Archive for September, 2012

Mark 9:38-43.47-48 a Lectio…

Posted: September 30, 2012 by CatholicJules in Meditations, Sunday Reflections

I found this to be helpful with quite a fair bit of interesting insights, hence sharing this with you

A key to the reading: 

The Gospel text of the 26th Sunday of ordinary time recounts part of a long instruction that Jesus addressed to his disciples (Mc 8,22 a 10,52). (See the commentary on the Gospel of 24th Sunday). This Gospel especially sets down three conditions necessary for the conversion of someone who wishes to follow him: (i) it corrects the wrong idea of those who think they own Jesus (Mk 9:38-40); (ii) it insists on welcoming little ones (Mk 9:41-42) and (iii) it demands a radical commitment to the Gospel (Mk 9:43-48).

This Sunday’s Gospel presents three important requirements for the conversion of anyone who wishes to be Jesus’ disciple: (i) Not to have a closed mentality like that of John the disciple who thought he owned Jesus, but to be open and ecumenical, able to recognise good in others, even though they may belong to another religion. (ii) To overcome the mentality of those who considered themselves superior to others and who, thus, despised the little ones and the poor and drew apart from the community. According to Jesus, such a person deserves to have a millstone tied round his neck and to be thrown into the depths of the sea. (iii) Jesus asks us not to let routine enter our living out of the Gospel, but that we may be able to break the ties that prevent us from living it fully.

● These three pointers are very real for us today. Many members of the Catholic Church tend to be anti-ecumenical and have a closed mentality as if we Christians are better than others. In today’s world, dominated by a neo-liberal system, many despise the little ones and everywhere poverty, hunger, refugees and those abandoned are on the increase. We Christians are often not committed to live the Gospel. If we, millions of Christians, were to really live the Gospel, the world would be a different place.

b) A commentary on the text:

Mark 9:38-40: A closed mentality.
One who did not belong to the community, used Jesus’ name to drive out devils. John, the disciple, sees this and forbids it: Because he was not one of us, we tried to stop him. In the name of the community, John tries to stop someone else from doing good! He thought that to be a good disciple he had to monopolize Jesus and, thus, wanted to stop others from using the name of Jesus in doing good. This was the closed and old mind of the “Chosen people, a people set apart!” Jesus replies: You must not stop him! Anyone who is not against us is for us! (Mk 9:40). For Jesus, what is important is not whether the person is or is not a member of the community, but whether this person does or does not do the good that the community should be doing. Jesus had an ecumenical mind.

Mark 9:41: Anyone who offers a cup of water will be rewarded.
One of Jesus’ sayings was inserted here: If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, then in truth I tell you, he will most certainly not lose his reward. Two thoughts to comment on this saying: i) “If anyone gives you a cup of water”: Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to give his life. The sign of a great offering! But he does not forget little offerings in daily life: a cup of water, a sign of welcome, an act of charity, and so many other signs to show our love. Anyone who despises the brick will never build a house! ii) “Because you belong to Christ”: Jesus identifies himself with us who wish to belong to him. This means that, for him, we are of great worth. Thus we must always ask ourselves: “Who is Jesus for me?” and also ask ourselves: “Who am I for Jesus?” This verse gives us an answer that is encouraging and full of hope.

Mark 9:42: A scandal to little ones.
A scandal is something that makes a person deviate from the straight path. To scandalize little ones is to cause little ones to deviate from the path and lose faith in God. Anyone who does so, is condemned to be: “thrown into the sea with a great millstone hung round his neck!” Why such harshness? Because Jesus identifies himself with the little ones (Mt 25:40.45). Anyone who hurts them, hurts Jesus! Today, in many places, the little ones, the poor, leave the Catholic Church and go to other churches. They can no longer believe in the Church! Why? Before we point the finger at the other churches, it is good to ask ourselves: why do they leave our house? If they leave it is because they do not feel at home with us. There must be something missing in us. How far are we to blame? Do we deserve the millstone around our necks?

Mark 9:43-48: Cutting off the hand and foot.
Jesus tells us to cut the hand or foot, to pluck out the eye, if these are the cause of scandal. He says: “It is better for you to enter into life crippled (maimed, with one eye), than to have two hands (feet, eyes) and go to hell”. These sayings cannot be taken literally. They are saying that we must be radical in our choice for God and for the Gospel. The expression, “Gehenna (hell), where their worm will never die nor their fire be put out”, is an image that depicts the situation of one without God. Gehenna was the name of a valley near Jerusalem, where the rubbish of the city was thrown and where there was a constant fire to burn the rubbish. This malodorous place was used by the people to symbolize the situation of one who had no part in the Kingdom of God.

c) Further information:

Jesus welcomes and defends the little ones

Many times, Jesus insists on welcoming little ones. “Anyone who welcomes a little child such as this in my name, welcomes me” (Mk 9:37). “If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, then in truth I tell you, he will most certainly not go without his reward” (Mt 10,42). He asks that we do not despise the little ones (Mt 18:10). At the final judgment, the just will be welcomed because they gave food to “one of the least of these brothers of mine” (Mt 25:40).

If Jesus insists so much on welcoming little ones, it is because many little ones were not made welcome! In fact, women and children did not count (Mt 14:21; 15:38), they were despised (Mt 18:10) and bound to silence (Mt 21:15-16). Even the apostles forbade them to go near Jesus (Mt 19:13; Mk 10:13-14). In the name of God’s law, badly interpreted by the religious authorities, many good people were excluded. Rather than welcoming the excluded, the law was used to legitimise exclusion.

In the Gospels, the expression “little ones” (in Greek elachistoi, mikroi or nepioi), sometimes means “children”, at other times it means those excluded from society. It is not easy to distinguish. Sometimes what is “little” in the Gospel, means “children” because children belonged to the category of “little ones”, of the excluded. Also, it is not easy to distinguish between what comes from the time of Jesus and what from the time of the communities for whom the Gospels were written. In any case, what is clear is the context of exclusion in practice at the time, and the image that the first communities had of Jesus: Jesus places himself on the side of the little ones and defends them. What Jesus does in defence of the life of children, of little ones, is striking:
Welcomes and forbids scandalizing them. One of Jesus’ hardest sayings is against those who give scandal to little ones, that is, who by their attitude deprive children of their faith in God. For such as these, it would be better to have a millstone tied round their necks and be thrown into the sea (Mk 9:42; Lk 17:2; Mt 18:6).

Welcomes and touches. When children come to Jesus to get his blessing, the apostles are upset and want to send them away. According to the customs of those days, mothers and little children lived practically in a permanent state of legal impurity. To touch them meant incurring impurity! But Jesus corrects the disciples and welcomes the mothers and children. He embraces the children. “Let the little children come to me, do not stop them!” (Mk 10:13-16; Mt 19:13-15).

● Identifies with the little ones. Jesus embraces the children and identifies with them. Anyone who welcomes them “welcomes me” (Mk 9:37). “In so far as you did this to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).

Asks the disciples to become like children. Jesus wants the disciples to become like children who receive the Kingdom like children. Otherwise it is not possible to enter the Kingdom (Mk 10:15; Mt 18:3; Lk 9:46-48). He says that children are the teachers of adults! This was not normal. We want to do the opposite.

Defends their right to shout. When Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem, it is the children who shout the loudest: “Hosanna to the son of David!” (Mt 21:15). Children were criticised by the chief priests and Scribes, but Jesus defends them and even quotes Scripture in their defence (Mt 21:16).

Is grateful for the Kingdom present in little ones. Jesus greatly rejoices when he realizes that the little ones understand the matters concerning the Kingdom that he proclaimed to the people. “Father, I thank you!” (Mt 11:25-26) Jesus sees that the little ones understand the things concerning the Kingdom better than the doctors!

Welcomes and heals. Jesus welcomes, heals or raises from the dead many children and young people: Jairus’ twelve-year-old daughter (Mk 5:41-42), the Canaanites’ daughter (Mk 7:29-30), the widow from Naim’s son (Lk 7: 14-15), the epileptic child (Mk 9:25-26), the public servant’s son (Jn 4:50), the child with five loaves and two fishes (Jn 6:9).

 

A Good Prayer Before Reading Scripture

Posted: September 30, 2012 by CatholicJules in Prayers

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.
Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.


Sunday Bible Reflections with Dr. Scott Hahn 

To Belong to Christ

Readings:
Numbers 11:25–29
Psalm 19:8,10,12–14
James 5:1–6
Mark 9:38–48
________________________________________

Today’s Gospel begins with a scene that recalls a similar moment in the history of Israel, the episode recalled in today’s First Reading. The seventy elders who receive God’s Spirit through Moses prefigure the ministry of the apostles.
Like Joshua in the First Reading, John makes the mistake of presuming that only a select few are inspired and entrusted to carry out God’s plans. The Spirit blows where it wills (see John 3:8), and God desires to bestow His Spirit on all the people of God, in every nation under heaven (see Acts 2:5, 38).
God can and will work mighty deeds through the most unexpected and unlikely people. All of us are called to perform even our most humble tasks, such as giving a cup of water, for the sake of His name and the cause of His kingdom.
John believes he is protecting the purity of the Lord’s name. But, really, he’s only guarding his own privilege and status. It’s telling that the apostles want to shut down the ministry of an exorcist. Authority to drive out demons and unclean spirits was one of the specific powers entrusted to the Twelve (see Mark 3:14–15; 6:7, 13).
Cleanse me from my unknown faults, we pray in today’s Psalm. Often, like Joshua and John, perhaps without noticing it, we cloak our failings and fears under the guise of our desire to defend Christ or the Church.
But as Jesus says today, instead of worrying about who is a real Christian and who is not, we should make sure that we ourselves are leading lives worthy of our calling as disciples (see Ephesians 1:4).
Does the advice we give, or the example of our actions, give scandal—causing others to doubt or lose faith? Do we do what we do with mixed motives instead of seeking only the Father’s will? Are we living, as this Sunday’s Epistle warns, for our own luxury and pleasure, and neglecting our neighbors?
We need to keep meditating on His Law, as we sing in today’s Psalm. We need to pray for the grace to detect our failings and to overcome them.

Who Do You Say I Am?

Posted: September 28, 2012 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys, Personal Thoughts & Reflections

 

Reflection on the question Jesus puts to us today….

Is Jesus real in our lives? Do we have a real authentic relationship with him?

Can we truly call Him our friend? our Lord? our God?

God before I or is it I before God?

We are called to movement, to action.  In Isaiah 50:4-9 we are called to renounce ourselves and take up the cross.

What is the cross we bear? It is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Can we embrace the sufferings in our lives which lead us to His kingdom?

Doing His Will for us with love and in love is the true cross, we embrace the suffering that comes with it and Jesus will give us rest for it is His yoke we bear.

 

Little Notes on Forgiveness….

Posted: September 28, 2012 by CatholicJules in Personal Thoughts & Reflections

The harm or pain other people cause us is small compared to our little sins against a most Holy God which are great in retrospect.

Jesus forgave us from the cross when we put Him there with our sins, can we do any less to forgive our brethren?

We should absorb the hurts and pain others give us and offer it up to Christ who is the only one who can take it away from us. Trust His love for us to set us free and never forget the Lord’s prayer especially when we utter “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” If we do not forgive, how do we expect to be forgiven?

In Retrospect…

Posted: September 26, 2012 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys, Personal Thoughts & Reflections

About a week ago, I was catching up with a Muslim brother over coffee. We were talking about past adventures, then somehow as we were talking about the previous company we had worked in, he mentioned something rather odd to me. He shared that a mutual Muslim friend, still working there had jokingly mentioned to him to be wary of me, otherwise he might end up being baptized by me! I could not help but feel a little peeved. What would give him that idea? We were not friends on Facebook hence he would not have seen any of my posts on my faith, so where? How? Then it finally dawned on me that we had other mutual friends, and that it must be through them that he got the idea. But hey why was I peeved? I should be joyfully praising the Lord! At least they know their Catholic brother is strong enough in his faith to share it with anyone willing to listen. To share about the greatest gift to us from God our Father, His only begotten Son, our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord!

While In Adoration….

Posted: September 26, 2012 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys, Meditations

In the stillness of your heart I speak to you, are you listening? My love speaks volumes, if only you would listen.

Go!….

Posted: September 26, 2012 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

More Testimonies That Jesus Lives! God Is Good…

Posted: September 25, 2012 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

All the time!

In this age it is apparent, that unless you lead a religious life it quite difficult to maintain a long sustaining relationship with Christ through prayer and reflection. Distractions are aplenty! So much so that we often lose sight and wonder of His presence in and through our lives.  Doubts may even creep in…..*sigh*….But here I am to tell you that HE LIVES!

Here are a few recent encounters of His love I have been blessed to share….

1) Given the circumstances of the brother in Christ I had been administering Holy Communion for the sick to ( see earlier post) , it was understandable that he was going through a little depression and spiritual darkness.  But after a few sessions of listening to the Word of the Lord, receiving Jesus in the Eucharist and in co-operation with the holy spirit through personal determination and spiritual growth he mustered enough strength to attend one mass so far in his wheelchair.  Praise the Lord! Please keep him in your prayers….that he may continue to grow in strength, love and spirit, to do and live according to Our Father’s will.

2) The baby son of the brother in Christ mentioned above had to be rushed to the hospital with a high fever recently, however within a week of daily family prayers for his son and am quite certain lots of others were praying too, his son recovered fully within the week and was reported to be a handful! Praise the Lord!

3) My elder son now coming eleven in December had to take his final stage test to qualify to be an alter server for the weekend mass. He was anxious and nervous about it because as far as he knew no one passed the first time around, in fact one of his friends took as many as four times before passing the test.  I told him to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and assured him that so long as he had the heart to serve, all would be well.  He passed the first time round and was even requested to serve the Sunday on the same weekend! Praise the Lord!

4) Last year I had facilitated the Holy Communion program for three families. During the adult portion of the program, I had learned through the sharing after speaking about reconciliation and the Father’s love for us;  That one of the participant’s father had lapsed in his faith, had a strained relationship with his wife likely, due to his frequent travels and even admitted to constantly being exposed to temptation while overseas. After the whole program ended and a few months had passed, I noticed both Father and son were regular in receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, then last week I manage to catch up with the Father and he shared with me that he will be starting a new job next month where he will no longer be required to travel and he is even considering joining a ministry in Church to server the Lord. Praise the Lord!

Jesus loves us all! open your hearts and minds to Him and you will experience Him in all things, large and small, loud and bold or soft and subtle like a gentle breeze……

 

 

The Church, Like A Vine, Spreads Everywhere In Her Growth

Posted: September 25, 2012 by CatholicJules in Memory Book

From a sermon On Pastors by St. Augustine, bishop

They were scattered on every mountain and on every hill and over the entire face of the earth. What is the meaning of the phrase: They were scattered over the entire face of the earth? Some men continually strive for all the goods of the world, the goods that are so evident on the face of the earth; yes, they love and prize them. They do not want to die, to have their lives buried in Christ. Over the entire face of the earth: such men love earthly things; moreover such straying sheep are to be found over the entire face of the earth. They dwell in different places, but one mother, pride, has given birth to them all, just as one mother, our Catholic Church, has given birth to all faithful Christians scattered over the whole world.

Small wonder that pride gives birth to division, and love to unity. But our catholic mother is herself a shepherd; she seeks the straying sheep everywhere, strengthens the weak, heals the sick, and binds up the injured. They may not know one another, but she knows all of them because she reaches out to all her sheep.

Thus she is like a vine that is spread out everywhere in its growth. The straying sheep are like useless branches which because of their sterility are deservedly cut off, not to destroy the vine but to prune it. When these branches were cut down, they were left lying there. But the vine grew and flourished, and it knew both the branches that remained upon it and those that had been cut off and left lying beside it.

She calls the stray sheep back, however, because the Apostle said in reference to the broken branches: God has the power to graft them on again. Call them sheep straying from the flock or branches cut off from the vine, God is equally capable of calling back the sheep or of grafting the branches on again, for he is equally the chief shepherd and the true farmer. And they were scattered over the entire face of the earth, and there was no one to search for them, no one to call them back, that is to say, no one among those wicked shepherds. There was no one to search for them, that is, no one among men.

Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: I live, says the Lord God. Notice the beginning of this passage; it is as if God were taking an oath, giving testimony to his own life. I live, says the Lord. The shepherds are dead, but the sheep are safe, for the Lord lives. I live, says the Lord God. Which shepherds are dead? Those who seek what is theirs and not what is Christ’s. But will there be shepherds who seek what is Christ’s and not what is theirs, and will they be found? There will indeed be such shepherds, and they will indeed be found; they are not lacking, nor will they be lacking in the future.


Sunday Bible Reflections by Dr. Scott Hahn

Servant of All

Readings:

Wisdom 2:12,17-20
Psalm 54:3-8
James 3:16-4:3
Mark 9:30-37

In today’s First Reading, it’s like we have our ears pressed to the wall and can hear the murderous grumblings of the elders, chief priests and scribes – who last week Jesus predicted would torture and kill Him (see Mark 8:31; 10:33-34).

The liturgy invites us to see this passage from the Book of Wisdom as a prophecy of the Lord’s Passion. We hear His enemies complain that “the Just One” has challenged their authority, reproached them for breaking the law of Moses, for betraying their training as leaders and teachers.

And we hear chilling words that foreshadow how they will mock Him as He hangs on the cross: “For if the Just One be the Son of God, He will…deliver Him…” (compare Matthew 27:41-43).

Today’s Gospel and Psalm give us the flip side of the First Reading. In both, we hear of Jesus’ sufferings from His point of view. Though His enemies surround Him, He offers himself freely in sacrifice, trusting that God will sustain Him.

But the apostles today don’t understand this second announcement of Christ’s passion. They begin arguing over issues of succession—over who among them is greatest, who will be chosen to lead after Christ is killed.

Again they are thinking not as God, but as human beings (see Mark 8:33). And again Jesus teaches the Twelve—the chosen leaders of His Church—that they must lead by imitating His example of love and self-sacrifice. They must be “servants of all,” especially the weak and the helpless – symbolized by the child He embraces and places in their midst.

This is a lesson for us, too. We must have the mind of Christ, who humbled himself to come among us (see Philippians 2: 5-11). We must freely offer ourselves, making everything we do a sacrifice in praise of His name.  As James says in today’s Epistle, we must seek wisdom from above, desiring humility not glory, and in all things be gentle and full of mercy.

Be Angry But…

Posted: September 17, 2012 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys


Sunday Bible Reflections by Dr. Scott Hahn

Following the Messiah

Readings:
Isaiah 50:4-9
Psalm 116:1-6, 8-9
James 2:14-18
Mark 8:27-35

In today’s Gospel, we reach a pivotal moment in our walk with the Lord. After weeks of listening to His words and witnessing His deeds, along with the disciples we’re asked to decide who Jesus truly is. 

Peter answers for them, and for us, too, when he declares: “You are the Messiah.” 

Many expected the Messiah to be a miracle worker who would vanquish Israel’s enemies and restore the kingdom of David (see John 6:15). 

Jesus today reveals a different portrait. He calls himself the Son of Man, evoking the royal figure Daniel saw in his heavenly visions (see Daniel 7:13-14). But Jesus’ kingship is not to be of this world (see John 18:36). And the path to His throne, as He reveals, is by way of suffering and death. 

Jesus identifies the Messiah with the suffering servant that Isaiah foretells in today’s First Reading. The words of Isaiah’s servant are Jesus’ words—as He gives himself to be shamed and beaten, trusting that God will be His help. We hear our Lord’s voice again in today’s Psalm, as He gives thanks that God has freed Him from the cords of death. 

As Jesus tells us today, to believe that He is the Messiah is to follow His way of self-denial—losing our lives to save them, in order to rise with Him to new life. Our faith, we hear again in today’s Epistle, must express itself in works of love (see Galatians 5:6). 

Notice that Jesus questions the apostles today “along the way.” They are on the way to Jerusalem, where the Lord will lay down His life. We, too, are on a journey with the Lord. 

We must take up our cross, giving to others and enduring all our trials for His sake and the sake of the gospel.  Our lives must be an offering of thanksgiving for the new life He has given us, until that day when we reach our destination, and walk before the Lord in the land of the living. 

Meditation On The Cross

Posted: September 15, 2012 by CatholicJules in Meditations

The cross is a passageway; it is a Passover. The cross is God’s true “passage”. But one does not stop or remain there. One does not abide in the cross; one abides in love. Abiding in suffering is bad. One does not abide in suffering, but in love. And because one abides in love, one assumes suffering; one assumes the cross. It is important to have a good understanding of this. The cross is unbearable if viewed from the outside. The cross is wisdom if viewed in the light of faith, that is, from the inside, as God himself views it.

Father Marie-Dominique Phillipe, o.p.

I Must Change

Posted: September 12, 2012 by CatholicJules in Memory Book, Prayers

A Prayer Of Blessed John Henry Newman

Man… Is ever changing. Not a day passes but I am nearer the grave. Whatever my age, whatever the number of my years, I am ever narrowing the interval between time and eternity…. O my God I am crumbling away,  as I go on! I am already dissolving into my first elements. My soul indeed cannot die, for you have made it immortal; but my bodily frame is continually resolving into that dust out of which it was taken.

Everything below heaven changes : spring, summer, autumn, each has its turn. The fortunes of the world change. What was high lies low; what was low rises high. Riches take wings and flee away; bereavements happen. Friends become enemies, and enemies friends. Our wishes, aims and plans change. There is nothing stable but you, O my God! And you are the center and life of all who change, who trust you as their Father, who look to you, and who are content to put themselves into your hands.

I know, O my God,  I must change, if I am to see your face!  I must undergo the change of death. Body and soul must die to this world. My real self, my soul must change by a true regeneration. Only the Holy can see you… Oh support me as I proceed in this great awful, happy change, with the grace of your unchangeableness…. Let me day by day be molded upon you, and be changed from glory to glory, by ever looking toward you, and ever leaning on your arm.

I know, O Lord, I must go through trial, temptation, and much conflict, if I am to come to you. I do not know what lies before me, but I know this. I know, too, that If you are not with me, my change will be for the worse, not for the better. Whatever fortune I have, rich or poor, healthy or sick, with friends or without, all will turn to evil if I am not sustained by the Unchangeable. All will turn to good if I have Jesus with me, yesterday and today, the same, and for ever.

For Meditation

Posted: September 11, 2012 by CatholicJules in Meditations, Memory Book

“God has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do his work, I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it if I just keep His commandments. Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain… He knows what He is about.”


Blessed John Henry Newman


Sunday Bible Reflections by Dr. Scott Hahn

All Things Well

Readings:
Isaiah 35:4-7
Psalm 146:7-10
James 2:1-5
Mark 7:31-37

The incident in today’s Gospel is recorded only by Mark. The key line is what the crowd says at the end: “He has done all things well.” In the Greek, this echoes the creation story, recalling that God saw all the things he had done and declared them good (see Genesis 1:31). 

Mark also deliberately evokes Isaiah’s promise, which we hear in today’s First Reading that God will make the deaf hear and the mute speak. He even uses a Greek word to describe the man’s condition (mogilalon = “speech impediment”) that’s only found in one other place in the Bible—in the Greek translation of today’s Isaiah passage, where the prophet describes the “dumb” singing. 

The crowd recognizes that Jesus is doing what the prophet had foretold. But Mark wants us to see something far greater—that, to use the words from today’s First Reading: “Here is your God.”

Notice how personal and physical the drama is in the Gospel. Our focus is drawn to a hand, a finger, ears, a tongue, spitting. In Jesus, Mark shows us, God has truly come in the flesh. 

What He has done is to make all things new, a new creation (see Revelation 21:1-5). As Isaiah promised, He has made the living waters of baptism flow in the desert of the world. He has set captives free from their sins, as we sing in today’s Psalm. He has come that rich and poor might dine together in the Eucharistic feast, as James tells us in today’s Epistle. 

He has done for each of us what He did for that deaf mute. He has opened our ears to hear the Word of God, and loosed our tongues that we might sing praises to Him. 

Let us then, in the Eucharist, again give thanks to our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. Let us say with Isaiah, Here is our God, He comes to save us. Let us be rich in faith, that we might inherit the kingdom promised to those who love Him.


Sunday Bible Reflections with Dr. Scott Hahn 

Pure Religion
Readings:
Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8
Psalm 15:2-5
James 1:17-18,21-22,27
Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
________________________________________

Today’s Gospel casts Jesus in a prophetic light, as one having authority to interpret God’s law.

Jesus’ quotation from Isaiah today is ironic (see Isaiah 29:13). In observing the law, the Pharisees honor God by ensuring that nothing unclean passes their lips. In this, however, they’ve turned the law inside out, making it a matter of simply performing certain external actions.
The gift of the law, which we hear God giving to Israel in today’s First Reading, is fulfilled in Jesus’ gospel, which shows us the law’s true meaning and purpose (see Matthew 5:17).

The law, fulfilled in the gospel, is meant to form our hearts, to make us pure, able to live in the Lord’s presence. The law was given that we might live and enter into the inheritance promised to us—the kingdom of God, eternal life.

Israel, by its observance of the law, was meant to be an example to surrounding nations. As James tells us in today’s Epistle, the gospel was given to us that we might have new birth by the Word of truth. By living the Word we’ve received, we’re to be examples of God’s wisdom to those around us, the “first fruits” of a new humanity.

This means we must be “doers” of the Word, not merely hearers of it. As we sing in today’s Psalm and hear again in today’s Epistle, we must work for justice, taking care of our brothers and sisters, and living by the truth God has placed in our hearts.

The Word given to us is a perfect gift. We should not add to it through vain and needless devotions. Nor should we subtract from it by picking and choosing which of His laws to honor.
“Hear me,” Jesus says in today’s Gospel. Today, we’re called to examine our relationship to God’s law.

Is the practice of our religion a pure listening to Jesus, a humble welcoming of the Word planted in us and able to save our souls? Or are we only paying lip-service?