Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday after Epiphany

Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25 - World English Bible

12 Now when Jesus heard that John was delivered up, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he came and lived in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying,

15 "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
toward the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
16 the people who sat in darkness saw a great light,
to those who sat in the region and shadow of death,
to them light has dawned."

17 From that time, Jesus began to preach, and to say, "Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

23 Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness among the people. 24 The report about him went out into all Syria. They brought to him all who were sick, afflicted with various diseases and torments, possessed with demons, epileptics, and paralytics; and he healed them. 25 Great multitudes from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

These verses from Matthew summarized the beginning of Jesus' ministry: in timing, in geography, in message and in reputation. He started to preach after the arrest of the Baptist, so he could continue John's message, "Repent, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." While he emphasized continuity in message with John, he differed in means; he reached out to the people from a base of operations in Capernaum, a fishing center (pop. 1500) on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew used the geography to site Isaiah 9:1-2 as a fulfillment of the Messianic mission). From this village and with his message, he went to the people and the people came to him for teaching and healing; he gathered a hodge-podge mixture of followers, mostly Jewish but some Greek (from the Decapolis). Thus, he set himself in a thematic line of apocalyptic thinking (the Kingdom is near), yet distinguished himself in the means of his ministry.

What is you individual style in passing along the Good News?

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Tuesday after Epiphany

Mark 6:34-44 - World English Bible

34 Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things. 35 When it was late in the day, his disciples came to him, and said, "This place is deserted, and it is late in the day. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages, and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat."

37 But he answered them, "You give them something to eat."

They asked him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give them something to eat?"

38 He said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go see."

When they knew, they said, "Five, and two fish."

39 He commanded them that everyone should sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 They sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves, and he gave to his disciples to set before them, and he divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate, and were filled. 43 They took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and also of the fish. 44 Those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

How do you take the lunch of a poor Galilean family and, with it, feed over 5,000 people? That was the dilemma the disciples thought they faced. Five barley loaves (actually biscuits, smaller than the size of a fist) and two dried fish were to spread how far?

Sometimes we view life through the eyes of the disciples, even in our worship. We don't expect much in Mass, so our worship becomes rote, even boring at times. Yet, this passage has liturgical overtones written all over it. Jesus taught in the wilderness to the multitudes, then he blessed, broke and shared that simple family meal to feed that great crowd. Through the ministers at Mass, he does the same by sharing himself in Word and Eucharist.

How can I do so much for others when I have so little time, energy and money, God? Consider what Christ has done for us. Consider the great mystery we celebrate at Mass every Sunday.

How can you multiple what you have for the good of others?

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Wednesday after Epiphany

Mark 6:45-52 - World English Bible

45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat, and to go ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he himself sent the multitude away. 46 After he had taken leave of them, he went up the mountain to pray.

47 When evening had come, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and he was alone on the land.48 Seeing them distressed in rowing, for the wind was contrary to them, about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea, and he would have passed by them, 49 but they, when they saw him walking on the sea, supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; 50 for they all saw him, and were troubled. But he immediately spoke with them, and said to them, "Cheer up! It is I! Don't be afraid."51 He got into the boat with them; and the wind ceased, and they were very amazed among themselves, and marveled; 52 for they hadn't understood about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Where is Jesus when we need him the most? And, when he does arrive, why does he take us by surprise? We ask those questions maybe, just maybe, because our hearts have so calcified that we don't like to step out of our comfort zones.

The gospel began when Jesus sent his disciples ahead, so he could spent intimate time with his Father (represented by prayer on the mountain). Without the Master, they sailed across the lake, but were suddenly caught up in fierce wind storm (such storms were not unusual on the Sea of Galilee). And, without the Master, they feared for their lives. Then, Jesus arrived, walking on water, calling out to them, "Cheer up! I AM." Like the name God gave himself to Moses, Christ identified himself as divine, not as pure being like the philosophers, but as "I AM (fill-in the blank)." I AM the one saving you. I AM the one to leads you. I AM the one who cares for you. I AM...

Mark liked to comment on the disciples lack of understanding. Even when they witnessed to great miracles, they still didn't get it. Instead of deepening their faith, they just seemed to be along for the experience.

Is our faith journey like that of the disciples in Mark's gospel? Do we call out when Jesus seems distant, but fail to see his miracles when he is close?

Take some time today to see God working even small miracles in your live.

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Thursday after Epiphany

Luke 4: 14-22 - World English Bible

14 Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and news about him spread through all the surrounding area. 15 He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

16 He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written,

18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to heal the broken hearted,
to proclaim release to the captives,
recovering of sight to the blind,
to deliver those who are crushed,
19 and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."

20 He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began to tell them, "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

22 All testified about him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth.

Luke's gospel is the Good News about the Spirit, the motivating factor in his account about Jesus. The Spirit thrust the Master into the desert to be tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1-13). Now, in the power of the Spirit, Jesus returned to his hometown to proclaim the Spirit found a resting place in him (Isaiah 61:1-2); that indwelling of God's power defined him as the Christ ("the Spirit of the Lord is on me"); his mission was a demonstration of that power when he served the poor, the the broken, the exiled, the infirmed. In his identity and ministry, Scripture had been fulfilled, because the Spirit was present and active.

Where do you see the Spirit work in you life?

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Friday after Epiphany

Luke 5:12-16 - World English Bible

12 While he was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man full of leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell on his face, and begged him, saying, "Lord, if you want to, you can make me clean."

13 He stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I want to. Be made clean."

Immediately the leprosy left him. 14 He commanded him to tell no one, "But go your way, and show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing according to what Moses commanded, for a testimony to them." 15 But the report concerning him spread much more, and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. 16 But he withdrew himself into the desert, and prayed.

Jesus cured a leper, but Luke gave the healing a twist. The Law of Moses commanded those with skin disease to live in quarantine outside cities where they could not contaminate others. Unlike many of the other leprosy miracles, Luke placed the leper in the proximately of others (in the city) and at the healing touch of Jesus. Like the other leprosy narratives, Jesus instructed the man to present himself to the priests so they could confirm the health of the man and, so, lift the quarantine on the man. And, like the others, the reputation grew so much, Jesus had to escape to the wilderness to find solace with his Father.

Sometimes we need both healing and quiet time to recharge, yet, the intimacy of our urban settings deny us that chance. At those times, we need to turn to Jesus and ask for his gentle touch.

When have you asked for healing from the Lord? What happened?

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Saturday after Epiphany

John 3:22-30 - World English Bible

22 After these things, Jesus came with his disciples into the land of Judea. He stayed there with them, and baptized. 23 John also was baptizing in Enon near Salim, because there was much water there. They came, and were baptized. 24 For John was not yet thrown into prison. 25 There arose therefore a questioning on the part of John's disciples with some Jews about purification. 26 They came to John, and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, the same baptizes, and everyone is coming to him."

27 John answered, "A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent before him.' 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. This, my joy, therefore is made full. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease."

In these passages, the evangelist mentioned that Jesus himself baptized people at the same time John exercised his ministry. The competition between two raised some questions about purification. In other words, which baptism prepared the believer for the Kingdom? Put another way, which baptizer truly reflected the message of God? After all, the authentic prophet would have the authentic baptism. Underneath that controversy lay a problem that prompted the discussion; Jesus' ministry eclipsed John's.

John answered both the question and the problem. He was not the Christ, Jesus was. So, the message and baptism of Jesus were more He prepared the way for the Anointed, his message and his baptism. The followers of John should not be concerned or angry over the decline of his ministry, but rejoice like the best man at a wedding. John must decrease, while Jesus must increase.

Have you felt jealous over the success of others? How can you turn that jealousy into rejoicing?

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