“Do you still not understand?” Mark 8:21
In the gospel, Jesus scolds his disciples. They are with him every day. So much has happened to them already and still they still do not understand.
We are like that. Things happen all around us that we look past. We see in the same old ways; what is closest must struggle to dislodge our wooden habits of perception and awaken our hearts. Skipping over what is truly present, we ogle the spectacle. Without understanding, our lives slip away and what matters is forgotten.
Out of the Depths
By the time of the encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees described in today’s gospel, Jesus had performed various miracles and works of power. The Pharisees were not satisfied, but seemed to want something more, something on a grander scale perhaps. Mark’s gospel, the shortest of the four, presents the deeds and words of Jesus in a succinct manner, but not to the exclusion of details. Today, we are given Jesus’ verbal response to the Pharisees, but not before we are given a clue as to Jesus’ inner reaction to their request.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE TWENTY-SIXTH WORLD DAY OF THE SICK 2018
Mater Ecclesiae: “Behold, your son... Behold, your mother.
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (Jn 19:26-27)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Church’s service to the sick and those who care for them must continue with renewed vigour, in fidelity to the Lord’s command (cf. Lk 9:2-6; Mt 10:1-8; Mk 6:7-13) and following the eloquent example of her Founder and Master.
The theme for this year’s Day of the Sick is provided by the words that Jesus spoke from the Cross to Mary, his Mother, and to John: “Woman, behold your son ... Behold your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:26-27).
Leviticus 13:1-2,45-46; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45
On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is Michelangelo's famous painting of the creation of Adam, in which the outstretched hand of God the Creator almost, but not quite, touches the outstretched hand of Adam. Within that tiny gap between the two fingers is found - so we can imagine - the entire energy of creation, as the One-who-is reaches out to the one-who-is-not so that he might come to be. God said 'let there be', and there was.
In today's gospel reading Jesus reaches out and touches a leper who has asked to be made clean. In that moment when the outstretched hand of Jesus reaches the suffering body of the leper is found - so we can imagine - the entire energy of the new creation, as the Word become flesh reaches out to the one subject to the power of sin and death, so that he might live a new life. Jesus said 'I will, be clean' and the leprosy left him.
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1 Kings 12:26-32; 13:33-34; Psalm 106:6-7ab, 19-20, 21-22; Mark 8:1-10
Our readings today are antithetical. The first reading is all about selfishness. Jeroboam is only thinking of himself and his position. He wants to retain the power, so he creates false idols and lures the people to worship him and his idols instead of God. He creates priests willy-nilly to give people a false sense of power and security. He is sinning and causing the people to sin. The psalm reiterates that the people forgot the God who saved them and worshipped false gods and idols instead. This selfishness was sin and he dragged others down with him.
1 Kings 11:29-32; 12:19; Mark 7:31-37
In today’s gospel the crowd brings to Jesus a deaf man with a speech impediment and begs Jesus to lay his hand on him. Note how Jesus deals with the man, one on one, sensitively, carefully and compassionately.
“He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (that is ‘Be opened!)”
1 Kings 11:4-13; Mark 7:24-30
Solomon was not loyal to his God. He tried hard to be loyal to his many wives and their gods but not his own God. Loyalty is a basic virtue.
We all know how loyal a dog is to his/her master. After absence from home it is a heart warmer to open the front door and have your dog leap with joy into your arms. “My Dog Skip,” the movie, showed this bond of love and loyalty between a boy and his dog. Solomon couldn’t be as loyal as Skip!!!
1 Kings 10:1-10; Mark 7:14-23
The heart of being Christian is proclaiming and following the message of Jesus. Jesus’ dialogue with his disciples in today’s gospel cuts to the heart of the Christian message asserting that internal disposition of heart, not punctilious external obligation, is central to following Jesus.
Doubtless Jesus was engaged in a discussion about the Jewish food laws as contained in the Jewish law. Does observation of these make one holy and lack of observation defile one? Jesus is forthright: “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from the outside cannot defile. . . .But what comes out of a man, that is what defiles him.”
1 Kgs 8:22-23, 27-30; Mark 7:1-13
….“you keep your covenant of mercy with your servants who are faithful to you with their whole heart.”
This statement seems to be the essence of our readings for today. The readings speak to our need to be truthful, honest and sincere in our relationship with God. In the Gospel reading it is quite clear that the message to us is to act out of sincere love for God, for the laws of God, out of our appreciation for all that God has done and will continue to do for us.