Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in First Week of Ordinary Time

Mark 1:14-20 - World English Bible

14 Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Good News of God's Kingdom, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and God's Kingdom is at hand! Repent, and believe in the Good News."

16 Passing along by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you into fishers for men."

18 Immediately they left their nets, and followed him. 19 Going on a little further from there, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them, and they left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him.

Marks' gospel presented the beginning of Jesus' public ministry with message and calling. He continued the core insight of the Baptist's preaching: repent for the coming Kingdom. Then he went to call followers, starting with two sets of brother: Simon and Andrew, James and John. Since the disciples were fishermen, he used an analogy of their livelihood to describe their new roles; they would follow the Master and case a net for new members of the Kingdom.

The text implied they left their parochial interests at the moment of their call for the greater challenge. Why? Some scholars speculate they knew Jesus either personally or by reputation. Since Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee was only twenty miles distant from Nazareth, some believe the carpenter Jesus could have sought employment there. If that were the case, certainly he could have made friends and business connections in the village and along the western shoreline of the lake. Such a personal network might have helped him spread the message and recruit hand picked followers.

How can you use your personal network of friends and family to share the Good News?

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Tuesday in the First Week of Ordinary Time

Mark 1:21-28 - World English Bible

21 They went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught. 22 They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, 24 saying, "Ha! What do we have to do with you, Jesus, you Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know you who you are: the Holy One of God!"

25 Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!"

26 The unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching? For with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him!" 28 The report of him went out immediately everywhere into all the region of Galilee and its surrounding area.

Imagine a verbal dispute between two eighth grade boys. As the arguing heats up, the name calling and taunts pile up, not for their own sake, but in a race to find that one insult that cuts deep, revealing the true character of the one hurt.

The demon in this passage argued like our eighth grade boy. He used a name against Jesus, one that, as it revealed the true identity of the man from Nazareth, would cut deep, throw Jesus off balance and give him a chance to defend himself. Calling his opponent the "Holy One of God" might give him some leverage, since it might shame the divine healer.

Jesus, of course, would have none of that. Like a teacher who confronted a sparring eighth grader, he used his authority to cut the confrontation short with a simple command: shut up and get out.

Notice the reaction of the crowd. They did not praise Jesus for his miracle (the exorcism) but for his teaching. His word had power. The Good News itself freed people from dark forces. It does the same even today.

How has the Good News freed you from the digs and taunts modern living?

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Wednesday in the First Week of Ordinary Time

Mark 1:29-39 - World English Bible

29 Immediately, when they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon's wife's mother lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 He came and took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them. 32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to him all who were sick, and those who were possessed by demons. 33 All the city was gathered together at the door. 34 He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. He didn't allow the demons to speak, because they knew him.

35 Early in the morning, while it was still dark, he rose up and went out, and departed into a deserted place, and prayed there. 36 Simon and those who were with him followed after him; 37 and they found him, and told him, "Everyone is looking for you."

38 He said to them, "Let's go elsewhere into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because I came out for this reason." 39 He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out demons.

In these passages from Mark, we can see a pattern of the Lord's ministry: healing, personal prayer and mobility. First, Jesus raised Simon Peter's mother-in-law up from an unnamed, but debilitating illness. In response, she returned to her place in his family and her role in society as a servant. (Notice that, while on one level the role might be seen as subservient and demeaning, in the context of Jesus' teaching, she exercised a leadership role within the Christian community.) Many more healings followed this one; in fact, the entire city seemed to be at Simon's door.

Next, Jesus withdrew to pray before dawn. He balanced his time between public ministry and private prayer. But even in this balance, the needs of others would not give him rest.

Finally, he took his disciples to the next town and the next, in order to spread the Good News. Proclaiming the coming reign of God trumped any parochial need or desire.

Public activity, personal prayer, proclaiming the Good News. The Lord left us an example of the Christian leadership and lifestyle

How are you engaged in public service to others? How do you balance that service with personal prayer? How do both help you spread the Christian message?

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Thursday in the First Week of Ordinary Time

Mark 1:40-45 - World English Bible

40 A leper came to him, begging him, kneeling down to him, and saying to him, "If you want to, you can make me clean."

41 Being moved with compassion, he stretched out his hand, and touched him, and said to him, "I want to. Be made clean." 42 When he had said this, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was made clean. 43 He strictly warned him, and immediately sent him out, 44 and said to him, "See you say nothing to anybody, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing the things which Moses commanded, for a testimony to them."

45 But he went out, and began to proclaim it much, and to spread about the matter, so that Jesus could no more openly enter into a city, but was outside in desert places: and they came to him from everywhere.

Mark's gospel presented a remarkable scenario: one shunned from society who dared to defy a cultural taboo for a favor. In Mosaic law, a leper suffered quarantine until the disease ran its course; only then could the outcast return to his former place. In this case, sick man broke the wall of separation, seeking a cure. Even more remarkable, Jesus violated the Law by touching the leper and healing him. Two men violated a divinely-given edict to prove to the religious elite that God worked in the lives of people, despite their place and power. But, the former outcast did not deliver the testimony to the leaders; instead, he evangelized others.

Evangelization is not our efforts to bring others to Christ. No, like the leper, we simply share the Good News of God's activity in our lives and let the Spirit do the rest.

What has God done in your life recently? How have you shared that moment with others?

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Friday in the First Week of Ordinary Time

Mark 2:1-12 - World English Bible

1 When he entered again into Capernaum after some days, it was heard that he was in the house. 2 Immediately many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even around the door; and he spoke the word to them. 3 Four people came, carrying a paralytic to him. 4 When they could not come near to him for the crowd, they removed the roof where he was. When they had broken it up, they let down the mat that the paralytic was lying on. 5 Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you."

6 But there were some of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 "Why does this man speak blasphemies like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

8 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, said to them, "Why do you reason these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to tell the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven;' or to say, 'Arise, and take up your bed, and walk?' 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins",he said to the paralytic, 11 "I tell you, arise, take up your mat, and go to your house."

12 He arose, and immediately took up the mat, and went out in front of them all; so that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, "We never saw anything like this!"

In looking at this passage from Mark, we can compare the believers with the critics. The four men had faith in Jesus, while the scribes questioned the extent of his authority. Another view requires us to focus on the Son of Man. This title echoed God's address to Ezekiel (93 times in the book) and Daniel's use in his famous vision (7:13; Daniel 7 referred to the Merkabah image from Ezekiel 1). Christianity differed from its Jewish roots by adding the definite article ("the" Son of Man); this addition shifted the focus from an archtype ("son of man" referred to any male) to a particular person. While the meaning of the phrase "the Son of Man" has been hotly debated in scholarly circles, we can have no doubt Jesus used it in a self-referential manner as a means to justify his claims to divine authority. As the Son of Man, he could heal and forgive sin.

When has the Son of Man healed you?

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Saturday in the First Week of Ordinary Time

Mark 2:13-17 - World English Bible

13 He went out again by the seaside. All the multitude came to him, and he taught them. 14 As he passed by, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he arose and followed him.

15 He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners sat down with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many, and they followed him. 16 The scribes and the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, "Why is it that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?"

17 When Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

In Mark, Jesus grew in reputation and in followers. Like the call of the fishermen, now he called a tax collector, Levi. His public friendship with these people scandalized the religious elite. They treated sinners in the same way they treated disease, with separation. However, Jesus treated the shunned the same way he treated those with illness, with intimacy. Like the doctor, he identified with the patient, not the malignity; he came to call sinners, not the righteous to repentance.

Could anyone be so righteous as not to enjoy Gods mercy?

Think of someone who has scandalized you. Can you empathize with them?

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