Gospel Meditations

GOSPEL MEDITATION FOR
25 JANUARY, 2017, WEDNESDAY, 3RD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
BY REV FR ERBIN FERNANDEZ, SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR, CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY CENTRE (CSC)
COPYRIGHTS RESERVED.

“GO OUT TO THE WHOLE WORLD; PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS” (MARK 16:15)

GOSPEL: MARK 16:15-18

http://www.universalis.com/20170125/mass.htm

(I sense Jesus wanting to meet me. I prayerfully call upon the Holy Spirit to be present. I prayerfully read today’s gospel passage slowly once through. I sit in silence for a few minutes with the gospel text. I now pray through the following meditation. I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me, pausing wherever I need to.)

Today, the Church remembers the conversion of St. Paul with great enthusiasm.  Indeed, in the Office of Readings for the Feast, the lesson from St. John Chrysostom is brimming with passion and conviction – “The most important thing of all to St. Paul, however, was that he knew himself to be loved by Christ.  Enjoying this love, he considered himself happier than anyone else; were he without it, it would be no satisfaction to be the friend of principalities and powers.  He preferred to be thus loved and be the least of all, or even to be among the damned, than to be without that love and be among the great and honoured.  To be separated from that love was, in his eyes, the greatest and most extraordinary of torments; the pain of that loss would alone have been hell, and endless, unbearable torture.  So too, in being loved by Christ, St. Paul thought of himself as possessing life, the world, the angels, present and future, the kingdom, the promise and countless blessings.  Apart from that love, nothing saddened or delighted him; for nothing earthly did he regard as bitter or sweet.   Paul set no store by the things that fill our visible world, any more than a man sets value on the withered grass of the field.  As for tyrannical rulers or the people enraged against him, he paid them no more heed than gnats.  Death itself and pain and whatever torments might come were but child’s play to him, provided that thereby he might bear some burden for the sake of Christ.”[1]

Upon reading this reflection, I was set afire to meditate on the love of Christ for me that enveloped St. Paul, especially after His Damascus experience.  My question was, why did that experience stay with him the rest of his life?  Isn’t it true for us that after a retreat, we have a spiritual experience that feels great but it dies away?  What was different for Paul?  Jesus has the answer for us today in the gospel – “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.” This is the fundamental identity of the Christian that roots itself in the announcement of the Good News.  Every time Paul announced the Good News, it confirmed his original experience as real and not a figment of his imagination because he saw conversion in others too and great signs and miracles.  If you want to deepen the grace you have received from an encounter with the Lord, then you have to announce it to others through the witness of your life and inviting people to also “give themselves” to the Lord.  What does that mean? To give yourself to the Lord …. Ah well, that is for another reflection!  But the sign that you have is outlined by Jesus …. “These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.”

This is our heritage as Christians; this is our calling and we are proud to profess it to the world we live in as a service to them and ourselves. Pray and ask St. Paul to help you to live as a committed disciple of Christ today!

Action: Today I will take one concrete action to bear witness to Christ and the Good News.

(I journal: What phrase touched me today? What is Jesus inviting me to live today? I ask for a specific grace for today.)

 


[1] http://www.universalis.com/20170125/readings.htm 2nd Reading from the Office of Readings, Conversion of St. Paul

 

GOSPEL MEDITATION FOR
24 JANUARY, 2017, TUESDAY, 3RD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
BY REV FR ERBIN FERNANDEZ, SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR, CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY CENTRE (CSC)
COPYRIGHTS RESERVED.

“HERE ARE MY MOTHER AND MY BROTHERS” (MARK 3:34)

GOSPEL: MARK 3:31-35

http://www.universalis.com/20170124/mass.htm

(I sense Jesus wanting to meet me. I prayerfully call upon the Holy Spirit to be present. I prayerfully read today’s gospel passage slowly once through. I sit in silence for a few minutes with the gospel text. I now pray through the following meditation. I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me, pausing wherever I need to.)

The last few days, we have been reflecting on the gospel of Mark Chapter Three.  This passage today about the mother and brothers of Jesus coming to look for Him concludes this chapter.  So to understand the words of Jesus in context, we need to look at this chapter as a whole.  The teachers of the Law observe Jesus carefully to use something against Him; the Devil is constantly trying to disrupt His ministry; Jesus appoints twelve apostles out of which one will betray Him and the rest will abandon Him; the teachers of the law finally cannot deny His power and so accuse Him of using evil powers in His ministry and the final blow that even His own cousins are convinced that Jesus is out of His mind and so have come ot take charge of Him. Jesus is increasingly finding Himself alone and misunderstood.

So what Jesus says in response to the fact that His mother and brothers are here to see Him is not a criticism of family relationships nor of His mother and brothers.  It is instead a kind of elaboration on the new kinds of relationships that are needed with Him.  Relationships that are compared to familial ties but actually even rise above that.  It is this sort of faithfulness that leads to the deepest connection of love.  This is why Jesus says elsewhere in the gospels that all those who do not hate father, mother, and even their own lives is not worthy to be His disciples.  What Jesus means to say is that the coming of the Kingdom of God ushers in a new set of relationships that demand a reversal of the conditional relationships that are established in our fallen humanity.  Even in the most sacrificial of human relationships between husband and wife (for example), there is still a desire to want something back in return – either affection or acknowledgement.  As we say rather commonly, it is only human.  But Jesus says that it was not like this in the beginning.  Our first parents were created in the unbroken image of God and they lived in harmony with all creation and were rulers over it all.  But when they broke faith with God, listening to the lie of the Evil One, all relatonships became dominating and suspicious of each other.  And hence Cain replies God, “Am I my bother’s keeper?”

With the coming of Jesus into the world, all human relationships are now elevated to their original calling and destiny.  Each on of us has the potential now in the power of the Holy Spirit to love according to the will of God!  “Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.”  This is now the sign of a disciple of Christ, the one who can love according to the dimension of the Cross, who can willingly lay down his life for the other. This is the mark of the Christian and it was very powerfully witnessed to in the lives of the martyrs of the early Church.  How about you?  Can you love like this today?

Action: Today I will reflect on whether I have come into my own personhood.

(I journal: What phrase touched me today? What is Jesus inviting me to live today? I ask for a specific grace for today.)