Through Shadows and Images...

A Blog by Tom Gourlay

Month: February 2015

22 February 2015 – 1st Sunday of Lent

Gospel Mk 1:12-15

“Repent, and believe the Good News.”
As we begin our Lenten journey the Church reminds us of this episode immediately after Jesus’ baptism by John. Jesus was driven out into the desert and Mark, master of pith that he is, seemingly has very little to say about it.
He went out, stayed there for 40 days, was tempted by Satan, was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.
We do not hear about the gruelling nature of his 40 day venture into the wilderness, which no doubt would have been incredibly difficult physically. Nor do we hear of the nature of the temptations which he suffered.
We do know however, that upon returning to from his 40 days in the wilderness, Jesus was incredibly bold in taking up from where John the Baptist had left off in preaching repentance.
Like Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, this 40 day period of lent is a tough one for those of us who choose to enter into it. We are often tried physically and spiritually, just as Jesus was.
For us, as for Jesus, this time of trial which paradoxically has the potential to really bolster our resolve, give us a fresh perspective and to strengthen our own capacity for self-mastery.
More than this though, it is an opportunity for us to think of ourselves less and grow in our relationship with the God, creator of all.

This is the good news that he invited us to believe in.

Point to Ponder
Jesus came to proclaim the ‘Good News.’ Do I trust that his news is truly good?
Lent is a time where the Church traditionally encourages us to engage in three practices
1)    Increased prayer
2)    Almsgiving
3)    Fasting
How can I incorporate these into my daily life this lent?

15 February 2015 – 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time

“The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere”
More than a mere physical healing, this leper’s encounter with Jesus was something that drastically altered his life forever, so much so that he could not contain it.
He’d obviously heard of Jesus and the fact that he was able to heal people and so he set out to approach him with a heart full of trust.
As an outcast in his society, he was obviously careful to keep a safe distance from others due to the taboos which surrounded him and the horrible skin condition which afflicted him, however there was something in the person of Jesus that drew him in, that made him feel safe enough to approach and beg him for healing.
And Jesus, without entering into a long discourse or any such thing, was moved with pity and reached out to touching the man, healing him of this horrible and, at that time incurable skin disease.
What strikes us here is the heart of Jesus which was so overwhelmed with love for his fellow man. Jesus’ expression of pure love is not an impersonal, pious well-wishing. No. His earnest desire is for this leper’s well-being and as such he is moved to reach out and touch this man, whose skin condition makes him ‘untouchable.’ Nothing will stop Jesus reaching out to heal one who asks it of him with trust like this.

And for he that experienced this encounter, life was changed forever.

Point to Ponder
Do I believe that Jesus can heal my leprosy of inner turmoil and sin?
Those inner wounds and those burdens of sin are very much like this poor man’s leprosy, holding me back from true communion with God and with others, binding that true and lasting freedom to which Jesus calls us.
Am I confident in approaching Jesus and asking him for his healing mercy?

This lent, can I approach the Lord and ask for his healing in those areas of my life where I truly need it?

8 February 2015 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel Mk 1:29-39 

“He took her by the hand and helped her up”
An interesting thing to note here is the simple actions of this man. We’ve been following him for the last few weeks in the early days of his public ministry.
He’s now in Capernaum, he’s left behind his home in Nazareth and has begun his work as an itinerant preacher and miracle worker.
One of the things which is so evident in the Gospel stories is the focus on this focus on time and place. We are constantly reminded that these events are not fictional stories occurring in fictitious places. The historical fact of this man’s existence is something that had an impact on the Gospel writers, and requires a response of us.
His actions, and more simply his very person, are truly astonishing.
This particular Sabbath day Jesus returns from the Synagogue with his friends. We note that the first thing that they do is inform him of the illness which is afflicting Simon’s mother-in-law.
It is obvious that these blokes have witnessed things already that tell them that Jesus is able to do something in this situation.
I’m reminded here of how a child will show to his or her mother a scratch or a bump or a grazed knee, and expect that the attention shown will somehow make this situation better.

For the disciples this trust and expectation is indeed well founded. We are told simply that ‘He took her by the hand and helped her up.’ 

Questioning words
Do I take my cares and concerns to Jesus with an expectant heart?
Am I trusting of his ability to work in and through every circumstance of my life?

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