Month: January 2015
Gospel Mk 1:21-28
“He taught them with authority”
An interesting thing that we’ve witnessed so far in our reflections on Mark’s Gospel is that, up until now, we’ve heard very little about the actual content of Jesus’ teaching.
What we’ve seen very directly is that Jesus was a man who had an inherent magnetism. There was something about his person that people gravitated towards. In today’s Gospel we read that he spoke not as one who gave a considered theological opinion like the scribes and other teachers, but as one who had authority.
While we might conjecture about the content of Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue at Campernaum, all that we are given in this reading is that it had a tremendous impact on all those who heard it.
The fact that these words go unreported is not to say that his words were unimportant for the evangelist – far from it – as we see in today’s Gospel, his words contain a power like nobody had ever seen. Indeed, with but a few words Jesus is able to deliver this unfortunate man who suffered demonic possession.
But in my reading, I think the evangelist here is trying to emphasise that Jesus was not into proclaiming a mere list of doctrine that his followers would simply need to ascent to. No, He was reaching out to them and offering something far more important: A relationship with a real person, one who is the incarnation of Love itself.
Point to Ponder
One cannot simply remain neutral to this person who makes such a bold claim.
What is my response to the person of Jesus?
Gospel Mk 1: 14-20
“Come! Follow Me!”
The reading for today recounts an event which occurs very early in Jesus’ public ministry. John the Baptist has just been arrested for speaking some rather unpalatable truths to the reigning King Herod. Yet John’s message of repentance is echoed by Jesus, though with a very positive addition, ‘Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand.’
Perhaps it was his courage amidst such dangerous circumstances or just his own personal charisma but whatever it was, the force of the man Jesus had an attraction.
The simple words, “Come! Follow me!” directed to these four men was enough to have them down tools and immediately follow after him. What on earth could prompt that kind of response?
Like last week’s reading from John’s Gospel, here we have an account of a real encounter between persons. One which dramatically changes lives and indeed alters our reality.
It is exactly this encounter which is the essence of Christianity – in the words of our beloved emeritus pope Benedict XVI ‘Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.’ (See Deus Caristas Est, 1)
These two sets of brothers did not make their decision to follow him lightly, but nor did they simply weigh up all the evidence empirically – they trusted their innermost desires and followed Him who alone can give their life meaning.
Points to Ponder
Have I even given time to reflecting upon what it is that I truly yearn for?
Am I open to following the inner-most desire of my heart?
Am I courageous enough to follow these desires all the way to their end? Even if it means leaving behind what is comfortable and familiar?
Gospel Jn 1:35-42
It was about the tenth hour…
It’s difficult to imagine a more human, a more earthy, a more mundane beginning to something that was to so profoundly alter the lives of these two men, let along the history of the world.
It was about the tenth hour (about 3pm by our reckoning, as the people of his day counted the hours from sunrise).
That was the time when they saw Jesus passing by and, immediately attracted to this bloke they followed after him. His reaction was not to stop and preach at them, and demand reverence. No.
Instead he asked them simply “What do you want?”a question that is addressed today to each of us. What is it that we want? What is it that we really want? What do we desire in the depths of our being?
When this was addressed to John and Andrew they had little to say – but it was obvious that they wanted to know more about this person who stood before them. “Where do you live?” they asked, to which the reply came simply, “come and see.”
Jesus’ invitation was to have such an impact on these men that years later, when he felt the need to write all these things down John remembered the specific time of the day when it occurred. ‘About the tenth hour’ was when his life was dramatically changed.
That invitation to come and see, which Christ directed to John and to Andrew is directed at each and every one of us as well. How will I respond?
Has there been a comparable moment of meeting in my own life? With another person? With God? With Jesus?
Do I remember it?
Did I tell other people about it?
How do I respond to these meetings which happen every day?
Gospel Mk 1:7-11
A God who comes down to meet us
This is the very beginning of Mark’s Gospel, who unlike both Luke and Matthew, leaves out the stories of the Nativity which we have spent the last few weeks meditating on.
Instead, Mark begins with the Baptism of Jesus by John in the River Jordan and this particular episode is just the first of a number of mysterious and confounding acts undertaken by Jesus over the course of His public ministry.
Why did Jesus seek to have himself baptised?
John’s baptism was a baptism of conversion and repentance, and yet we can be sure that Jesus was in no need of either of those things.
What we learn in this humble act of receiving baptism is that through Jesus, God comes down to meet me where I am. He has no aversion at all at the prospect of entering into the depths of our failings and mistakes, our selfishness and sinfulness.
Jesus’s baptism was, in essence, a prefiguring of the death he was to experience on the cross just three short years later – taking on the punishment due to all human sinfulness of all time.
We are called to emulate Jesus, not in the great miracles that he performed, but in his lowly acts of service and humility. In receiving this baptism he was accepting my guilt.
What can we learn from this?
Like John, I should prepare for the coming of the Lord in my life – to that end, what are those things that act as hindrances on the path? What are those crooked bits that need to be made straight?