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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

Jesus heals the leper of his disease

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Mark 1:40–45 Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

 Figure by trees in sunshineLeprosy was one of the most repugnant and most feared diseases in the ancient world. In the Old Testament the term was used to denote a broad range of skin diseases, some of which were curable, and so the law stipulated conditions to be fulfilled if the disease was to be recognised as cured. In its most virulent form it was considered so serious that the rabbis regarded the healing of leprosy to be as difficult as raising the dead. Perhaps the worst effect of leprosy was that people suffering from any of the diseases covered by the term had to live isolated from society. They were forbidden from entering a dwelling, and if anyone approached they had to cry "Unclean, unclean!" (Lev. 13:45–46).

This understanding helps us to realise that in today's Gospel Jesus was approached by a person who was normally denied any contact with healthy people. Those surrounding Jesus must have shied away from the sick man, fearful of contamination. How did Jesus react to the man's presence? Some ancient manuscripts, rather than saying that he was 'moved with pity' (v. 41), read that he was 'moved with anger. Commentators reflect that this reading may portray Jesus’s anger against the power of evil seen as present in the illness. With a word and a touch Jesus healed the leper.

Despite the laws of Leviticus, the leper came to Jesus with great faith, and his faith was rewarded with his healing Jesus showed that he regarded compassion as more important than the ritual prohibitions against contact with the diseased. Nevertheless, he was obedient to the law in complying with the regulations surrounding the proof of a cure, telling the man to go to the priest and make the stipulated offering

As we try to follow Jesus’s way, we may ask ourselves: Who are the outcasts today? Who are those that we shy away from, in fear, loathing and contempt? Whether consciously or not, it is all too easy for us to retreat from those who are ill or suffering But people, whoever they are and whatever their condition, need compassion and care.

Lord, you cared for the outcasts of society.  Help me to make room in my heart for everyone, including those whom society judges as beyond redemption, for your mercy reaches out to all.

 

 

Leviticus 13:1–2, 44-46 • Psalm 31 (32):1-2, 5, 11 • 1 Corinthians 10:31–11:1 • Mark 1:40–45

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Heal our Sin, Lord Jesus

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Deep are the Wounds that Sin has Made

Mark 1:29–39 

In a commentary on St Mark's Gospel St Bede makes the following observation about the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, “The health which is conferred at the command of the Lord returns at once entire, accompanied with such strength that she is able to minister to those of whose help she had before stood in need.”  The miracle involved Jesus's directly touching her, taking her by the hand and helping her up, healed and ready to serve (v. 31).  This simple and seemingly minor incident and healing in Jesus's ministry reveals so much about who he is and why he came. Only God himself could heal as Jesus healed; only divine power could overturn the laws of nature and the grip of a fever and suffering so effortlessly and so immediately.

Christian revelation teaches us  that we are in need of healing because we are fallen and wounded by sin.  Each one of us is sick by sin. For sure, by God's grace baptism removes the stain of original sin but we bear its scar and we are wounded, subject to weakness and temptation during our life on earth.  The great apostle Paul, in heartfelt anguish and desperation, cried out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver  me from this body of death?”  (Rom. 7:24). Through baptism we are immersed in Jesus’s death and resurrection, but our life on earth is a struggle to overcome the sin which seeks to master us and be healed from the wounds and bruises we receive in the course of our battle with sin and what the Church calls 'concupiscence'.  

We can console ourselves with this reflection by the early church father St Irenaeus: “The Word of God, Jesus Christ, on account of his great love for humankind, became what we are in order to make us what he is himself.”  He who was without sin took away our sin that we who are sinful could know the freedom and joy of being children of God, heirs of Christ.  

May Christ come to our house and enter in and by his command cure the fever of our sins.  Each one of us is sick with a fever.  Whenever I give way to anger, I have a fever There are as many fevers as there are faults and vices. Let us beg the apostles to intercede for us with Jesus, that he may come to us and touch our hand. If he does so, at once our fever is gone. (St Jerome)

Job 7:1-7 • Psalm 146(147):1–6 • 1 Corinthians 9:16–19, 22–23 • Mark 1:29–39

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Jesus heals the sick

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Isaiah 25:6–10 • Psalm 22(23) • Matthew 15:29–37
 
A great crowd was brought to Jesus for healing and he healed them all.  Jesus is still able to heal broken lives, and we can be the ones to bring suffering people to him.
 
Who do you know who needs Christ’s healing touch?  You can bring them to Jesus through prayer or by explaining to them the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15 – below).
 
Then let Christ do the healing . . .
 
Chris
 
But in your hearts set Christ apart as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect.  
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Jesus and the Pharisees

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Pope Francis must be a bit of a nightmare for the Roman Curia. His easygoing, warm and inviting Latino approach to life has certainly ruffled a few feathers and raised a few eyebrows over the years since he became Pope. He has a kind of healthy and rather amusing approach to pomp, circumstance and the trappings of his centuries-old office.


However, Pope Francis is undoubtedly very conscious that he stands in the shoes of the humble fisherman. He refuses to wear the traditional papal red leather shoes, preferring instead his well-worn pair. He chooses to travel in a clapped-out Ford rather than the papal limo. He has declined to have the kind of security fitting for a leader of state, even saying no to bulletproof glass. He refuses to be a prisoner of the Vatican but rather its liberator. We should thank God that he is our Pope. Of course, Pope Francis is walking in the steps of jesus — because Jesus too ruffled feathers, kicked against the status quo and moved in the power of the Spirit.


Today we join Jesus seated at a 'nd of banquet, given, it would appear, in his honour. Many of the religious establishment of the day were there, watching to see whether he would step out of line. It is very likely that the sick man was a fellow guest but, remarkably, when he was healed by Jesus there was no joyful celebration, only stony silence. The law of the Sabbath had taken precedence over the law of God’s life and grace. What is at the heart of the matter here? Jesus was constantly challenging preconceptions about God and how to live by faith. He clearly loved the Pharisees, who on the whole were good men devoted to God and his law. They were, however, closed to what God was doing in their midst.



At the World Youth Day in Brazil in 2013, Pope Francis urged the young people present to mess things up in their parishes when they returned home. He meant that when following God’s will we may have to step out of line, ruffle feathers and challenge the status quo – we need to respect what has gone before but be open to what the Spirit is doing now in our midst.


Lord teach me to be open to the work of the Spirit both in my own life and in your world today.


Chris


From Bible Alive


Philippians 1:1–11 • Psalm 110(111) • 1–6   Luke 4:1-6



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Faith as Small as a Mustard Seed

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Matthew 17:14–20
 
A mustard seed held between two finger tips.
 

After glimpsing Jesus’s glory in his Transfiguration, the disciples had to come down from the mountain. They were truly brought back to earth by the failure of others to exorcise a demon. Though they had seen the glory of God, they still had to operate, as we all do, in a world where Satan has power because of human sin. Our encounters with God in prayer can give us the faith to be able to combat evil in our daily lives.

Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith. Unlike them, the father of the possessed boy was a model of faith: he knelt before Jesus and addressed him as Lord. He knew who Jesus was and that he had the power to set his son free. The disciples had some faith, but it was weak and needed strengthening. Jesus stressed the power of faith in a vivid way in his statement that even faith the size of a mustard seed could move a mountain. In the world’s perspective faith is something insignificant and powerless; yet it can achieve amazing results. If we only believe, God can do great things through us, and bring about what we think impossible.

Most of us would say we have faith and believe in God, but our challenge is to apply this faith in our daily lives. It is in times of trial and suffering that we are called to live by faith, and it is then that our faith can grow most. We need to exercise our faith, and work to make it grow — otherwise it may wither away and fail to reach its potential. We can nourish our faith by regular prayer, Scripture reading and celebrating the Eucharist. In these ways we allow God to speak to us and strengthen us with his grace.

We should not be content with a wavering faith. If we expect great things from God, he can do great things for us. Jesus’s saying about the grain of faith should not depress us and make us think ourselves inadequate, but inspire us with a vision of the wonderful work God can do if we truly have a firm faith in him and try to live it out every day.

Lord Jesus, I believe in you, but my faith is often weak. Strengthen my faith so that I may allow you to work through me in ways more wonderful than I can imagine.

Chris
 
 
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Only God can Forgive Sins

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Matthew 9:1–8
 
The teachers of the law got at least one thing right: by claiming to forgive sins, Jesus was claiming to be God.  And of course we know that he is God, and he does forgive sins, repeatedly.
 
Fr Ronald Rolheiser:

“. . .if the Catholicism that I was raised in had a fault, and it did, it was precisely that it did not allow for mistkes. If you made a mistake, you lived with it and, like the rich young man, were doomed to be sad, at least for the rest of your life. A serious mistake was a permanent stigmatization. We need a theolgy of brokenness. We need a theology which teaches us that even though we can’t unscramble an egg, God’s grace lets us live happily and with renewed innocence beyond any egg we may have scrambled. Every time we close a door, He opens another one for us . . .

"We need a theology that teaches us that God does not just give us one chance, but that every time we close a door, God opens another one for us. We need a theology that challenges us not to make mistakes, that takes sin seriously, but which tells us that when we do sin, when we do make mistakes, we are given the chance to take our place among the broken, among those whose lives are not perfect, the loved sinners, those for whom Christ came. We need a theology which tells us that a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance are just as valid as the first one. We need a theology that tells us that mistakes are not forever, that they are not even for a lifetime, that time and grace wash clean, that nothing is irrevocable. Finally, we need a theology which teaches us that God loves us as sinners and that the task of Christianity is not to teach us how to live, but to teach us how to live again, and again, and again."

Chris

from Ron Rolheiser

 

 

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Repentance

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Jonah 3:1–10, Luke 11:29–32
 
Lent is a time to be healed, restored and lifted up.  Repentance was for the people of Nineveh the gateway to life, and so it is for us.
 
We follow One who is greater than Jonah and Solomon; we follow Christ, the Son of the Living God.  The Holy Spirit leads us to salvation along the well-trodden path of repentance.
 
The Queen of Sheba was moved by the teaching of Solomon.  The Nineties felt compelled to repent by the teaching of the reluctanct evangelist Jonah.
 
How much more, then, should we be moved and compelled to repent by the teaching of the One who is greater than Jonah Moses and all the prophets, Jesus Christ our Saviour?
 
Chris
 
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"You are the Son of God"

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Mark 3:7-12
 
Mark told the story in this way, keeping the “Messianic Secret” in order that his readers would accept Jesus’s true identity on his terms, in the context of his entire life and mission.
 
For Mark we are free to proclaim Jesus as our Messiah and Lord only when we accept his way of suffering messiahship along with all the signs, wonders, healings and miracles that he performed.
 
Mark has created a moment of pause, reflection and meditation; so must we.
 
It will not be in the skimming of religious books or in hastening through our religious duties that we will become strong in faith.  It will be in the unhurried meditation on gospel truths that we will grow in holiness and sanctity,
 
How true the wisdom and insight of St John of the Cross who said, “My spirit has become dry because it forgets to feed on you."
 
Finding time to pray, to be still and to quieten our mind, heart and spirit that we may draw close to God as he comes close to us, requires both a decision and effort.  But in making them we will be richly rewarded.
 
”Spend an hour every day, some time before the midday meal, in meditation; and the earlier the better, because your mind will then be less distracted and fresh after a night’s sleep.”  (St Francis de Sales)
 
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The Faith of the Centurion

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Luke 7:11-17
 
Some of the most powerful and moving things Jesus said were connected with grief and loss.  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. (Matt. 5:4).  When faced with the grief of Mary and Martha, John informs us that “Jesus wept”.  
 
How moving it must have been to see Jesus, himself the Resurrection and the Life, weep freely and openly (John 11:35).  We meet the same heartfelt and profoundly compassionate response in today’s encounter with the widow: “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and she said, 'Don’t cry’ “ (v. 13 NIV).  His reaction teaches ius that Gpd’s heart is full of kindness and compassion for the human condition and predicament.
 
Grief strips us bare, but God is close to all those who have suffered loss, who are broken-hearted and grief-stricken.
 
Lord, your kindness, mercy and compassion are deeper thant the ocean, wider than the sea and extend from heaven to earth.
 
 
 
 
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I desire mercy, not sacrifice

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Matthew 9:9-13

What the Pharisess failed to grasp – and we have our moments, too – is that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Despite the grace of baptism we carry the wound of original sin and, rather like soldiers on the front line, we seek healing and repair in the field hospital of Christ.

“I can clearly see that what the Church needs today is the ability to heal wounds and warm the hearts of the faithful, it needs to be by their side.  I see the Church as a field hospital after a battle.  It’s pointless to ask a seriously injured patiend whether his cholesterols or blood sugar levels are hight!  It’s his wounds that need to be healed.  The rest we can talk about later.  Now we must think about treating those wounds.”  Pope Francis

Chris

(from Bible Alive)
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