He Gave Them Authority: Mark 6: 6-13


He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching. He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick–no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Being limited in His hometown to do any mighty deeds, by the peoples lack of faith, Jesus moves on to the villages in the vicinity teaching. By doing this He is preparing the Twelve for their first steps of formation  as representatives of Jesus Christ; roles they will have to fill after Jesus returns to the Father.

This is also our first glimpse into what will be foundational for the priesthood of the early Church. Also, for the first time in His ministry, He gives the Twelve authority over unclean spirits and to cure many who were sick.

Along with this authority, Jesus sends them out to preach repentance. As a continuation of last weeks reflection, about how a lack of faith limits God’s activity in our lives (and even our communities) – without repentance , we close the door altogether to His activity in our lives.

In the context of this passage, repentance brings about deliverance from unclean spirits and allows the sick to be cured. We read, and last year studied, this aspect of repentance and healing, in St. James letter chapter 5 in verse 16 we read, Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. In this passage we see that repentance (the confessing of sin) and prayer (which is done in faith) are the only things we are told that bring about healing. Also within the context, this is done under the authority of the priesthood, Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up, for they were given this authority by Christ Himself, and passed on through Apostolic succession.

These passages should remind us all of God’s willingness to give His children His authority. Not just in the formal setting of the Mass, but in our everyday lives as well.

Are we not filled with the Holy Spirit? Are we not reminded in St. John’s first letter that, …for the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world?

Do we accept  that authority? Do we allow ourselves to live victorious lives ? Or do we reject  the authority of the Holy Spirit and the authority of God’s written word?

This week, let us challenge ourselves to believe what we’ve been told by God . Through repentance and faith we have, not just the ability, but the authority  over unclean spirits and sickness in our lives.

Now, let’s go out there and live in His authority !!

Amen.

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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:

2224
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.
2225
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.
2226
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.

The New From The Old: Mark 2:18-22


The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to him and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. 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. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”

This seems to be a continuation of the goings on at Levi’s dinner party. Maybe the fact that these people see Jesus and His disciples eating and drinking on this particular day (for we know according to the Didache 2.8 that the “hypocrites” fasted on Monday and Thursday) that they bring this question to Jesus. And, once again, Jesus gives a fascinating answer (as He always did).

Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? or as we would look at it now; “My disciples cannot fast while the Messiah is with them, can they?

By using the matrimonial imagery, Jesus is reiterating what had been taught (and maybe set aside) in ancient Israel; that Israel was called God’s wife ( Isa. 54:5, 62:4-5).

  • For he who has become your husband is your Maker; his name is the LORD of hosts; Your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, called God of all the earth.
  • No more shall men call you “Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate,” But you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.” For the LORD delights in you, and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.

With the arrival of Immanuel (God with us) the messianic time is ushered in.

Jesus then continues: As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.

Does this present itself as a contradiction? After all, Jesus states later, And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age; He says this right before ascending to the Father. So….Is it a contradiction? For us with faith it isn’t, but even with faith, it can still be confusing.

We can over spiritualize what Jesus said and make this contradiction disappear. Don’t get me wrong, He is certainly with us in a spiritual sense, but is that the extent of it? After all, He created us physical beings as well as spiritual beings. Did He leave us any tangible evidence of His presence? The answer to this question is a resounding YES!

You may now be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with studying this section of scripture?” Could this be part of the new cloth and the old cloth? The new wine and the old wineskins? Let us examine!

The only presence of God at the time of Christ, was in the Temple (the Holy of Holies to be exact). This would be the old cloth, the old wineskin, established by God long ago. But now, we see God Himself, becoming man and leaving the Temple, to make His dwelling among us, with His people. This was something the old cloth or the old wineskins couldn’t patch-up or contain.

Jesus take the idea of a “far off” God and presents a “personal” God. This too, was something that the old cloth and the old wineskins couldn’t patch-up or contain. So, “What is this tangible evidence,” you ask?

First He left His Church, His Kingdom on Earth, to continue His work (Matt. 25:31-46, 28:18-20). Secondly, He left the seven (7) Sacraments of the Church (Baptisim, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony). The word Sacrament is defined as ” a visible sign of God’s invisible presence.”

Through His Church, we are reminded in a tangible way, to continue in Christ’s mission; did He only come to meet the spiritual needs of the people? No. He met their physical needs as well. So as important as it is to share our faith in Christ, it is equally important to show our love for Christ, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me (Matt. 25:40).

Through the Sacraments, we are tangibly reminded and strengthened as we continue our faith journey and our work for the Lord. The most precious of the Sacraments is the Holy Eucharist, “the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324). In the most intimate way, Jesus is not only with us spiritually, but tangibly, as a humble servant, in the form of bread and wine. Who else could do this? Who else would do this?

What was that noise?

Did I just hear your cloth tear? Did your wineskin just burst?

This week, let us not be like the Pharisees, who couldn’t accept the “new” because of the “old.” Rather, let us understand more fully, what Jesus Himself left for us through His Father.

From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings. Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: “Abide in me, and I in you. . . . I am the vine, you are the branches.” And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”     CCC 787

When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit. As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: “By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation.”    CCC 788

As Christ Jesus is the sacrament of God, the Church is our sacrament of Christ.

Amen.

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.

Holy Thursday


Happy Holy Thursday to you! I hope you have plans to go to a worship service tonight.

Tonight is the night we remember:

1) The last supper.

2) Jesus washes the disciples feet.

3) His agony in Gethsemane.

4) His arrest.

5) His trial.

If you can’t make a service tonight, read your favorite Gospel account, or all the Gospel accounts of Holy Thursday, and remember, give thanks to Him who gave His all for you.

A New Forum


Check out an exciting new forum here.

Thanks Amber!

Suffering And Salvation:I Peter 3:15-22


Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that He might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, He was brought to life in the Spirit. In it He also went to preach to the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him. 

Peter begins this this section by reminding us to always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, something we can only do in a growing and thriving relationship with God. Yet we must be gentle and reverent sharing our explanation. There are certainly times when we must teach the commands of God to live a moral and upright life, but is that the reasonfor our hope? So many times we hear the bashing and degrading of groups of people and particular sins, have you ever wondered, “Where is the love. Where is the gentleness and reverence? Is this the way to put to shame those who malign us? Or does it give them the excuse they need  to discount the truth of Jesus Christ and the salvation He brings?

It all starts with loving and respecting allpeople. I am no better than you, and you are no better than I. We are both however, significant I we must respect each other – even if we have different values and ideas. My love and respect for those with these differences, may very well be the actions that lead others to Christ and His Church. For just as Christ suffered for sins once that He might lead you to God, our good conduct shall do the same for others.

Peter then gives us some insight as to what Jesus did and why in between His death and resurrection; He went to preach to the spirits in prison as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states in paragraphs 632 through 635:

The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection. This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.

Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell”—Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek—because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”: “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.” Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.

“The gospel was preached even to the dead.” The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.

Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” Jesus, “the Author of life,” by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.” Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades,” so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

His power over death reveals His power to save us through water. You may ask, “Are you saying that baptism brings us salvation?” Well, yes I am. Yet not I, but the scripture. At the same time, it isn’t baptism alone (we have another instance of a both/and thing happening here). The flood waters prefigured baptism through which Noah’s family was saved. If the flood waters prefigure baptism then naturally the ark prefigures Christ. As Noah and his family passed through the water in the ark, so are those who pass through baptism into Christ.

Our appeal [which can also be translated pledge] to God through baptism, is to live before the Lord with a clear conscience, and a sign [pledge] from God to us, of forgiveness and a cleansed conscience. All this power, we are taught is through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This resurrection is the validation of the sacrifice and thus He is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him. Yet with all this power, He still gives us the freedom to choose.

So this week let us choose to:

  • be ready to explain our hope
  • be gentle and reverent when explaining
  • keep a clear conscience
  • maintain good conduct
  • reflect on our Baptismal promises
  • let Jesus have the power over our lives

Amen.