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.
"This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."
Today we begin the Season of Ordinary Time. In this sense, Ordinary does not mean "common." The root of the word comes from "ordinal," so that it literally means "counted time." This is the season of the church year that is counted or marked week by week for a period of time after Advent and before Lent and from the end of the Easter Season until the end of the Church year. It is the time of the year, through the three Sunday cycles and the two daily cycles of the readings we get our biggest nourishment of scripture over a three year period.
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
Luke’s version of Jesus’ baptism describes the Spirit descending on Jesus in the physical form of a dove and the pronouncement of God’s affirmation of Jesus as Beloved Child. It appears that Jesus is both one of the crowd and set apart in a unique way. Still, this blessing is not the final story or the end of Jesus’ personal and spiritual growth; he must go on retreat in the wilderness to face the temptations of his vocation. Luke’s Jesus is one of us: fully human, seeking a tangible sign of his vocation. No doubt Jesus had prepared long and hard spiritually for a day such as this.
On the 6th of January 2022, the Solemnity of Epiphany, the Sisters of the Generalate and Procura had the joy of participating in the Eucharist with the Holy Father in St. Peter´s Basilica and also received the blessing at the Angelus Prayer. Pope Francis underlined that the magi set out to search for Jesus, moved by a big desire. How important it is for us, to live with a deep desire! To “look at the star and walk!” To show His light to our brothers and sisters.
1 John 4:7-10; Mark 6:34-44
The unbelievable, incomprehensible gift of the Incarnation is simply too big to celebrate as a single feast. So Christmas merges into Epiphany and both spread out into the days around them. Epiphany is actually the oldest of the Christmas celebrations – giving us, in stories and in theologizing, some hints of what this gift is all about – helping us get our heads around something really too big to grasp. In the readings around Epiphany we see a Jesus whose identity as God’s Son is revealed at His baptism, a Jesus who works wonders like multiplying bread, healing lepers, and walking on water. But perhaps most directly we hear today in 1 John who/what God actually is – love.
Do you know the joy and freedom of the gospel? John the Baptist’s enemies had sought to silence him, but the gospel cannot be silenced. As soon as John had finished his testimony Jesus began his in Galilee. Galilee was at the crossroads of the world and much traffic passed through this little region. It had been assigned to the tribes of Asher, Naptali and Zebulum when the Israelites first came into the land (see Joshua 9). For a long time it had been under Gentile occupation. Isaiah foretold (see Isaiah 9) that the good news of salvation would be proclaimed in this land and reach to the Gentiles. Jesus begins the proclamation of the gospel here to fulfill the word of God. The Old Testament prophets spoke of God’s promise to send a Redeemer who would establish God’s rule. That time is now fulfilled in Jesus.