In today's gospel reading, Mark 2:18-22, Christ talks about two integrated concepts: the old verses the new and joyfulness. He refers to himself as a bridegroom and calls us to celebrate with him when he says, "As long as they (the disciples) have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast." In The Church of Mercy, our beloved Pope Francis also intentionally calls us to be JOYFUL. "And here the first word that I wish to say to you: joy! Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but of having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst."
▪ On November 28, on the eve of first Sunday of Advent Pope Francis held a consistory, creating 13 new cardinals. Among them are Msgr. Antoine Kambanda, Archbishop of Kigali (Rwanda) and Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington D.C., the first African-American Cardinal and Fra Raniero Cantalamessa, Capuchin, Preacher of the Papal Household.
1 Sam 3:3b-10, 19; 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20; John 1:35-43
A Worthwhile Encounter
One of the greatest gifts we can give to another person is our ears. If people could listen to each other the world would be a safer and healthier place. But it’s dangerous to listen: you will be invited to share pains as well as joys; you will be disturbed as well as enriched; you will meet people, rather than just be acquainted.
Jesus has just healed (physically and spiritually) the paralytic man. Now, Jesus takes time out of his teaching to say to Levi, a tax collector who is working at the time, “follow me.” Mark then presents the scene of Jesus at Levi’s house at table with him and many other “tax collectors and sinners.” As usual, the sight of Jesus in this situation upsets the Pharisees, which leads to Jesus saying, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
The reading from the Gospel of Saint Mark reminds me of what often happens in our Church:
- As Jesus’ followers gathered around him, we are regularly coming together to listen to his word in our religious services, to having communion with him, and to be strengthened by the fellowship of believers.
- As Jesus’ followers focused on Christ, we too are attentive to his word.
- As Jesus’ followers did not see the paralytic men who wanted to be close to Jesus, we often also overlook the human suffering around us, which is in need of Christ’s healing touch.
Harden not your hearts!
I found this image on Google. A heart encased in stone being set free. What was the remedy?
Imagine… a human heart encased in stone is a dead heart. Yes, hearts of stone are those who let hate encase their hearts of flesh. Hearts of stone are those who let evil triumph within themselves, exhibiting behaviors that choose death, not life; bigotry, not acceptance and equality; war, not peace. The heart of our world seems to suffer from so many hardened hearts where evil seemingly wins.
The liturgical feast of Epiphany in the Church of Tanzania was celebrated on Sunday, January 3rd. However, as a Pallottine family, we kept our tradition of celebrating on the 6th of January. Our two communities: the International Novitiate and the Leadership Community joined together for the celebration. We also invited the Pallottine Fathers and Brothers who work in Arusha and outside, and were able to join us. As a custom on this day, we also invited our workers and the neighboring religious communities. The Sisters of St. Elizabeth Congregation also joined us on this joyful day.
We read in Mark’s gospel today of the activities of Jesus; these early verses of Mark are a kind of summary of what Jesus committed himself to throughout his public life: healing of people’s ills. Healing, preaching God’s Kingdom, and simply being the attractive person he was, by drawing wide interest among “the crowds” and especially among his special friends, the disciples. “he cured many who were sick. . . and he drove out many demons not permitting them to speak. . .”
Jesus speaks here at the beginning of His career with striking authority, not through a repetition, a simple commentary, or a refinement of the text but as a prophet, one speaking directly the words of God Himself. He knows the text that He is opening for His community perfectly well, since He is permeated with the words of the Old Testament and filled with the Holy Spirit, just like His mother: it will become apparent later in His life that He is not only a special vessel of God's word, He is God's Word. At this early point, though, His mastery of the written word and the oral delivery of it sets Him up for a special role in salvation history.