Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reflection for Jan 16th, 2103 – Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Then the fever left her and she waited on them. This line has always intrigued me. There is something special about this healing done by Jesus. (Healings which, among other things, always speak metaphorically of our healing from sin) It has a different feel than so many others. Later in this same Gospel passage the people are coming from all over the town, jammed around the door for Jesus to heal them.  In other miracles of healing the one who is eventually healed calls out dramatically to Jesus or Jesus is pulled somewhere specifically to heal another. Now, I don’t make this distinction between Simon’s mother-in-law and, for example, the man with the unclean spirit in yesterday’s Gospel, to decry those other healings. Jesus always welcomes the repentant sinner and is joyful for their return. I just wish to make a distinction that the story of Simon’s mother-in-law is an important way among many of encountering the Lord.
            Simon’s mother-in-law was sick, just as we are all sinners, but the manner of her healing was so subtle that we might miss its point. She didn’t come loudly crying out to Jesus. In fact, I get the impression that Simon didn’t even know she was sick until they got there. Here’s what I think she did that we should pay attention to: She kept herself and the house in order so that she was prepared to receive and serve Christ when he came. All she did was ready her house so that when the Lord entered all was in order to receive him. She was able to serve immediately upon being healed.
            What does this mean for us? I think it means that while there will be times that we’ll need to call out dramatically to Jesus most of our life of faith is spent simply keeping our spiritual homes in order so that when He calls on us we are ready to be healed and to serve him all the more. Let us be like Simon's mother-in-law, ready to receive the Lord and be healed by him when he comes to us.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reflection for January 9th, 2013 – Wednesday after Epiphany

If God so loved us, we also must love one another. What a fantastically difficult thing this is for us to do! If God so loved us, you know, the God who became incarnate so that he could die in our place…If He loved us so much then we surely must love one another! But what a high bar he set for us! How are we supposed to even come close to loving like God does??

The next verse answers: He has given us his Spirit! We have the gift of God’s spirit within us! Then it is not our own love, particularly, that we exercise, but rather God’s love within us! This is how the saints are able to love so profoundly, they are loving out of God’s bounty not their own. (and by the way, I have very intentional spoken about the saints in the present sense “they are able to love/are loving” because saints are not just those dead and gone. Though they may never be canonized there are many living now who are worthy of the title)

So, if we remain in God and allow his love to remain in us, we have no reason to fear. If I am loving like God and you are loving like God, what concern do either of us have?

Now, this is not to say that bad things will not happen. God doesn’t promise us that. It is not that God’s love in us prevents bad things from happening – and this is the important part - rather it prevents things that do happen from being bad. If we have God’s support, his love in us, there is nothing so bad that cannot be overcome!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Because [We are] like Sheep Without a Shepherd.

In today's Gospel (Mark 6:34-44) Jesus comes ashore in the boat and sees a great crowd "and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd."

Jesus must look on us with that same compassion now, except that his heart is even more moved because we differ from the people in the Gospel in two important respects. Those in the Gospel a) had access to a shepherd for the first time and b) were actively seeking after him. Modern society, in its quest for independence, has explicitly denied it's need for the shepherd it had and has denied his call. This did not make us our own shepherds like we hoped, it made us lost sheep.

We are perpetually looking for the next great thing to be a part of, the greatest pleasure that will surely make us happy, the next responsibility to avoid; we're always looking to try the craziest thing and be on the cutting edge hoping that we will find fulfillment...but it never works. When the thrill is gone, when the pleasure fades, when trends shift we are left as unfulfilled as we were before, if not even less so.


The earth is full of the goodness of Christ,
He feeds his lambs and guards his sheep,
He walks abroad as the Shepherd of souls,
And gathers all into his keep.

We know the voice of our Pastor, the Lord,
He calls our names eternally,
Our hearts rejoice at the words that he speaks:
"And I know mine and mine know me."

When danger comes all the hirelings will flee,
But Christ remains to guard our sleep,
When evil comes the Good Shepherd of souls
Lays down his life to save his sheep.

We shall not want, for our Pastor is Christ
He makes us lie in fields of grace,
Where, shorn of sin and refreshed by his love,
We gaze in prayer upon his face.
The Earth is Full of the Goodness of Christ - Michael Gannon
ref to Ps 23

Let us return to Christ, the Good Shepherd, who calls us by name and he will give us the true rest, the true fulfillment that we seek. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Reflection for January 2nd, 2013 – Feast of Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus

I have been asked to give reflections** at the parish daily mass on Wednesdays. Below is the reflection I gave for today.

There is one among you whom you do not recognize. In today's Gospel* the authorities in Jerusalem have sent representatives, priests and Levites, out to John the Baptist to see what he is doing and they ask John quite directly if he is the Christ, the one Israel was expecting for their salvation. His message was certainly dramatic enough to catch attention as a possible messiah but in his great humility he was quick to assure them that he was not, that he was merely a messenger sent to “Make straight the way of the Lord.” I’m sure this was somewhat disappointing to them, a situation probably compounded when he added that there is one among them who they do not recognize. In the very next passage, and tomorrow’s Gospel reading, John gives his famous proclamation: Behold, the Lamb of God! This is who they do not yet recognize.

Back in the first reading*, John the Evangelist is speaking also about Christ not being recognized but now the situation is different from that in the Gospel. John was writing to a community to shore up the people in Truth, against various heretical ideas that were being preached. The priests and Levites in the Gospel might be forgiven for not recognizing Christ in their midst because he had not yet begun his ministry but the audience to which John the Evangelist is writing his letter has no excuse. They had heard the Gospel first hand and had all reason to know the Truth. He is boldly calling them back to what they know calling them away from false teachers.

A thousand years after John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, today’s Saints, Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus were fighting the same fight, against preachers that were giving the people wrong information about the nature of Christ. It was really messy, way messier than any of the problems we have in the Church today. When the emperor is a heretic backing heretical bishops with military force, you’ve got problems, but these two men held strong to what they knew was the true orthodox teaching. They endured many trials for the sake of the Good News about Christ, that he is True God and True man. We should courageously do likewise. It is unlikely that we will ever have the forces of the world against us, personally, like today’s saints did, but following their example and that of John the Baptist and John the Evangelist we ought to boldly proclaim and share our faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. There is One among us, let us not be afraid to recognize him.

* - Click here for today's mass readings
** - a reflection is not the same as a homily.