The Price Of Righteousness: Mark 6:14-30


King Herod heard about it, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.” But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.” Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore (many things) to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.

I’ve often thought, would I have become a Christian, if I’d known what all it entailed? The short answer is yes, because I haven’t renounced my faith or turned away from God. But there are times (like now) when I seriously think of throwing in the towel for the seeming injustices in my life, yet Peter’s words hauntingly return to me, “To whom shall we go?” [Jn. 6:68]

John the Baptist followed God. He did and said all that God had given him to say and do. He was the first to recognize Jesus for who He was, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29) With all the righteousness and truth in his life, he suffered the death of a criminal.

It seems John had not only been “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk. 1:4). He pointed out the specific sin of Herod and Herodias, “It is not lawful for you to have your brothers wife.

You can not tell the story of Christianity without recounting the deaths of those who told the truth….. and died.

God gives us His Spirit for strength in this journey, I know that, and yet I feel abandoned, though I know I’m not.

When John the Baptist was in prison we see that he sent some of his disciples to Jesus, to ask Him, “Are you the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?

We all have bouts with doubts in our faith, but this is starting to take a toll on me. Please pray for me my brothers and sisters.

Keep the faith.

Amen.

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The Hem of His Garment: Mark 5 : 42-34


He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.  She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

Last week we looked at how Jairus’ faith affected his daughters life. This week we look at the woman with an issue of blood or as stated above with hemorrhages, and this went on for twelve years.

Just what is this hemorrhage? Let’s look to the Old Testament book of Leviticus, chapter 15, verses 19 – 30:

“When a woman has her menstrual flow, she shall be in a state of impurity for seven days. Anyone who touches her shall be unclean until evening. Anything on which she lies or sits during her impurity shall be unclean. Anyone who touches her bed shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Whoever touches any article of furniture on which she was sitting, shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.  But if she is on the bed or on the seat when he touches it, he shall be unclean until evening. If a man dares to lie with her, he contracts her impurity and shall be unclean for seven days; every bed on which he then lies also becomes unclean. “When a woman is afflicted with a flow of blood for several days outside her menstrual period, or when her flow continues beyond the ordinary period, as long as she suffers this unclean flow she shall be unclean, just as during her menstrual period. Any bed on which she lies during such a flow becomes unclean, as it would during her menstruation, and any article of furniture on which she sits becomes unclean just as during her menstruation. Anyone who touches them becomes unclean; he shall wash his garments, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. “If she becomes freed from her affliction, she shall wait seven days, and only then is she to be purified. On the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance of the meeting tent. The priest shall offer up one of them as a sin offering and the other as a holocaust. Thus shall the priest make atonement before the LORD for her unclean flow.

This woman, who we assume knew the Law, was taking a great risk by coming out into the crowd. Her family, friends, her doctors and the rabbis in her religious community, all knew of her uncleanness. So you can see the desperation in her action. What did she have to loose? Her existence was in total isolation – as if she were dead. She sure wasn’t living, was she?

From one of my commentaries, it states the following (from the Rabbinical books):

The remedy for a female hemorrage: Let them dig seven ditches, in which let them burn some cuttings of vines under four years old. Let her take in her hand a cup of wine; let them lead her away from this ditch and make her sit over that. Let them remove her from that and sit her over another. At each removal you must say to her, ‘Arise for thy flux.'” That’s not medicine, is it? Well, it was at this time. No wonder her patience – not to mention her money – had expired.

She had heard about Jesus, His healing of others, the casting out of unclean spirits. Saying to herself, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” What an act of faith! As St. Paul himself would later write in his letter to the Romans, “Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17)

Her faith caused her to act. To seek Christ and His healing. Just as Jairus’ faith had caused him to act, on behalf of his daughter. One faith, one Lord, expressing itself differently an yet, the same.

“Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” These are His words to us today. Our faith – our active faith – will save us. For it sends us to Him.

So this week, let us turn to Him in faith, seeking to do what pleases Him. Have a great week and enjoy this song by Sam Cooke, “The Hem of His Garment.”

Amen.

“Do not be afraid” A Parable Realized: Mark 5:21-24,35-43


When Jesus had crossed again (in the boat) to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.  So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was.  He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. (At that) they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

We discussed last week in A Man Reborn , how possibly Jesus used this incident to prepare the disciples for His own resurrection. This week, as we look at the healing of Jairus’ daughter we will see that it’s much more than a healing…it’s a resurrection! It will also be the first of the eye witnessed resurrection’s for the disciples (at least for Peter, James and John). This would help the disciples to understand fully what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the resurrection an the life..” (John 11:25).

So let us look at the details that Sacred Scripture provides.

Our text tells us that Jairus was a synagogue official (or ruler). He is not described as a Pharisee or a Sadducee. Neither is he described as a scribe. There is one reference in Sacred Scripture as to the duties of the position (Acts 13:15). It’s believed that he was an elder who presided over Sabbath services and other weekly activities. We shouldn’t confuse their leadership, with that of the Temple leadership. That is were the Pharisees and the Sadducees “hung out.” The synagogue provided teaching and life application; the Temple was the place of sacrifice. Anyway, the point is, Jesus had influence  with a great cross-section of people. The rich and the poor, the educated as well as the uneducated. With the religious and the nonreligious. Jairus must have been aware of Jesus’ ministry, having heard or even seen some of His miracles, after all, he had the faith to seek Jesus out as the only hope  for his daughter.

Can we make that claim? Can we truly say, “Jesus is my only hope “? OK, maybe we can say it, but do we live it ? When crisis arise in our lives, is it Jesus we go to first? Is He our only hope? Do we rush to the presence of our Savior, praying, seeking His word for guidance and direction? Or do we exhaust all our other resources, using our own strength and wisdom only to reach a dead-end  and say, “I guess all I can do now is pray.” It should be the first, middle and last  thing we do!!

I mean, this man Jairus, a leader of worship to the one true God of Israel, himself fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him. Is this our testimony?

On the way to Jairus’ house, another incident occurs (which we will examine next week) and while Jesus addresses that situation, the news comes to Jairus that his daughter has died. “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”

Sacred Scripture then tells us that Jesus disregarding the message that was reported said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” And this is still His message for us today! Do not be afraid; just have faith.

Jairus had just heard that his daughter had died. What grief, disappointment and a sense of having failed  in his quest to help his daughter, must have filled his heart. But Jesus offers comfort and hope with His words, Do not be afraid, meaning that He was in total control of the situation. Yet, He invites him (as well as us) to respond accordingly, just have faith.

When they arrive at the house, the people ridiculed Him. But Jairus isn’t swayed by that unbelieving crowd, he clings to Jesus’ promise, Do not be afraid. They enter the room and Jesus takes the hand of the lifeless twelve year old girl and says to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

I think one aspect of the story that we often times miss, is that of a third party faith. The daughter was sick, and this sickness lead to her death. The father took his faith  to Jesus, to restore his daughter, since the daughter couldn’t do it for herself – and the love for his daughter compelled him to action. This is a lesson we need to put in the front of our minds. This applies to our prayers and our actions toward others as well. For our faith should lead us to action.

So this week, let us imitate Jairus’ faith. No matter what our religious background, or our leadership position; let us see Jesus as our only hope. Not to be swayed by a crowd that may ridicule us for our faith, but to cling to Jesus’ words of encouragement, Do not be afraid.

May God bless you this week as you seek to live out the gospel.

Amen.

Do You Not Yet Have Faith? :Mark 4:35-41


On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

Jesus and his disciples now leave the region of Galilee and head for Gerasene. In between their departure and their arrivial, they face a violent squall that brings fear to their hearts.

We all have storms  in our lives, but how many of us would describe them as violent squalls? St. Mark, in describing the storm this way, really conjures up in our imagination, the intensity and fierceness of the storm. Would you describe any storm  in your life as a violent squall? Think on it for a moment; Has any storm in your life, caused you to hear the Savior say, “Do you not yet have faith?” When things in our lives become so intense, it can be very tempting  to question God, to deny our faith and to resist the truth.

The wind was fierce, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Does that sound familiar? You feel as if you are sinking. You know Jesus is with you, but He’s asleep! “He has no idea what’s going on! He doesn’t understand how I feel, the fear that is within me. I feel as if I’m going to die!”

In an allegorical interpretation of this passage of Sacred Scripture, St. Bede the Venerable  states (In Lucan 31) that Jesus’ sleep signifes His death, and absense that strikes fear  in the heart of the disciples. Beaten by the waves of doubt, they are finally comforted when Christ awakens from the grave to put down the devil and strip him of the power of death.

Isn’t that just what fear  does to us, too? It makes us lose sight of what’s most important  in our lives. I mean, we say we trust (have faith) in God for our eternal salvation and, yet we don’t seem to be able to  trust Him in our simple everyday needs . My brothers and sisters in Christ, this ought not to be ! And I preach this to myself, as well as you my brothers and sisters!

If I believe that God created the earth and all that dwells in it. That He sent His only begotten Son  to die for and redeem mankind, then why do I act  as if His provisions for me and my family are beyond His control?

Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? Is this our cry today, as well? Can you imagine what the LORD GOD must think, when we utter such blasphemy? How it must break His heart to see His children  doubt these little things (at least, little things to Him…right?).

Again, we must maintain our perspective; which should be God centered . If we allow ourselves to become more concerned with our pleasure/comfort or even what we think  we need, then our faith/obedience will wane,  thus effecting our spiritual growth and weakening our faith . Isn’t that just what the storm  did here?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it so well:

IV. “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”
 

 

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Give us“: The trust of children who look to their Father for everything is beautiful. “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” He gives to all the living “their food in due season.” Jesus teaches us this petition, because it glorifies our Father by acknowledging how good he is, beyond all goodness.
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“Give us” also expresses the covenant. We are his and he is ours, for our sake. But this “us” also recognizes him as the Father of all men and we pray to him for them all, in solidarity with their needs and sufferings.
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Our bread“: The Father who gives us life cannot but give us the nourishment life requires—all appropriate goods and blessings, both material and spiritual. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus insists on the filial trust that cooperates with our Father’s providence. He is not inviting us to idleness, but wants to relieve us from nagging worry and preoccupation. Such is the filial surrender of the children of God:

To those who seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, he has promised to give all else besides. Since everything indeed belongs to God, he who possesses God wants for nothing, if he himself is not found wanting before God.

So this week, let us exercise our faith ! Strengthening it, so it grows and can withstand any and all  attacks, that come it’s way. And as it strengthens and becomes stronger, it won’t just be able to withstand attacks, it will be able to defeat and conquer  these attacks.

Please, feel free to share how you exercise your faith; to build it up and strengthen it. It will benefit us all.

Blessings to you all this week, through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Good Friday


Today we remember the beatings, the death and the burial of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thank you Father for your Son. Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice.Thank you Holy Spirit, for your leading us to yourself.

Amen.

Ten Challenges for the Pro-Life Movement


I received this in an e-mail earlier today.More information is at the bottom of the post:

As we gear up for next Tuesday’s March for Life in Washington DC, I (Rev. Thomas Euteneuer) offer this list of challenges to the pro-life movement in America. If we really wish to beat the abortion culture we have to mature as a movement. Thirty-five years of the same strategies and ideas have not gained us the victory we seek because the fight against the most pervasive spiritual evil that has ever entered the world can only be won on God’s terms. The pro-life movement has invested more in political and cultural change than in spiritual change. Let us not be afraid to fight Goliath’s weapons of mass destruction with the faith of David who came against the giant “in the name of the Lord of Hosts.” (1 Sam 17:45)

10. Recruit Hispanics and other minorities into the pro-life movement—while we march on Washington DC, the abortion industry is scheming more ways to get minority women into their killing centers and capitalize on their vulnerabilities as immigrants, legal or illegal. Every pro-life group needs to put Hispanic outreach on the agenda immediately so that their largely Catholic values and culture will not be paganized by the politics of death.

9. Reject politicians who believe in rape, incest, life-of-the-mother and fetal deformity “exceptions”—political candidates who believe that these “exceptions” are legitimate are really saying that it’s okay to kill some babies and save others. They are worse than false prophets; they are frauds who perpetuate the notion that we can adopt the values of the devil while still serving God. Vote pro-life, not pro-some-life.

8. Challenge the accepted notion that condoms and birth control reduce abortions—reverse that lie with the truth: namely, that birth control does not reduce abortions, it increases them. Why else would a society saturated by birth control still have 1.3 million abortions? Almost 60% of women who go into abortion clinics cite failed birth control as their reason for aborting. Remember that the same folks who sell abortion also sell birth control, and they’re making a killing.

7. Educate doctors that abortifacient birth control is chemical homicide—most physicians conveniently overlook the abortifacient nature of all chemical birth control methods. Doctors are complicit in the chemical deaths of millions of babies and need to be told that they will be held accountable before the Throne of God for every lethal prescription that bears their signatures. If you care about his or her soul, you will educate your doctor!

6. Boycott corporations and organizations that fund or promote abortion—the abortion industry lusts for public support of any kind. Businesses and organizations that fund the baby-killers need to be awakened, and rather sharply, by the pro-life conscience of our society. Companies that refuse to see abortion’s moral dimension must be made to feel—economically—that abortion is a really bad business decision. And don’t hide your light under a bushel basket: make a public witness, write a letter, stage a picket. Let others know that you dissent from the culture of death.

5. Go on the offensive against Planned Parenthood’s funding—abortion is not the only source of money for the Planned Parenthood baby-killers; they are awash with cash due to the profits from their “clinic business” (i.e., selling birth control and sterilizations) and senseless government funding for “family planning.” Pro-life groups not willing to cut off their funding stream for contraception will just continue to see the PP monster grow and will never effectively undermine the demand for abortion.

4. Embrace the embryonic stem cell and euthanasia issues with the same fervor as abortion—let’s not adopt the same logic as the pro-aborts who dismiss the pre-born child and the inconvenient handicapped person as “not viable” and look the other way when they are destroyed for profit, or worse, market them as material for extermination. Let’s recognize that our defense of life must remain rock solid through the entire life spectrum, no matter how small or vulnerable.

3. Remind the Christian churches—again—that abortion exists with their permission—history will judge the churches of Christ that were apathetic toward abortion more harshly than the churches of Germany during the 30s and 40s. Christians living in a free society aren’t being sent to gas chambers for speaking out, so we have no excuse. It has been said that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in the face of a moral crisis, do nothing. Christians must know that we will be held accountable if we are silent and indifferent to the plight of Christ’s least brethren.

2. Fast for the conversion of abortion promoters—“Some demons are not driven out except by prayer and fasting,” said the Lord (Mt 17:21). A regular habit of tangible sacrifices for those most immersed in the grip of the abortion demon will erode the power of this evil. The Lord just needs an army of souls who are willing to embrace this practice—then astonishing results will abound. Why not go back to fasting or abstaining from meat on Fridays for this cause?

1. Get down on our knees and ask the one true Savior to end abortion—the pro-life movement needs to humbly admit that abortion is such a massive evil and so deeply rooted in our social fabric that no human power can eliminate it. While we need to vote for pro-life politicians, they are not our saviors. Abortion needs to be driven out by the spiritual authority of Christ’s church like an unclean spirit. Once the pro-life movement begins to seriously fight abortion in its spiritual dimension, we will see some real pro-life victories in politics and society. We can’t say that prayer hasn’t worked until it’s actually been tried.

Spirit & Life®
“The words I spoke to you are spirit and life.” (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 03, Number 03 | Friday, January 18, 2008

www.hli.org

Men and Post-Abortion Trauma


As a man who has suffered through post abortion trauma (read chapter 24) I know it is real. Now the numbers are starting to show it as men start looking for healing.

Here’s an article from the California Catholic Daily. I would like to see what the other two men who were interviewed, said as well.

Father God, we pray Your mercy on the murdered children, and the healing and forgiveness of their parents who believed the lies of the culture. God have mercy. Christ have mercy. God have mercy.