January 23rd, 2023

The Gospel according to Mark (3:22-30) 

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.  Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Reflection: This reminds me of a speech given by Lou Holtz, Head Football Coach at the University of Notre Dame (1986-1996). Now the following isn’t his exact words, and I am interpreting from the notes that I took and how his words nourished me. 

Coach Holtz is talking about Life and how simple it could be, and you only need to follow three rules.

Life doesn’t have to be complicated but we make things complex. Now, you don’t have to sacrifice your personal, religious, or professional life to live because it’s not complicated if you keep it simple. 

See you need 5 things in your life to feel fulfilled and accomplished:

  1. You need something to do
  2. You need someone and something to Love
  3. You need to feel wanted
  4. Someone or something to believe in such as JESUS
  5. You need something to hope for because Hopes, Dreams, and ambition is what drives us.

In Life, we are either growing or we are dying. Trees, flowers, marriage, business, and people of faith grow if we have these 5 things that are stated above. We need that hope, we need something to do because we love it, and we need something to dream for because we believe in it. It doesn’t matter what your age is and no matter what physical abilities you have or not. 

Here’s The Plan to Maintain A Simple and Uncomplicated Life

Rule #1: Do What’s Right And Avoid What’s Wrong. If ever in doubt … pull out the Bible. There’s never the right time to do the wrong thing. There’s never the wrong time to do the right thing. Just be honest with yourself and others. 

Have a Positive attitude. Enjoy life and just have fun. Yes, you’re going to have problems and difficulties …that’s called LIFE. Just because you’re successful doesn’t mean you’re not going to have problems. It’s wrong to be bitter. Being bitter would lead you to no friends to be your Paul-bearers therefore your family would have to hire them. 

Rule #2: Do Everything To The Best Of Your Ability. Not everyone can be an all-American, or successful, or rich, or good looking. If you choose to fail, then that’s your decision and your right. But, you do not have the right to cause others to fail. The choices that you make are yours and yours only so don’t blame anyone else. If you get married, have a child, join a business, join a team, join a church then you have a commitment, obligations, responsibilities, and you owe it to the people that you do the absolute MAXIMUM. It’s that simple. In this country you can amount to something great. Commitment to Excellence is choice that you make.

Rule #3: Show People That You Care. Ask someone how you could help them. What do they need? When you do the right thing then people learn to trust you. My wife and I been married for 36 years because we trust each other, and we will never lose it. People will trust you if you do the right thing! That’s all God is asking of us to do. Do everything to the best of your ability. People can sense that you’re committed. Help others and care for them. What’s the prime commandment? Love God and Your Neighbor!

If you forget anything I just said, then remember this …. 

  1. TRUST
  2. COMMITMENT
  3. LOVE

Action of the Day: Today is the “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children”. What can you (we) do to lend a hand in winning this fight? Please take the time to say a prayer.

Audio Reflection:

January 20th, 2023

The Holy Gospel according to Mark (3:13-19)

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.

Reflection:  In today’s Gospel from Mark, we hear Jesus calling the 12 apostles.  This is actually the 2nd time Jesus called some of the apostles.  In Mark chapter 1 Jesus calls his first apostles, calling Simon, Andrew, and John.  After calling them to follow him, he told them he would make them “fishers of men.”  In today’s Gospel, Jesus called the 12 that he wanted to follow him, up the mountain.  This mountain top experience was a reminder to them of Moses and the 12 tribes of Israel.  In calling the 12 apostles, Jesus gives three of the apostle’s new names.  Simon, is now named Peter, James, and his brother John, are called “sons of thunder.”  Their renaming indicates their transformation of faith.  We know that in the Scriptures, Peter, James, and John accompanied and were present at key moments in Jesus’ ministry.  Jesus gave the 12 apostles a mission, specifically to preach and drive out demons.  Just as the apostles were called by Jesus and given a mission, we are also called and given a mission.  We also received new names either at our baptism or our confirmation.  Hopefully this renaming indicated a transformation of our faith.  By virtue of our baptism and confirmation, we are given the grace we need to be apostles, to preach with our words and deeds, to drive away our sinful demons that try to keep us from fulfilling our mission.  Our mission is to be fishers of men and women and bring them to Christ.  In Jesus’ time, many resisted or ignored his call to discipleship.  The same is true today.  Jesus is still just a curiosity for many.  But Jesus can be so much more for us.  He can be a daily presence in our lives, healing us and lifting us when we are down.  Jesus can fill our hearts with joy and give us a purpose.  Jesus can become our Lord and Savior.  We are to be like Jesus, compassionate, merciful, forgiving, and loving others as Christ loves them.  Today is also the optional memorial for St. Sebastian, who was a captain in the Roman army.  He was also a Christian, probably fulfilling his mission of living as a Christian.  For this, he was martyred by the emperor Diocletian.  

Action of the day:  Today, may we pray for the grace to be disciples of Christ, to be like Christ to others, and to bring others to Christ.  

Audio Reflection:

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January 19th, 2023

The Gospel according to Mark (3:7-12)

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.

Reflection: We probably all have images of famous people being mobbed by fans. I am old enough to have vivid memories of the Beatles trying to get to their car, usually a limousine, being crushed by huge mobs of adoring fans. I remember a quote from John Lennon where he says that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. We don’t have time to unravel the controversy that ensued, but it is interesting because his comment was an observation that at that moment in time the Beatles had more influence on their followers than Jesus.

In today’s gospel Jesus was anticipating being mobbed in the same way. This happens in Mark’s gospel after many occurrences where he heals and drives out demons. Of course, we know that Jesus wasn’t just about miracles. He also preached the good news that the long-awaited kingdom was at hand. Being that this was early in his ministry he had much to do to spread this message and prepare his followers for his passion, death, resurrection, and ascension. He knew as news of him spread events like the one he was anticipating would continue to occur possibly slowing down his mission. Although his fame was causing many to seek him, he was more interested in the influence of his father’s will. He wanted to fan a flame that would continue long after he left.

Although we may still enjoy the Beatles’ music their influence has diminished for various reasons. The biggest one is they are no longer together. Jesus on the other has managed, with the help of a small group of followers, in a time where they had none of our modern methods of communication to influence millions, billions of lives. He was in the beginning, came among us, died, rose, and is seated at the right hand of God for all of eternity. In light of this, John Lennon’s comment seems so irrelevant and inconsequential. The influence of Jesus Christ will continue for as long as this world exists. Nothing in life nor death itself can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus! Amen!! 

Action of the Day: What do we allow to influence our minds and hearts? There are many distractions that lead us away from God and into sin. In this ordinary time before the Lenten season contemplate what separates us from the love of God. Pray for clarity and humility so that the obstacles to grace may be revealed and for God to help us overcome our weaknesses. Remember, stronger is he who is in us than he who is in the world.

Audio Reflection:

January 18th, 2023

The Gospel According to Mark 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched him 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 them, “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, he 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.

Reflection: How many times do we hear the word ‘angry or anger’ from the mouth of Jesus? Not many! Maybe 5 or 6 times throughout the Gospels. How about God, our Father? In the Hebrew scriptures we hear it as God’s anger and wrath repeatedly against his people for their disobedience. Is this anger or more like a disappointment for their actions, lack of actions, or more likely that the Israelites just didn’t ‘get it’. How about us? Deep down inside in each of us, we know the difference between right and wrong. Have you ever heard that tiny little voice inside your head that says to you, “Don’t do that or stop, this is not the best thing to do.” Some would call that voice your conscious, others would call that the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit tries to guide us on the ‘right’ path or direction that leads us to a greater joy and love, and not just for others but for ourselves and for our salvation. When it starts with us, this love inside of us, spills over into others. 

In this Gospel passage, Mark uses the example of the man with the withered hand as His definition of what happens when someone has lost his vitality with life. He has lost the moisture in his feelings and has become incapable of love or any positive action. Jesus only tells him to ‘stretch out your hand’ and immediately he feels God’s healing power and love simply from Jesus’ words. 

Action of the Day: Are we always the best version of ourselves? Probably not, I know that I’m not. But I have been able, through prayer and God’s guidance, to be more aware of those times when l am not, so that I can correct my mental position to be kinder and more thoughtful to those I encounter. What is your inner voice telling you? Are you listening? 

Audio Reflection:

January 17th, 2023

The Gospel according to Mark (2:23-28) 

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.”

Reflection:

Today’s Gospel story continues the beginning of the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees.  Mark wastes no time in building up this conflict in which you have, on the one hand, the hypercritical Pharisees, enforcing the letter of the Law, without considering the love of God meant by the Law, and on the other, we have Jesus, who is bringing a new way, one focused on the love of God, but not on the legalistic way of the Pharisees.

Now, we who follow the Catholic faith know that there are a lot of rules in our practice.  Coming up in a little more than a month, we enter the season of Lent, that season of repentance and renewal, and yes, a season of some particular rules.  Now, if I scrupulously follow the directives around fasting and abstaining, but am still the same cranky, unkind, and unloving person I was before, then I am like one of the Pharisees.  In God’s eyes, it’s not a scorecard where He is keeping track of how many days we prayed, or how many times we were seen as good, devout Catholics.  No.  If there’s a scorecard, it is to catch us doing good, and sharing His love and peace with everyone.

That’s why we follow the “Son of Man” who is “lord” of the Sabbath, and everyday of our lives.  May we walk through these days of Ordinary Time not to follow the rules and guidelines of our faith to avoid punishment, or to satisfy some obligation, but to do those actions as examples of the love that God has placed in our hearts.  Let us shine the light, and know that God will bless all the good we do, and let us do our best to do as He does and see the good in others.. always.

Action for the Day:

Today, pay particular attention for someone doing something kind and loving to another, and if you can, tell that person that you saw it and were blessed by it!

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