to the truth.
Reflect, today, upon these questions of our Lord and examine them especially within the broader context of society as a whole. Consider the false “leaven” taught by our world and by so many in positions of authority. Reject these errors and recommit yourself to the full embrace of the holy mysteries of Heaven so that those truths and those truths alone become your daily guide.
My glorious Lord, I thank You for being the Lord of all Truth. Help me to daily turn my eyes and ears to that Truth so that I will be able to see the evil leaven all around me. Give me wisdom and the gift of discernment, dear Lord, so that I will be able to immerse myself into the mysteries of Your holy life. Jesus, I trust in You.