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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“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.

A Man Reborn: Mark 5:11-20


Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside. And they pleaded with him, “Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.” And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned. The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside. And people came out to see what had happened. As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind. And they were seized with fear. Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine. Then they began to beg him to leave their district. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. But he would not permit him but told him instead, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.

If you recall last week, Jesus had just cast out the unclean spirits from the man from tombs.

This week, we continue the story; and it starts off, with Jesus granting the request of Legion, “Send us into the swine. Let us enter them” so that they could remain in that territory. We see that Jesus gets blamed for destroying the swine, yet it was Legion who destroyed the swine, the livelihood of the Gentile farmers in that area. This should be a reminder of what Jesus told the Pharisees in St. John’s gospel, chapter ten verse ten, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” Evil is what brings destruction. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, brings life – abundant life.

But moving along, we now see the man from the tombs, delivered; he has become a man reborn. Ressurrected as it were. This is what I was alluding to last week as we looked at the man from the tombs in his distress. Like this man, we too are brought from death to life  through the power of Jesus Christ! Like this man, Jesus Himself was raised from death, by the power of God, to complete and to validate  what His death had accomplished – our redemption!

These are all great points to ponder and to meditate on. And I pray we will throughout this week. But, I would like for us to realize our own call within this passage: the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. But he would not permit him but told him instead, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.

As some of you may know, last fall, I had applied to the office of the Permanate Diaconate. What you may not know is… I was denied. I was found to have an impediment that made me ineligible to receive Holy Orders. So, I’m having to re-examine my call within the call . My point is, is that not all of us are called to greatness  at least, the standard of greatness as we measure. I realize my first priority is evangelizing my family. To grow more deeply in love with my wife, that we might reflect the Trinitarian love, and Christ’s love for His Church, as we are called to do within the realm of Holy Matrimony. Then, we together, are to lead our children to the understanding of who God is, and what He through Jesus has done for us, as Deuteronomy 6: 4-7 says:

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone! Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest.

Just as the man reborn , was told by Jesus, to return to his family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you, maybe we too, need to hear this from the Savior.

It wasn’t easy for me to hear. I wanted to serve Jesus, as well as others, as a Deacon. But, at least at this time, it’s not to be.

So this week, let us focus on serving God, in our families . Husbands, wives, and children – we all need to experience the love of God within the walls of our homes.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

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The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.
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Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the “first heralds” for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church. A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one’s life.
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Education in the faithby the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.

Easter Sunday


But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. I Corinthians 15:20

What a day! Resurrection Day!

May our love for the Triune God, be resurrected in our hearts this day.

May all glory, honor and praise be His.

Amen.