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We are glad that you found us, the DEACON-5! Here, we will be posting daily Gospel reflections, Mondays through Fridays, each day written by a different permanent deacon in our group. We pray that you find inspiration and a touch of God’s love for sharing some time with us. Please feel free to leave a comment or a prayer request for us!

Blessings to you all!
Deacon Ray Gallego, Deacon Steve Hillmann, Deacon Paul Machuca, Deacon George Mora and Deacon Chuck McDaniels

February 6th, 2023

The Gospel according to Mark (6:53-56)

After making the crossing to the other side of the sea, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.

Reflection: Is there some sickness or issue that you want Jesus to heal you of? Can you put yourself among the many in this scene who need healing? This sickness or issue could be physical, spiritual, or mental. No matter where we are in our lives, we often find ourselves needing some type of healing. Is there something we are carrying that may not be obvious to anyone else? Perhaps we can recognize our need for prayer in this situation and furthermore to walk with God in this difficult journey.

I probably mentioned this before but this past September I went on a Marian Pilgrimage. One of the locations that we visited was Lourdes, France. Of course, just like everyone else, us pilgrims went with our own list of healing for ourselves as well as a list of healing for our family and friends. Additionally, you go to a sacred place like this in search for some sign or authentication. You search for that cloak that you can touch to spare you from your troubles. So, in anticipation, you attend everything that you can handle. You go to the night processions, you go to mass, you pray, you meditate, and you go to the “Healing Bath”, you engage with the people from all over the world and much more. In contemplation, you wonder who are healed? Who are the lucky ones? Are they sitting next to you? It makes you wonder and then you are happy for them. At some point, while sitting on the grounds of this sacred place, I realized that the VIP’s are not the rich or famous but the physically handicapped, the people with life-threatening illnesses, the mentally ill, and the elderly. This is a place where they are put in front of the line (literally). This is a place where they are the famous and they are treated accordingly with volunteers pushing them around in wheelchairs and rolling cots. This is a place where there is no separation or no margins of social groups. You could just feel the peace in the air. I am not referring to silence or serenity, but I am referring to the peace where everyone present has common objectives and beliefs. We are all joined together as one group, one family in unity with each other and Jesus Christ. People with different beliefs, different cultures, from different parts of the world, with one common principle … God and His Word. This discipleship brings us into both friendship and partnership.

These people came to Lourdes by the thousands. Just like this Gospel today. They came to Jesus in large numbers because they wanted something from him, a cure for themselves or their sick. We come to prayer often with our needs. We can come to prayer also to know what we might do for Jesus, or what he might do through us. We are grateful for both these callings, knowing that every time we meet the Lord, we are healed and strengthened.

Sick people can recognize goodness and sincerity when they see it. Maybe that’s why they went in crowds to Jesus, as well as hoping for a cure. Something of the divine went out from him, something that can lift us to hope and courage in bad times. In prayer we bring that ‘sick’ side and weak side of ourselves to God, knowing it is never untouched by our prayer. And that’s what we ALL were doing there at Lourdes. We were praying for those family and friends that needed to be lifted up to Christ. We were carrying the cross of our brethren.

Action of the Day: Lent is just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about the sacrifice(s) that you will commit to. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to give something up, you can give something too. I don’t mean monetarily either.

Audio Reflection:

February 3rd, 2023

The Holy Gospel according to Mark (6:14-29)

            King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; That is why mighty powers are at work in him.”  Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.”  But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.”
            
Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.  John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”  Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.  Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody.  When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.
            
Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.  His own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.  The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”  He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.”
            
She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?”  Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”  The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
            
The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her.  So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head.  He went off and beheaded him in the prison.  He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.  The girl in turn gave it to her mother.  When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection:  Today’s Gospel reading can tend to make us uncomfortable, as it recalls the gruesome death of John the Baptist.  There is also a stark contrast between John the Baptist and King Herod.  John the Baptist was convinced of his mission to prepare the way for the Messiah with a call to repentance. Herod was conflicted and feared his commitment to self-preservation.  John the Baptist’s death reminds us that John is imprisoned and eventually killed for speaking the truth when he tells Herod about his adulterous marriage.  Herod was reluctant to kill John and distressed at the request to do so.  The Gospel tells us that Herod thought John was a righteous and holy man, and that he liked to hear him speak.  Herod eventually succumbs to political and family pressure and has John beheaded.  How can we relate this Gospel to us today?  Do we stand for the truth to the teachings of our Church, our faith, and our Lord, Jesus Christ?  Or do we succumb to the pressures of the secular world that says some things are legal, but not moral?  Do we stand convinced and convicted of the truth, or do we succumb to fear of “losing face” or offending someone or something?  Evil enters this world through the willing choice of some, and it is empowered by the ambivalence of others.  When faced with the terrible choices of an imperfect world, we have assurance of the certainty of God’s love.  Today is also the optional memorial for St. Blaise, bishop and martyr.  St. Blaise was one of the early martyrs known as the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of saints invoked against various diseases.  St. Blaise is reputed to have been a doctor who healed a boy choking on a fish bone; accordingly he is invoked against illnesses of the throat.  During my youth, I remember my mother taking my sister and me to church every February 3 to have our throats blessed.    

Action for the day:  We all know that there are things “the secular world” says are legal and OK to do, as long as we do not hurt anybody or it is between consenting adults, but are immoral and sinful.  When faced with such a choice, may we pray for the grace to stand for the Truth and resist the temptation to fall.  And, go get your throats blessed today! 

Audio Reflection:

Photo by Daniel Torobekov on Pexels.com

February 2nd, 2023

The Gospel according to Luke (2:22-40)

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Reflection: Imagine watching a movie or binging an entire season of a show you have wanted to see. You get to the part where the hero is revealed and his mission to save the victims of the story is made clear. You would expect to see how the hero does it, usually in some spectacular fashion. But instead, the story slows down considerably and you have to wait to see what happens.

In Luke’s first two chapters we follow the story of Jesus from his annunciation to his birth and now his presentation in the temple. The long awaited messiah who had been prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures has entered His creation and is now among us. Rather than focus on the events and proclamations in the temple I invite us to look at the last two verses in today’s gospel. Basically, they say the Holy Family went home to live their lives and Jesus grew up. Of course we know he was no ordinary child, he was the son of God. So then why did he need to advance in wisdom and favor before God. Because he was fully human. He became like us in all ways except sin.

In the next verse Jesus is now twelve. What happened in the years in between. Again, what this gospel tells us is that he, “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and the favor of God was upon him.” This large gap leaves a lot to the imagination. I could picture many scenes, in my mind, where Jesus as a toddler exhibits some sign of his divinity. As a young boy, maybe he heals animals or preforms other miracles that go unnoticed and continues to become who God intended him to be. Think about your own childhood and consider how you grew in strength and wisdom. Each one of us has a mission. Each one of us was given the opportunity to grow in a unique way so that one day we might be ready to fulfill our mission, to bloom where we are planted. What will we do with the gift of the rest of our lives? Continue to grow, serve, sacrifice, and love so that the favor of God may come upon us as well.

Action of the Day: In prayer or contemplation use your imagination to picture Jesus as a young boy. What was he like? Did he play with other children? What was his smile like? What did his laugh sound like? Imagine him growing up and figuring things out with the guidance of Mary and Joseph. Enjoy this time with the saviour of the world in the humility of his humanity.

Audio Reflection:

February 1st, 2023

The Gospel According to Mark 6:1-6

He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.  When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.  Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So, he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching.

Reflection: It was when our two boys were in High School, that we started seeing a huge difference in the way they treated, not only us their parents, but in the way they began treating each other. One might say that they began to see ‘how far’ they could push someone to gage what they could get away with and/or not get away with. As parents we always would use this method or approach. We asked them if they were out in public and were acting foolish or rude… How would they feel if their sweet, dear, and generous grandmother was standing near enough to hear or see what they were saying or doing? Shocked and ashamed is what I remember them both saying. 

How do think all these critics of Jesus felt after they found out that Jesus was the Messiah that all of the prophets had been telling them about, for the past 500 years? Instead of watching and learning with an open and loving mind, they jumped to the conclusion that he was a fraud and a simple carpenter, not capable of anything else, “He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Perhaps even shocked and ashamed. Are we sometimes shocked and ashamed, of ourselves, when we too have this lack of faith? When we sin? God knows, we can’t fool Him. But God is a loving and forgiving God, all we have to do is admit our errors in judgement, change our ways, and ask for His forgiveness. Sounds Simple, doesn’t it.

Action of the Day: When is the last time you went to reconciliation? Do you go on a regular basis? It works better if you don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself. Find someone that you feel comfortable with and have simple conversations. It will make a huge difference in the way you feel about yourself and to those around you. 

Audio Reflection:

January 31st, 2023

The Gospel according to Mark (5:21-43) 

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat
to the other side, 
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
“My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live.”
He went off with him
and a large crowd followed him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?”
But his disciples said to him,
“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, Who touched me?”
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” 
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
“Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.”
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child’s father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” 
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.

Reflection:

The story from today’s Gospel account is beautifully told in the online series “The Chosen” in season 3, episode 5.  You can find the clips online on YouTube (or you can watch the entire episode via The Chosen app or online).  I watched both scenes mentioned today just as I was writing this reflection. 

Mark, as I’ve observed previously, is a writer of Jesus in action.  It’s the most common theme in his Gospel.  Today, we have two stories that cross over with each other.  Jesus is asked by Jairus to heal his daughter, and while Jesus is on the way there, they encounter the woman with the hemorrhages who is also seeking healing.  The woman is healed and praised for her faith, but the daughter of Jairus dies before Jesus can reach her.  It’s not the end, though, as Jesus reassures Jairus, and ultimately brings his daughter to life again.

So much to unpack!  The bottom line for both stories is faith.  Jairus risked his reputation to rely on Jesus, but he trusted that Jesus was able to help his daughter.  He stuck by that faith, even when told that his daughter had died.  The woman with the hemorrhages trusted, even though she had been disappointed in her search for a cure.  Both received the results they believed in, and we see that the onlookers are “astounded”.  Clearly, their faith was not at the same level as Jairus and the woman’s!

The lesson here is clear: we are called as followers of Jesus to have faith.  We are called to trust in the God we worship that His plan for our lives is the right one, even if it isn’t clear to our human intellect or feelings.  That’s the hardest kind of faith, when it seems to be in vain.  Faith in Jesus is never in vain.  It is the only faith that ultimately brings us to life.   We just have to be willing to go beyond ourselves, and lay everything – our very lives – down at the feet of Jesus.  Trust.  Just trust!

Action for the Day:

If you or someone you know has a need that seems impossible, take time today and offer it to the Lord in prayer.  Trust that God can do things that we mere human beings can’t do.  Have faith, and trust that it will be done for you.

If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below!