Saturday, January 31, 2015
To read the texts click on the texts: Dt 18:15-20; 1 Cor7:32-35; Mk 1:21-28
An old American Indian tale recounts the story of a chief who was telling a gathering of young braves about the struggle within. “It is like two dogs fighting inside of us,” the chief told them. “There is one good dog who wants to do the right and the other dog always wants to do the wrong. Sometimes the good dog seems stronger and right is winning the fight. But sometimes the bad dog is stronger and wrong is winning the fight.”
“Who is going to win in the end?” a young brave asks.
“The one you feed,” the chief answered.
Since for both kings and priests, authority was based on an inherited status, they often became unresponsive to people’s needs. This is one of the main reasons why prophets were needed. Prophets would not inherit their status but would be appointed by God to bring newness and revolution into the lives of people. They would be charismatic and would preach what God commanded them to preach. To some, it seems that they were self appointed. This is why they had to have a strong local following in order to limit or even nullify any attempt to thwart their message. Moses tells the people that the prophet, whom God will raise, will be like him and from among them. This will ensure that their teachings will accord with the teachings of Moses and will be for the benefit of the people even though, at times, the words they would speak would not be easy to digest.
The Gospel text of today narrates that Moses’ prophesy was fulfilled in the most perfect in Jesus. It is significant that, even before Jesus can begin his public ministry, Mark contrasts his teachings with that of the scribes. Though the content is not explicated, it is clear that the teaching of Jesus is a teaching based, not on learning as that of the scribes was but, on experience, and that he believed that his authority came directly from God, as is evident when he comes into Galilee proclaiming the “good news of God” (1:14).
This “teaching” is then shown, in action, in the exorcism that follows, which is the first miracle that Jesus works in the Gospel of Mark. Through this, the authority of Jesus is demonstrated. The demon also recognizes the authority of Jesus and regards him as superior. The demon knows that Jesus has been divinely ordained and set apart by God. As “prophet” of God, Jesus utters a commanding word and subdues the demon. The demon obeys the command and leaves the man. The crowd’s response indicates how authoritative is Jesus’ teaching. With just a word from Jesus, the demon is subdued. The coming of Jesus, as “prophet” of God, signals the end of all satanic and demonic forces.
The demonic forces that Jesus subdued in his time continue to raise their ugly heads, again and again. They take a variety of forms. The recent financial crisis from which the whole world is still reeling and because of which, many have lost their hard earned money, strikes terror in various parts of the world. The hunger of so many people when the world has enough and more for all and the environmental degradation are striking examples of these demonic forces today. One response that we might be tempted to give is to lay the blame for the present situation in our world at God’s door. Since Jesus could exorcise demons at will, what is preventing him from doing so now? Is not God concerned about the plight of so many of his people? Why does he not act? This, however, is not an adult response.
We have to realize that the demons that are rearing their ugly heads are not willed by God but are a creation of our own selfishness and self-centeredness. If we keep feeding the “bad dog: as we seem to want to do, then it will keep winning. To be sure, the coming of Jesus means that Satan’s rule is at an end, but for this to become a reality today we have to collaborate with Jesus in wanting to exorcise those demons. We can do this, no matter in what state of life we are, if we, like Paul, and have the best interests of others at hear. If we too, like him, want to promote what is good and pleasing to the Lord, then the demons can once again be subdued and God’s power can be seen at work in the world again, like it was in Jesus’ time. Then, the “good dog” will win.
Friday, January 30, 2015
Saturday, January 31, 2015 - Have you stopped rowing the boat of life because you are overwhelmed with the storms? Will you start rowing again today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Heb 11:1-2,8-19; Mk 4:35-41
The Gospel reading of today appears immediately after Jesus has completed the Parable Discourse. It is commonly referred to as the miracle of the calming of the storm. While this miracle appears also in the Gospels in Matthew and Luke, the language of the disciples in Mark is harsh. In Matthew, the disciples address Jesus as Lord, and their cry is a plea for help, much like our “Lord have mercy” at the penitential rite. In Luke, like in Mark, Jesus is addressed as “Master” but no allegation about his uncaring attitude is made. In Mark, the disciples allege that Jesus is unconcerned about them. Mark also brings out the contrast between the agitated disciples and the serene Jesus. Jesus is able with a word to calm the forces of nature, and suddenly, there is a great calm.
The boat has often been seen as a symbol of Christianity. The storm then would be the trials and tribulations that attack Christianity from without. Jesus is present with his people even in the midst of all these trials, even though sometimes it may appear that he is asleep and unconcerned. He is able with a word to clam these forces, and so there is no need for agitation and anxious care. We need to keep rowing and trust that he will see us safely to the shore.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Friday, January 30, 2015 - Do you more often than not focus on the present or the future? Do you focus on the now or on the later?
To read the texts click on the texts: Heb 10:32-39; Mk 4:26-32
The text of today contains two parables. The first of these (4,26-29) is known as the Parable of the seed growing secretly, and is found only in the Gospel of Mark. The second (4,30-32), known as the Parable of the Mustard seed is also found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
In the first parable the point that is being made is that the one who scatters the seed only does so and then goes about his routine, not worried about the outcome of his effort. The seed continues to grow, simply because he has first scattered it. He knows that by worrying the seed will not grow faster, and so he lets it be.
In the Parable of the Mustard seed, the point that is made is that from little, there will be much. Small beginnings have great endings. The parable is a call to begin what one has to do without worrying about how small or big the outcome will be. The growth is sure and definite.
When Mark says in 4,33 that Jesus did not speak to the people without a parable, he is in effect saying that there was a parabolic character about all of Jesus’ teaching. This means that all of Jesus’ teaching involved the listener and it was the listener who supplied the lesson to the teaching and not Jesus. This indicates a freedom of choice that every listener was given at the time of Jesus. They were the ones to decide for or against. Jesus would never force them to accept his point of view.
It is sometimes the case that we spend much of our time worrying about the outcome of our actions even before we can do them. This attitude does not allow us to be in the present moment and so the action that we do is not done to the best of our ability. We do not put ourselves fully into the action that we do. At other times, we do not act at all but only worry. While the first of today’s parable is calling us to act and then relax rather than worry, the second is assuring us that our actions will indeed bear fruit.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
To read the texts click on the texts: Heb 10:19-25; Mk 4:21-25
The text of today follows immediately after the interpretation of the Parable of the Sower and the seed and contains two similes: that of the lamp and the measure. In Mark they seem to be connected with the response that a person makes to the Word spoken by Jesus. This Word is not an esoteric or secret Word. It is a Word that is to be make known, to be revealed, like a lamp is to be on a lamp stand. If one is open and receptive to this Word (the Measure of one’s openness) one will receive from God not only the ability to understand it but also to assimilate it.
Sometimes our closed attitudes and minds and our reluctance to accept change and newness may result in our missing out on all the revelations of the glory of God taking place around us. If we only open the eyes of our heart to see and the ears of our hearts to hear, we will be able to find God in all things and all things in him.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 - How often have you given into despair and lost hope? Will you continue to hope today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Heb 10:11-18; Mk 4:1-20
The text of today is taken from what is known as The Parable Discourse in the Gospel of Mark. The text contains an introduction to the Discourse (4:1-2), the parable of the Sower (4:3-9), a saying on the kingdom and its secret (4:10-12) and the interpretation of the parable (4:13-20). It is important that while it is likely that Jesus uttered the parable, in all probability the interpretation is the work of the early church. This is why; the interpretation of these texts must be done separately.
The parable of the Sower seems to point out that of the four types of soil in which the seed falls, it is LOST in three types and bears fruit in only one type. This indicates that while three quarters of the effort are lost, only a quarter is gain. However, the focus of the parable is not on the loss but on the gain, which even that one-quarter brings. The Parable is pointing out to the fact that this is how life often is. Three quarters of our efforts seem to be wasted and it is possible that when this happens we may give in to despair. However, we are called to focus not on this but on the enormous gain that the one-quarter of our effort will indeed bring.
We may tend to lose heart when we see that most of our efforts do not seem to be bearing fruit. At times like these the Parable of the Sower offers hope that even though much of our effort may seem to be lost, the gain that will arise from it will be enormous. It invites us not to ever lose heart but to keep on doing our part and leave the rest to God. It is calling us to sow and rest confident in the hope that God will make it grow.
Monday, January 26, 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015 - If Jesus were to point to his family today, would you be counted as a member?
To read the texts click on the texts: Heb 10:1-10; Mk 3:31-35
The text of today forms the second part of the “sandwich” construction that Mark has used here. He introduced the family of Jesus in 3:20-21, interrupted this with the text on the Beelzebul controversy (3:22-30) and returns to the family of Jesus is today’s text 3:31-35. By using such a structure, Mark indicates that the family of Jesus are also hostile to Jesus. Also, Mark places them “outside” while Jesus is “inside” the house. This too indicates that they are not disciples. Jesus then defines family in terms of those who do the will of God. Some also think that by not mentioning the father of Jesus, Mark wants to assert that for Jesus and his disciples, only God is Father.
We may imagine that because we have been baptised are bear the name Christian we are automatically counted as members of Jesus’ family. However, baptism alone will not make us members of Jesus’ family, but the living out of the baptismal promises in our lives. This means that we must each do what we are called to do, namely our best at every given moment.