Is Jesus “Out of His Mind?” January 22, 2022


Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Vincent, Deacon and Martyr—Optional Memorial
(Celebrated outside of the USA)

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children—USA Memorial

Video

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.

9 Days for Life Novena
January 19–27

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Divine Mercy Reflections

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All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day –

Saint Vincent, Deacon and Martyr
(Celebrated January 23 in the USA)

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

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Featured image above: Christ Taking Leave of the Apostles By Duccio di Buoninsegna, via Wikimedia Commons

Being Called Up the Mountain with Jesus January 21, 2022


Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr—Memorial

Video

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.

9 Days for Life Novena
January 19–27

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Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

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Saint of the Day – Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr—Memorial

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Featured image above: Appearance on the Mountain in Galilee By Duccio di Buoninsegna, via Wikimedia Commons

Trusting in the Authority of the Church January 20, 2022


Thursday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Fabian, Pope and Martyr—Optional Memorial

Saint Sebastian, Martyr—Optional Memorial

Video

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 others.

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.

9 Days for Life Novena
January 19–27

More Gospel Reflections

Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

All Saints/Feasts

Saints of the Day –

Saint Fabian, Pope and Martyr—Optional Memorial

Saint Sebastian, Martyr—Optional Memorial

Mass Reading Options

Featured image above: The Pool By Palma il Giovane, via Wikimedia Commons

Freedom From the Confusion of Sin January 19, 2022


Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

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.

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Featured images above: Healing a woman on Sabbath By Matthias Gerung, via Wikimedia Commons

The Lord’s Day is For You! January 18, 2022


Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

“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.

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Featured images above: The Pharisees and the Saduccees Come to Tempt Jesus By James Tissot, via Brooklyn Museum

Making All Things New January 17, 2022


Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Anthony of Egypt, Abbot—Memorial

Video

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.

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Divine Mercy Reflections

Scripture Meditations for Ordinary Time

All Saints/Feasts

Saint of the Day – Saint Anthony of Egypt, Abbot

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Featured images above: Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea By James Tissot, via Brooklyn Museum

Words of Wisdom From our Blessed Mother Sunday, January 16, 2022


Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Readings for Today

Video

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.

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Featured image above: The Wedding Feast at Cana By Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, via Wikimedia Commons

The Draw of Jesus  January 14, 2022


Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home.  Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them.  Mark 2:1-2

There were so many people coming to Jesus that there was no room for everyone, not even around the door to the house He was in.  This is an interesting situation.  On a practical note, why wouldn’t Jesus have noticed this dilemma and done something about it?  Why not move out into a larger area where everyone could see and hear Him?

It’s hard to answer that question but there is one thing of which we can be certain.  We can be certain that those who came to listen to Him, even if they could not get in, were greatly rewarded for their faith.  This passage reveals a very important spiritual principle.  It reveals that the spiritual longing to be near Jesus was, in and of itself, transforming.

Often times we will have a similar experience.  We may find that we long to hear Jesus speak to us, but we cannot seem to hear Him.  It may be that He appears silent to us or that we do not know where to find Him.  But do not be disheartened if this is your experience.  The fact of the matter is that your desire to be with Him is itself a great gift and has potential to transform your life.

Reflect, today, upon what may be termed “the silence of God.”  There may be times in your life when God seems to be distant and is nowhere to be found.  When this happens, you should realize that this is a way for God to call you even closer to Himself.  It’s a way for God to whisper so as to gain your full attention.  If this is a “struggle” that you experience at times, turn your attention to our Lord all the more intensely and allow the desire for Him to grow.  It is this desire to be near Jesus that may actually produce much greater fruit in your life than if you were to hear Him loud and clear.

My silent Lord, please increase within me a desire to be near You.  Help me to long for You with all my heart.  In that longing, help me to shed all that is not of You and to give You my full attention.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Crowds gather as Christ heals the sick. Engraving by T. Phil, via Wikimedia Commons

The Purpose of Jesus’ Mission  January 12, 2022


Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.  Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”  He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also.  For this purpose have I come.”  Mark 1:35-38

Why did Jesus come?  What was the purpose of His life on Earth?  This passage reveals that He came to preach to all people the Good News.

But do understand that statement properly.  This does not mean that Jesus’ life is only about what He taught.  It’s not as if He were a great man of wisdom who came to share His wisdom with us.  Though that statement is true, it fails to reveal the full truth of Jesus and His mission.

So what was He all about?  He was about preaching Himself as THE Truth that is spoken.  Jesus IS the full revelation of the Father in Heaven and is the revelation of ALL Truth.  Therefore, Jesus’ statement means that He came to share Himself, in His fullness, with all people.  He came to share Himself with those He preached to, literally, as He traveled from village to village.  It means that He continues to share Himself with all of us every time we listen to and receive His Living Word:  The Living Word of His very life.

Reflect, today, upon the fact that Jesus desires to “travel” to the village of your mind and heart.  He wants to seek you out and bring not only His words of eternal life, but also His very self.  Let yourself be ministered to by Jesus and allow Him to speak to you with clarity and truth.

My Lord of all Truth, I seek You and am open to letting You seek me.  Help me to be open to all that You wish to reveal to me and help me to receive You as the Living Gospel.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Christ on the Mount of Olives By Josef August Untersberger, via Wikimedia Commons

Jesus’ Authority is Clear January 11, 2022


Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Video

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.  The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.  Mark 1:21-22

As we enter into this First Week in Ordinary Time, we are given the image of Jesus teaching in the synagogue.  And as He teaches, it’s clear that there is something special about Him.  He is one who teaches with a new authority.

This statement in Mark’s Gospel contrasts Jesus with the scribes who apparently teach without this unmistakable authority.  This statement should not go unnoticed.

Jesus exercised His authority in His teaching not so much because He wanted to, but because He had to.  This is who He is.  He is God and when He speaks He speaks with the authority of God.  He speaks in such a way that people know His words have transforming meaning.  His words effect change in people’s lives.

This should invite each one of us to reflect upon the authority of Jesus in our lives.  Do you notice His authority spoken to you?  Do you see His words, spoken in Sacred Scripture, having an effect upon your life?

Reflect, today, upon this image of Jesus teaching in the synagogue.  Know that the “synagogue” represents your own soul and that Jesus desires to be there speaking to you with authority.  Let His words sink in and change your life.

My authoritative Lord, I open myself to You and Your voice of authority.  Help me to allow You to speak with clarity and truth.  As You do, help me to be open to allowing You to change my life.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Christ teaching in Capernaum By Maurycy Gottlieb, via Wikimedia Commons