Humanity in Communion with God

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

3:2 They watched Jesus closely Probably refers to the Pharisees (v. 6). so that they might accuse him Profaning the Sabbath was a capital offense (Exod 31:14–15; 35:2; Num 15:32–36).

3:4 to save life rather than to destroy it Jesus’ question about the Sabbath is provocative and was intended to question common viewpoints. Elsewhere Jesus teaches that love of neighbor not only fulfills the law but is central to the kingdom of God (12:29–34). Here, Jesus tangibly demonstrates that human traditions and moral codes should not conflict with love of neighbor.

3:5 hardness of heart This biblical idiom, often rendered as “hardness of heart,” indicates both stubbornness and opposition to God’s workings (Mark 2:6–8).

3:6 Pharisees One of the three Jewish schools of thought in Palestine at the time of Jesus according to the Jewish historian Josephus. While the extent of their influence is unclear, the Pharisees apparently had some influence in political, religious and social spheres in Jewish Palestine. The Pharisees were known for their skill at interpreting the Law of Moses, and they held strict views on what was appropriate behavior for a righteous person. In Mark, Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for holding to traditions rather than obeying God’s commands. the Herodians A political party who generally supported Herod Antipas’ regime.

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. 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 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.

– Mary Healy

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

 

Lord of the Sabbath

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

2:25–26 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; although Mk 2:8–9 are addressed to the scribes, the sudden interruption of thought and structure in Mk 2:10 seems not addressed to them nor to the paralytic. Moreover, the early public use of the designation “Son of Man” to unbelieving scribes is most unlikely. The most probable explanation is that Mark’s insertion of Mk 2:10 is a commentary addressed to Christians for whom he recalls this miracle and who already accept in faith that Jesus is Messiah and Son of God.

Scripture Reflection

In these passages, Christ teaches God’s purpose in instituting the sabbath: God established it for man’s good, to help him rest and devote himself to divine worship in joy and peace. The Pharisees, through their interpretation of the Law, had turned this day into a source of anguish and scruple due to all the various prescriptions and prohibitions they introduced.

By proclaiming himself “lord of the sabbath”, Jesus affirms his divinity and his universal authority. Because he is lord he has the power to establish other laws, as Yahweh had in the Old Testament.

The Sabbath had been established not only for man’s rest but also to allow him to give glory to God: that is the correct meaning of the expression “the sabbath was made for man.” Jesus has every right to say he is lord of the sabbath, because he is God. Christ restores to the weekly day of rest its full, religious meaning: it is not just a matter of fulfilling a number of legal precepts or of concern for physical well-being: the Sabbath belongs to God; it is one way, suited to human nature, of rendering glory and honor to the Almighty. The Church, from the time of the apostles onwards, transferred the observance of this precept to the following day, Sunday—the Lord’s day—in celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

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

 

New From The Old

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

2:18 Pharisees Luke 18:11–12 indicates that fasting was a characteristic of the Pharisees’ piety. People came to Jesus and objected In both Jewish and Graeco-Roman culture, a teacher was held responsible for the behavior of his students (compare Mark 2:23–24). Previously, the Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples to explain Jesus’ behavior (v. 16); now they ask Jesus to explain His disciples’ behavior.

2:19 fast Mourning or penitential activity would be inappropriate at a joyous occasion such as a wedding.

2:20 is taken away from them Jesus’ remark foreshadows His own future—His betrayal, arrest, and execution.

2:21 the new from the old Jesus emphasizes the change brought about by the kingdom’s arrival. While the previous analogy (vv. 19–20) contrasted present and future, this verse distinguishes between old and new.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, 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.

 

Behold, the Lamb of God

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.
(John 1:35-42)

Scripture Study

1:36 John the Baptist’s testimony makes his disciples’ following of Jesus plausible.

1:37 The two disciples: Andrew (Jn 1:40) and, traditionally, John, son of Zebedee. A disciple, called “another disciple” or “the other disciple,” is mentioned in Jn 18:15 and Jn 20:2; in the latter reference he is identified with the disciple whom Jesus loved. There is also an unnamed disciple in Jn 1:35–40.

1:39 Four in the afternoon: literally, the tenth hour, from sunrise, in the Roman calculation of time. Some suggest that the next day, beginning at sunset, was the sabbath; they would have stayed with Jesus to avoid travel on it.

1:41 Messiah: the Hebrew word māśiâh, “anointed one” appears in Greek as the transliterated messias only here and in Jn 4:25. Elsewhere the Greek translation christos is used.

1:42 Simon, the son of John: in Mt 16:17, Simon is called Bariona, “son of Jonah,” a different tradition for the name of Simon’s father. Cephas: in Aramaic = the Rock; cf. Mt 16:18. Neither the Greek equivalent Petros nor, with one isolated exception, Cephas is attested as a personal name before Christian times.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in our Gospel for today, we hear John the Baptist proclaim, in response to meeting Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God!”

One of the earliest heresies that the Christian church fought was Marcionism, the conviction that Jesus should be interpreted in abstraction from the Old Testament. But the categories that the Gospel writers used to present Jesus as the Christ were, almost exclusively, drawn from the Hebrew Scriptures.

In John’s prologue, the passage before today’s reading, we read that the Word of God’s covenantal love, which was addressed to Abraham, Moses, and David, has become flesh in Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is the covenant in person. But throughout Israel’s history, the covenant between God and humanity is always accompanied by sacrifice.

That brings us to today’s reading, where John the Baptist offers one of the most important interpretive keys of the New Testament: Jesus will play the role of the sacrificial lambs offered in the temple, and through a sacrifice, take away the sins of the world.

One reason that people today have such a difficult time appreciating Jesus is that we have become, effectively, Marcionites. To really understand the Christological language of John, we need to understand the great story of Israel.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

 

Pray For Them

Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus heard this and said to them,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
(Mark 2:13-17)

Scripture Study

2:13 He taught them: The account of a single day’s ministry of Jesus on a sabbath in and outside the synagogue of Capernaum (Mk 1:21–31) combines teaching and miracles of exorcism and healing. Mention is not made of the content of the teaching but of the effect of astonishment and alarm on the people. Jesus’ teaching with authority, making an absolute claim on the hearer, was in the best tradition of the ancient prophets, not of the scribes. The narrative continues with events that evening. The cleansing in Mk 1:40–45 stands as an isolated story.

2:14 As he passed by: The meaning of discipleship is a major theme of the Gospel. Right at the beginning of his mission, therefore, Jesus calls disciples to follow him and to share in his own ministry of fishing for people. This rapid-fire story condenses the early church’s theology of discipleship: (a) discipleship is a gift; all of the initiative comes from Jesus, not from the disciples themselves; (b) the essence of discipleship is following Jesus, an allegiance that takes precedence over every other value; (c) the disciple is privileged to share in the mission of Jesus, here expressed in terms of “fishing” for people. In the Bible (see, for example, Jer 16:16; Hb 1:14f), that image of fishing is used to describe the gathering of people for the final day of judgment. Jesus’ own ministry has similar strong tones. Customs post: such tax collectors paid a fixed sum for the right to collect customs duties within their districts. Since whatever they could collect above this amount constituted their profit, the abuse of extortion was widespread among them. Hence, Jewish customs officials were regarded as sinners (Mk 2:16), outcasts of society, and disgraced along with their families. He got up and followed him: i.e., became a disciple of Jesus.

2:15 In his house: cf. Mk 2:1; Mt 9:10. Lk 5:29 clearly calls it Levi’s house.

2:17 Do not need a physician: this maxim of Jesus with its implied irony was uttered to silence his adversaries who objected that he ate with tax collectors and sinners (Mk 2:16). Because the scribes and Pharisees were self-righteous, they were not capable of responding to Jesus’ call to repentance and faith in the gospel.

Scripture Reflection

Our Lord’s words should move us to pray humbly and confidently for people who seem to want to continue living in sin. As St Teresa beseeched God: “Ah, how hard a thing am I asking of thee, my true God! I ask thee to love one who loves thee not, to open to one who has not called upon thee, to give health to one who prefers to be sick and who even goes about in search of sickness. Thou sayest, my Lord, that thou comest to seek sinners; these, Lord, are the true sinners. Look not upon our blindness, my God, but upon all the blood that was shed for us by thy Son. Let thy mercy shine out amid such tremendous wickedness. Behold, Lord, we are the works of thy hands.”

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

 

Faith’s Great Design

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

2:1 He was at home: to the crowds that gathered in and outside the house Jesus preached the word, i.e., the gospel concerning the nearness of the kingdom and the necessity of repentance and faith (Mk 1:14).

2:5 It was the faith of the paralytic and those who carried him that moved Jesus to heal the sick man. Accounts of other miracles of Jesus reveal more and more his emphasis on faith as the requisite for exercising his healing powers (Mk 5:34; 9:23–24; 10:52).

2:6 Scribes: trained in oral interpretation of the written law; in Mark’s gospel, adversaries of Jesus, with one exception (Mk 12:28, 34).

2:7 He is blaspheming: an accusation made here and repeated during the trial of Jesus (Mk 14:60–64).

2:10 But that you may know that the Son of Man … on earth: although Mk 2:8–9 are addressed to the scribes, the sudden interruption of thought and structure in Mk 2:10 seems not addressed to them nor to the paralytic. Moreover, the early public use of the designation “Son of Man” to unbelieving scribes is most unlikely. The most probable explanation is that Mark’s insertion of Mk 2:10 is a commentary addressed to Christians for whom he recalls this miracle and who already accept in faith that Jesus is Messiah and Son of God.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, 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 and 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.

The “Cleaner”

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 The Greek word used here, lepros, identifies a person afflicted by a skin disease. Leviticus categorizes such individuals as ritually unclean and prohibits them from coming in contact with other Israelites during their illness (Lev 13:1–46). If you wish, you can make me clean Jesus already demonstrated His ability to eliminate uncleanness when He expelled the demonic spirit at Capernaum (Mark 1:21–28). Now, a man with a different type of impurity seeks cleansing, and Jesus’ success confirms that God’s rule overcomes all obstacles to health and holiness.

1:41 moved with pity In a few ancient manuscripts, the Greek word splanchnizō, which refers to being moved with pity, replaces the term orgizō, which indicates anger. However, the substitution likely reflects a later change by a copyist, to avoid the difficulty of this verse. Jesus affirms His desire to cleanse the man, indicating He is not upset by the leper’s plea. touched him Jesus’ physical contact with the leper, followed by His immediate cleansing of him, emphasizes that Jesus’ spirit of holiness is more powerful than the uncleanness generated by the skin disease (compare Lev 13–14). Rather than Jesus becoming unclean, He makes the leper clean.

1:44 tell no one anything The first of many such requests that Jesus will make so people do not reveal His identity as the Messiah before the time intended by God (see Mark 5:43; 8:30; 9:9). Most of these requests achieve the opposite effect: Instead of staying silent, the people broadcast what He has done for them (7:36), forcing Him to go elsewhere to minister. what Moses prescribed Refers to a sequence of two sacrificial offerings God mandated to mark a diseased individual’s healing and reintegration into the community (Lev 14:1–32). Jesus has already cleansed the man. Now, the priest must directly examine him to certify that the source of uncleanness has indeed gone.

1:45 impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly Probably due to Jesus’ increasing popularity, not opposition.

Scripture Reflection

Although leprosy has been virtually wiped out in developed nations, the loneliness and social stigma attending various physical or interior afflictions—for instance, AIDS or mental illness—is as widespread as ever. Indeed, leprosy is only an outward sign of the inner uncleanness experienced by all fallen human beings. The defilement of sin often causes a deep inner shame, even when a person is not consciously aware of it, that makes a person hesitant to turn to God.

But as this man’s boldness in approaching Jesus was richly rewarded, so is the prayer of all those who approach him with confidence in his cleansing power, especially through the sacrament of reconciliation. Jesus is not dismayed, scandalized, or contaminated by any human defilement. He willingly removes it by the power of his own holiness, restoring our communion with others and making us fully qualified to enter into God’s presence.

– Mary Healy

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

The Healer

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.
(Mark 1:29-39)

Scripture Study

1:30 immediately The Greek word used here, euthys, occurs more than 40 times in Mark, giving Mark’s Gospel an unrelenting pace.

1:31 helped her up The Greek term used here, egeirō, is used frequently throughout Mark to describe Jesus’ healings (e.g., a paralytic in 2:9, 11–12; a dead girl in 5:41; an epileptic in 9:27). Mark uses the same verb to describe the resurrection of the dead (6:14, 16; 12:26; 14:28; 16:6). This overlap connects Jesus’ resurrection with His ministry; His divine power and purpose enable both.

1:32 When it was evening Indicates the close of the Sabbath day, after which the prohibition against work ended (v. 21). The townspeople, who observed the law, waited until this moment to bring the sick and demon-possessed people to Jesus (compare 3:1–6).

1:34 not permitting them to speak Jesus continues to veil His true identity. Jesus’ true identity so challenged the religious leaders of the time that it led to His execution. Mark’s Gospel notes that Jesus is aware that the unveiling of His true identity, as God’s Son and the Messiah, will lead to His death (2:20; 8:31).

1:35–39 Having completed His work in Capernaum, Jesus expands His ministry to the whole of Galilee, but before doing so, He spends time alone in prayer. Instead of embracing the potential fame He could have in Capernaum (v. 38), Jesus moves on so that He may minister in other places.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in the Gospel of Mark today, we see Jesus in action. We are reading from the section of Mark’s first chapter that gives us a sort of “day in the life” of Jesus. And it is quite a day! Our Gospel opens just after the dramatic expulsion of a demon in the Capernaum synagogue. After entering the house of Simon, Jesus cures Peter’s mother-in-law.

Notice that he takes her by the hand and brings her to her feet so that she can be of service. What does sickness do to us? It draws us in around ourselves. Once she is cured, Simon’s mother-in-law commences to serve, to be for the other. Then the entire town comes to his door. He spends the whole evening curing presumably hundreds who were variously afflicted.

Mark presents Jesus as a healer, soter, which just means “the bearer of the salus” or health. In him, divinity and humanity have come together; in him, the divine life and divine power are breaking through. God’s deepest intentions appear—what God plans for us in the kingdom to come is now historically anticipated.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

One Having Authority

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers,
and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
(Mark 1:21-28)

Scripture Study

1:21 Capernaum A village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Sabbath The traditional day of rest for the Jewish people as prescribed by the law (Exod 20:8–11; Deut 5:12–15). synagogue Usually refers to a building where a local community assembled. The synagogue was not a distinctively religious institution, as nonreligious activities also took place there.

1:22 scribes Refers to experts in the law of Moses. They served a religious function alongside the priests and Pharisees.

1:23 an unclean spirit The term used here links the idea of malevolent supernatural forces to the Jewish concern for purity and holiness. cried out Refers to the man with the unclean spirit. His next words, however, indicate that the unclean spirit is actually speaking through him, since a plural (“us”) is used.

1:24 I know who you are So far in Mark’s Gospel, only Jesus seems to know His true identity (Mark 1:11). Mark emphasizes the demons’ recognition of Jesus as the one God has set apart for a purpose. This highlights both human ignorance of who Jesus is and how fearful evil powers were of Him.

1:25 Quiet With this command, Jesus simultaneously neutralizes the spirit’s attempt to oppose Him and prevents His identity as the Messiah from becoming public knowledge.

1:27 they obey him Exorcists were common in the ancient Near East. For example, among the Dead Sea Scrolls (circa 250 bc–ad 50), a text containing an incantation formula designed to exorcise demons was discovered. Jesus distinguishes Himself from other exorcists in that He did not rely on complex incantations. He could simply command the demons and they would leave their hosts.

Scripture Reflection

The story of Jesus’ first exorcism portrays the forces of evil in a way that may appear to readers today as strikingly personal. For Mark, as for the whole New Testament, evil is not an impersonal force but is concentrated in invisible, malevolent beings who are bent on destroying human beings and hindering God’s plan of salvation. These evil spirits are responsible for various mental and even physical maladies. The Church has always taught that demons, are real spiritual beings, fallen angels who were created by God but became evil by their own free choice.

Anyone tempted to dismiss accounts of demons as fables does not have to look far to see evidence of their influence today. Such phenomena as “racial cleansing,” group suicides, and the sexual abuse of children show a more than merely human malice at work, seeking to destroy the image of God in man.

But as frightening and real as is the power of demons, the authority of Christ is infinitely superior. Through his cross and resurrection, Christ definitively conquered the powers of hell. For the present time, however, their malicious actions are permitted by God, who is able to work good out of every evil. The grace of baptism affords us protection from demons and the strength to resist their seductive influence.

– Mary Healy

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

The Baptism of the Lord

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
(Mark 1:7-11)

Scripture Study

1:7 One mightier than I John understands himself to be the forerunner of the Messiah (compare Mark 1:2–3). I am not worthy Removing and carrying sandals was the work of slaves. John is stating that he is not worthy even to be a slave of the Messiah (the anointed one of God).

1:8 baptized you with water John’s baptism was in preparation for the Messiah, through whom God would pour out His Spirit on the people of Israel (Joel 2:28; Isa 32:15; 44:3; Ezek 36:26; compare Isa 42:1). John anticipates that Jesus’ appearance would directly precede the arrival of God’s Spirit (compare Acts 2:1–13).

1:9 from Nazareth A small town in Galilee. Jesus seems to have spent the majority of His childhood and youth years, and perhaps His early adulthood, in Nazareth (Matt 2:23; Luke 4:16). He does not begin His adult ministry until around age 30 (Luke 3:23). Galilee The northernmost region of Palestine. After the death of Herod the Great in 4 bc, his son, Antipas, administered Galilee (along with Perea, where John was baptizing).

1:10 the heavens being torn open Evokes the language of Isa 64:1–2. Isaiah 64 is about the awesome arrival of God’s presence and the need for sinful people to be saved; the passage has in view both the Jewish people and the nations (the entire world). In the culmination of Isa 64, Jesus’ baptism marks the arrival of God’s presence (compare Mark 1:15). Spirit This connects Jesus to Isa 42:1, where God states that He will put His Spirit on His Servant. It portrays Jesus as the anointed Servant in Isaiah who is commissioned by God to establish justice on the earth (Isa 42:1, 4).

1:11 You are my beloved Son Drawn from Psa 2:7. Psalm 2 speaks about the role of the anointed one of Yahweh (the Messiah) and how the kings of the earth should fear Yahweh and His Son, for all nations will ultimately be His heritage (Psa 2:7, 11–12; compare Isa 52:15; 53:12).

Scripture Reflection

John’s prophecy that Jesus would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit” is fulfilled in the life of every new Christian through the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. Just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. Most Christians receive this unspeakable gift at a very young age; thus to experience its full effects we need to appropriate the gift of the Spirit personally through faith, ongoing conversion, and growth in the knowledge of God.

The phrase “baptism in the Spirit” has also become familiar to millions of English-speaking Christians through the charismatic renewal, which adapted the biblical term to express the life-changing encounter with Christ and outpouring of the power of the Holy Spirit that many experience. “Baptism in the Spirit” in this sense is not a sacrament but a coming alive of the graces received in sacramental baptism. Although the grace of Pentecost is manifested in different ways in every age, it is fundamentally the same grace of which John spoke and which Jesus poured out on the Church after his passion and resurrection.

– Mary Healy

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