Misguided

Scripture Reading                            
Jesus came with his disciples into the house.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, 
for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
(Mark 3:20-21)

 

Scripture Study

3:20 One of Mark’s signature techniques is to “sandwich” one story inside another so that each sheds light on the other. In this case, he arranges the three scenes in vv. 20–35 into one block of material. In the first and the third units Jesus is misunderstood by his own family; the second (vv. 22–30) involves a far more serious charge from the religious authorities.

After the appointment of the Twelve, Jesus comes home to the house of Peter and Andrew at Capernaum, which he had made his home base (1:29; 2:1). This time the press of people is so great that Jesus and his disciples find it impossible to care for their own needs, even to eat (as will happen again in 6:31; 8:1).

3:21 To understand the reaction of Jesus’ relatives, it is important to recognize what family bonds meant in the social context of the time. For the ancient Jews, as for many non-Western cultures today, an individual existed only as part of an extended family unit, whose authority structure, obligations, and customs governed every aspect of life. Any action by an individual was a reflection on the whole family, and any breach of family honor would usually meet with severe discipline. Since Jesus’ foster father Joseph was presumably no longer alive (see 3:31), Jesus’ uncles and senior cousins would have considered him under their charge and answerable to them for his conduct.

Hearing of all the commotion surrounding him, these relatives feel duty bound to set out, probably from his native village of Nazareth twenty miles away, to seize him—the same verb used later for his arrest (14:46). From their perspective, Jesus ought to be back home making tables and chairs instead of attracting throngs of sick and demon-possessed people, not to mention arousing the hostility of the religious leaders. Their action was probably motivated in part by a desire to protect him. For they said is better translated “for people were saying” (RSV), since the subject is left vague. Word was getting around that Jesus was out of his mind (or “beside himself,” RSV), meaning that his wonder-working activity seemed evidence of mental imbalance. Since mental illness was often associated with demonic influence (John 10:20), these suspicions could be seen as a lesser version of the charge leveled by the scribes in the next episode.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel, relatives of Jesus claim that he is mad, and scribes blaspheme him, charging that he is possessed by Beelzebul. You know, in cases like this, the basic problem is always the fearful ego. Ego-addicts know that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. If you want to protect the ego and its prerogatives, you must oppress and demoralize those around you.

There is a very unsubtle version of this method: you attack, put down, insult, undermine those around you. This is the method of the bully. But the religious version is much subtler and thus more insidious and dangerous. It takes the law itself—especially the moral law—and uses it to accuse and oppress. “I know what’s right and wrong; I know what the Church expects of us; and I know that you are not living up to it.”

And so I accuse you; I gossip about you; I remind you of your inadequacy. Mind you, this is not to condemn the legitimate exercise of fraternal correction or the office of preaching. But it’s to be sucked into the slavery of ego addiction. We must stay alert to this and avoid it at all costs.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

[1] Mary Healy, The Gospel of Mark, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 74–75.

Shine Your Light

Scripture Reading

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted 
and they came to him.
He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles,
that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach 
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter; 
James, son of Zebedee, 
and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, 
that is, sons of thunder;
Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew,
Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; 
Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean,
and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
(Mark 3:13-19)

 

Scripture Study

3:13 He went up the mountain: here and elsewhere the mountain is associated with solemn moments and acts in the mission and self-revelation of Jesus (Mk 6:46; 9:2–8; 13:3). Jesus acts with authority as he summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him.

3:14–15 He appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that they might be with him: literally “he made,” i.e., instituted them as apostles to extend his messianic mission through them (Mk 6:7–13).

3:16 Simon, whom he named Peter: Mark indicates that Simon’s name was changed on this occasion. Peter is first in all lists of the apostles (Mt 10:2; Lk 6:14; Acts 1:13; cf. 1 Cor 15:5–8).[1]

Scripture Reflection

The Twelve chosen by Jesus receive a specific vocation to be “people sent out”, which is what the word “apostles” means. Jesus chooses them for a mission to make disciples of the Lord (to teach) all nations, sanctifying and governing the believers.

The Great Commission is given to all disciples of Jesus Christ. It was originally given to Jesus’ first disciples. But, because it tells them to teach disciples to obey everything they were taught by Jesus, it is perpetual.

This is the Church’s mission; as such, it is our mission. ALL of us. And while we’re not all called to be missionaries in foreign lands, we are all called to do our part according to our state in life to give witness to the truths of our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith. We are supposed to bring the light of Christ into the world, to preach the saving mission of His Church from the housetops. So shine your light today!

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1]  Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 1406.

 

Healer and Miracle Worker

Scripture Reading

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.
A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing, 
a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, 
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, 
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, 
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases
were pressing upon him to touch him.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him 
and shout, “You are the Son of God.”
He warned them sternly not to make him known.
(Mark 3:7-12)

 

Scripture Study

3:7–8 This passage stands in sharp contrast to the previous, where the only recorded reaction to Jesus’ act of healing is the smoldering fury of his opponents. Here his popularity among ordinary people skyrockets. Mark stresses the fact that people are flocking to Jesus from every corner, not only from Jewish lands but from among the Gentiles as well.

Aware that violent plans are fermenting, Jesus withdraws toward the sea. The verb withdrew suggests a desire for seclusion in areas removed from human activity (as in 1:35; 3:13; 6:31–32). Perhaps Jesus sought some time for prayer or for privately instructing his disciples. But as usual, just the opposite occurs. His fame as a healer and exorcist has spread far beyond the bounds of his home region. Crowds come from Judea, the area south of Galilee and Samaria, including Jerusalem the capital city. Beyond these predominantly Jewish regions, Mark lists foreign areas in a geographic circle (see map, p. 348). People come from Idumea more than one hundred miles to the south (in present-day southern Israel and the West Bank), from the eastern regions beyond the Jordan River (in present-day Jordan and Syria), and from the area of Tyre and Sidon on the Mediterranean coast to the northwest (in present-day Lebanon). The reader of the Gospel begins to get the impression that the whole world is coming to Jesus.

3:9–10 The frailty of Jesus’ human nature stands out in ironic contrast to his mighty works. Although he cures the infirmities of others by a mere touch, his own body is at risk of being crushed by the crowds mobbing him. He tells his disciples to have a boat ready so that, if necessary, he can put out a bit from the shore and continue to minister to the sick without being trampled (see 4:1). The crowds seem to be less interested in Jesus himself than in what he can do for them. They come in their desperation, some having endured years of debilitating illness and perhaps having given up hope of health and vitality. From their native places far away they have heard rumors of the wonder worker from Nazareth who just might be able to provide the wholeness for which they long. He cured many (“many” signifies a large number and does not imply that some were left uncured; see Matt 8:16), so that the afflicted were pressing upon him (literally, “falling on him”) to touch him. Jesus does not reprimand them but simply allows the physical contact with himself that makes the sick well (Mark 5:27–31; 6:56).

3:11–12 Some of the afflictions involve possession by unclean spirits. Unlike either the religious authorities or the crowds, these supernatural beings have clear and certain knowledge of who Jesus is. He sternly forbids the demons to publicize their superhuman knowledge.[1]

Scripture Reflection

In today’s Gospel we read about crowds coming to Jesus for healing and deliverance from unclean spirits. We hear that people brought the sick from all over the region, as well as those troubled by unclean spirits—and all of them were cured.

Now I realize that we today might be a bit skeptical of such miraculous healings. But it’s hard to deny that Jesus was known as a healer and a miracle worker. And there is abundant evidence that the performance of miracles was a major reason why the first preachers were taken seriously.

Have there been miracle workers and miraculous places up and down the centuries? Yes indeed. But the Church has customarily done this work through its hospitals and clinics, through figures such as John of God, Catherine of Siena, and Teresa of Calcutta. But the Church also serves through its sacraments, which heal sin-sick souls. This is the apostolic dimension of the Church’s life, and without it, it would no longer be the Church. Parishes, parish priests, missionaries, servants of the poor and sick—the whole apostolic life of the Church is represented here.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

[1]  Mary Healy, The Gospel of Mark, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 70.

Restored to the Fullness of Life

Scripture Reading

Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up here before us.”
Then he said to the Pharisees,
“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

(Mark 3:1-6)

 

Scripture Study

3:1–5 Here Jesus is again depicted in conflict with his adversaries over the question of sabbath-day observance. His opponents were already ill disposed toward him because they regarded Jesus as a violator of the sabbath. Jesus’ question Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil? places the matter in the broader theological context outside the casuistry of the scribes. The answer is obvious. Jesus heals the man with the withered hand in the sight of all and reduces his opponents to silence; cf. Jn 5:17–18.

3:6 In reporting the plot of the Pharisees and Herodians to put Jesus to death after this series of conflicts in Galilee, Mark uses a pattern that recurs in his account of later controversies in Jerusalem (Mk 11:17–18; 12:13–17). The help of the Herodians, supporters of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, is needed to take action against Jesus. Both series of conflicts point to their gravity and to the impending passion of Jesus.[1]

Scripture Reflection

This incident raises the question: Why did Jesus deliberately heal on the sabbath, knowing that it would provoke such furious antagonism? Note that in all four Gospels, every one of the healings initiated by Jesus takes place on the sabbath.7 On other days, the sick themselves or their relatives or friends approach Jesus to seek healing, but only on the sabbath does Jesus takes the initiative. Why does Jesus apparently prefer to heal on the sabbath?

The declaration given in 2:28 and illustrated in 3:1–6 provides the answer. The Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath, and he exercises his lordship by undoing the effects of sin and inaugurating the new creation by which humanity is restored to the fullness of life that God intended from the beginning. Jesus thereby fulfills the original purpose of the sabbath: to bring humanity into communion with God. This is what we experience in the celebration of the Eucharist – intimate communion with the Lord.

– Mary Healy

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1]  Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 1405-1406.

 

Lord of the Sabbath

Scripture Reading

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath,
his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain.
At this the Pharisees said to him,
“Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?”
He said to them,
“Have you never read what David did
when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry?
How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest
and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat,
and shared it with his companions?”
Then he said to them,
“The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”
(Mark 2:23-28)

Scripture Study

2:23–28 This conflict regarding the sabbath follows the same pattern as in Mk 2:18–22.

2:25–26 Have you never read what David did?: Jesus defends the action of his disciples on the basis of 1 Sm 21:2–7 in which an exception is made to the regulation of Lv 24:9 because of the extreme hunger of David and his men. According to 1 Samuel, the priest who gave the bread to David was Ahimelech, father of Abiathar.

2:27 The sabbath was made for man: a reaffirmation of the divine intent of the sabbath to benefit Israel as contrasted with the restrictive Pharisaic tradition added to the law.

2:28 The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath: Mark’s comment on the theological meaning of the incident is to benefit his Christian readers.[1]

Scripture Reflection

In today’s Gospel Jesus calls us to recognize him as Lord. Acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus means that your life has to change. For many this is liberating good news. But for others, it is a tremendous threat. If Jesus is Lord, my ego can’t be Lord. My religion can’t be Lord. My country, my convictions, and my culture cannot be Lord.

The resurrection is the clearest indication of the Lordship of Jesus. This is why the message of the resurrection is attacked, belittled, or explained away. The author of Acts speaks of “violent abuse” hurled at Paul. I have a small taste of this on my YouTube forums. We all should expect it, especially when our proclamation is bold.

This reveals a great mystery: we are called to announce the good news to everyone, but not everyone will listen. Once we’ve done our work, we should move on and not obsess about those who won’t listen. Why do some respond and some don’t? We don’t know, but that’s ultimately up to God.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

[1]  Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 1405.

 

The Bridegroom

Scripture Reading

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.
People came to Jesus 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.”
(Mark 2:18-22)

 

Scripture Study

2:19 the bridegroom: Jesus uses marital imagery to reveal his divinity. ● His words recall several OT passages that depict Yahweh as a groom wedded to Israel (Is 54:5; Jer 3:20; Hos 2:20). The NT transfers this covenant relationship to Christ as the divine spouse of the Church (Mt 25:1–13; Eph 5:25; CCC 796). they cannot fast: Since fasting symbolizes mourning and separation, it was inappropriate while Jesus was present among the disciples.

2:21–22 Because the Old Covenant has become like an old garment and old wineskins, the New Covenant can neither be stitched to its worn fibers nor poured into its brittle skins. Rather, the fasting and anticipation of the Old Covenant must give way to the feasting and celebration of the New Covenant that Jesus brings into the world.[1]

Scripture Reflection

In today’s Gospel people ask Jesus why he doesn’t encourage fasting among his followers. Jesus’ answer is wonderful: “How can the guests at a wedding fast while the groom is still with them?” (That’s a typically Jewish style, by the way, answering a question with another question.)

This great image of the wedding feast comes up frequently in the New Testament, most obviously in the wedding feast at Cana narrative. And it is echoed in the Tradition. Jesus is the wedding of heaven and earth, the marriage of divinity and humanity; he is the bridegroom and the Church is the bride. In him, the most intimate union is achieved between God and the world.

Could you imagine people fasting at a wedding banquet? Could you imagine going into an elegant room with your fellow guests and being served bread and water? It would be ridiculous! So says Jesus: “As long as the groom is with them, how could they fast?” The mark of the Christian dispensation is joy. Exuberance. Delight. God and the world have come together. What could be better news?

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1]  Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 70.

Lord, I Come to Do Your Will

Scripture Reading

I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.

Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
(Psalm 40:2,4,7-8,8-9,10)

Scripture Study

A thanksgiving (Ps 40:2–13) has been combined with a lament (Ps 40:14–17) that appears also in Ps 70. The psalmist describes the rescue in spatial terms—being raised up from the swampy underworld to firm earth where one can praise God (Ps 40:2–4). All who trust God will experience like protection (Ps 40:5–6)! The Psalm stipulates the precise mode of thanksgiving: not animal sacrifice but open and enthusiastic proclamation of the salvation just experienced (Ps 40:7–11). A prayer for protection concludes (Ps 40:12–17).[1]

Scripture Reflection

The psalmist, who knows that the conformation of his mind and desire to the will and revelation of God takes the place of sacrifice, is a type for Jesus, whose obedience unto death replaced all cultic sacrifice and accomplished once for all the perfect sacrifice. The psalmist with his praise and piety still must pray for salvation from suffering and sin. That is where we all are. But our prayers are made in hope, because the sacrifice for sin has been made for us once for all.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

[1]  Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 756.

 

The Word Is Alive!

Scripture Reading

The word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
No creature is concealed from him,
but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must render an account.

Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, 
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin.
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
(Hebrews 4:12-16)

 

Scripture Study

4:12 the word of God: Penetrates into the hidden recesses of the heart. If God finds the heart hard and unbelieving (3:8, 10, 12, 15), his word becomes a weapon that destroys. If he finds it full of faith, his word becomes a pledge and help toward salvation (2:3; 4:2). living and active: Emphasizes that God’s word is the instrument of his will, i.e., he always does what he declares (Gen 1:3; Is 55:11). sword: A sword with both sides of the blade sharpened can maim and kill, but the divine word is more lethal still, for it can bring eternal death and destruction (10:26–31). ● The sword imagery seems to be drawn because Israel feared it would “fall by the sword” if the people followed the Lord into Canaan (Num 14:3), the word of God descended upon them as an oath of disinheritance and death (Num 14:20–34). Unable to reverse this tragedy, Moses had to warn the people not to advance into Canaan lest they “fall by the sword” (Num 14:43). Note that the oath Yahweh swears at the end of the Exodus period compares his word to a sharpened “sword” that cuts down his enemies (Deut 32:40–41; Ezek 21:8–17). soul and spirit: The spiritual elements of man. These are not hidden from God any more than the interior components of his body, such as his joints and marrow.

passed through the heavens: Christ ascended into the most intimate presence of God in heaven (9:24). Jewish tradition sometimes speaks of multiple levels of heaven.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Since God is the living God (3:12), and His Word cannot be separated from Him, that Word is a living Word. It can never be exterminated. As Isaiah 40:8 proclaims, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” God uses His Word to renew and revive us. David wrote, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul” (Psalm 19:7).

It only makes sense that if the living God, has spoken to us in His written Word, then we should seek it like a treasure and devour it as a hungry man devours a meal. Being the word of God, it is both a word from God and a word about God. It is our only source of knowing specific truth about God.

As the living Word, God’s revelation also speaks to our current needs and situation. Even though the Bible was written many centuries ago, the Spirit of God still speaks directly to us through it. It is never out of date or irrelevant. It speaks to the very issues that we face in our modern world. I would encourage you to read the Bible. You will find, as I have, that God will often use what you have read either that day or within a few days of reading it.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1]  The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 421.

 

Powerful Faith

Scripture Reading

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
“Child, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
“Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what 
they were thinking to themselves, 
so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”
–he said to the paralytic,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”
He rose, picked up his mat at once, 
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

(Mark 2:1-12)

Scripture Study

2:5 their faith: i.e., the faith of the four men who carried the paralytic (2:4). ● The forgiveness that Jesus confers upon the helpless paralytic in response to the faith of others (the four men) mirrors the effects of Infant Baptism, where he continues to regenerate helpless children through the intercessory faith of their parents (CCC 1250–53).

2:6 the scribes: Scholars of the Mosaic Law and its traditional interpretation. With the exception of one episode (12:28–34), they are cast as Jesus’ adversaries in Mark.

2:7 It is blasphemy!: The scribes are incensed that Jesus claims for himself a prerogative that belongs only to God: the power to remit sins (Ps 103:3; Is 43:25; CCC 1441). They have misjudged the matter as blasphemy, which was a capital crime in ancient Israel (Lev 24:16). Note that Jesus manifests his divinity both by absolving the man’s sins and by exposing the unspoken disapproval of his critics (2:8).

2:9 Which is easier: Forgiveness is easier to claim than to accomplish, since its effects cannot be verified by observation. For this reason, Jesus restores the man’s body as a visible demonstration of what he has already done invisibly in his soul.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today’s Gospel focuses on the faith of the four men who brought the paralytic to Jesus for healing. How often the Bible compels us to meditate on the meaning of faith! We might say that the Scriptures rest upon faith, remain inspired at every turn by the spirit of faith.

Faith is an attitude of trust in the presence of God. Faith is openness to what God will reveal, do, and invite. It should be obvious that in dealing with the infinite, all-powerful person who is God, we are never in control.

One of the most fundamental statements of faith is this: your life is not about you. You’re not in control. This is not your project. Rather, you are part of God’s great design. To believe this in your bones and to act accordingly is to have faith. When we operate out of this transformed vision, amazing things can happen, for we have surrendered to “a power already at work in us that can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” Even a tiny bit of faith makes an extraordinary difference.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

[1]  Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 68.

If You Wish

Scripture Reading

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him, 
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
(Mark 1:40-45)

 

Scripture Study

1:40 a leper: Leprosy was a skin disease that made victims unclean, i.e., unfit to participate in the liturgical life of Israel (Lev 13:1–8). Because ritual uncleanness was considered contagious under the Old Covenant—infecting everyone who came in contact with it—lepers were isolated from society to keep those who were clean separated from those who were unclean (Lev 13:45–46). Jesus reaches across this divide when he touches the leper, and though others would be defiled by such contact, he conquers the uncleanness by the greater power of his holiness (1:41; CCC 1503–5).

1:44 say nothing to any one: The “messianic secret” is a leading theme in Mark. Jesus frequently enjoins silence on demons (1:25, 34; 3:12) and men (5:43; 7:36; 8:30; 9:9) to conceal his identity as the Messiah (CCC 439). Several considerations account for this strategy. (1) Jesus wanted to avoid a sensationalist reputation of being no more than a wonder-worker. Publicizing his deeds by word of mouth comes with the danger that rumors will begin to disconnect his miracles from his saving message. (2) He wanted to sidestep popular expectations that the Messiah would be a political and military leader. (3) He did not wish to ignite the wrath of his enemies before the appointed time of his Passion. See introduction: Themes. show yourself: The Mosaic Law required Levitical priests to inspect lepers and determine their status as clean or unclean (Lev 14:1–32). With approval, an individual pronounced clean would offer sacrifices at the Temple to be reinstated in the worshiping community of Israel.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel for today has to do with Jesus’ healing of a leper. Leprosy frightened people in ancient times—as contagious and mysterious diseases frightened people up until modern times. But more than this, it rendered someone unclean and therefore incapable of engaging in the act of worship. It is not accidental that the person who should do the examining of the patient in ancient Israel should be the priest.

The man who knelt before Jesus and begged for a cure was not simply concerned about his medical condition; he was an Israelite in exile from the temple—and hence he was a very apt symbol of the general condition of scattered, exiled, wandering Israel. In curing him, Jesus was, symbolically speaking, gathering the tribes and bringing them back to the worship of the true God.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

[1]  Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 67.