Psalm 40:7-8, 8-9, 10, 17
In today’s theologically dense first reading, Jesus is referred to as a High Priest and Savior; one who is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens”. In these words and images, where Jesus “has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” he seems so far away, so far removed from our lives and our daily concerns. How can he possibly care about us or be involved in our world?
Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17
Psalm 110:1, 2, 3, 4
Today's Gospel story of Jesus curing on the sabbath is familiar to most Christians. In today's reading we have Mark's account, but accounts of Jesus and the disciples being accused of Sabbath breaking appear in at least two other Gospels.
Often these readings are presented as being a contest between the "letter" and the "spirit" of God's law. We all see the absurdity of having a rule that forbids one from working a miracle on the Sabbath. While we aren't capable of working miracles in Jesus' sense, many are capable of performing CPR. Would someone really take the position that if a person with a heart condition collapsed on the Sabbath that it would be a sin to perform CPR on that person until the ambulance arrived? In fact, the Pharisees' law contained some emergency exceptions. It was permissible, for instance, for one to pull an ox out of a ditch on the Sabbath.
St. Vincent Pallotti by Sr. Julitta Gołębiowska SAC
God always and in everything, God.
St. Vincent Pallotti
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the spirit of St. Vincent Pallotti,
May grace and thanksgiving accompany us as we celebrate today the feast of St. Vincent Pallotti. Being united with all of you on this Founder's day, we present to God each of you and all that you hold in your heart: your joys, concerns and sorrows. May the example of St. Vincent Pallotti's life, his undivided love for Christ and the Blessed Mother, as well as his inexhaustible zeal for every person who was in need, be our inspiration and our strength for our daily life and our mission in the Church.
Psalm 110:1, 2, 3, 4
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."
Paolo Veronese, Wedding in Cana, ca 1570
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
"So they filled them up to the brim."
Jesus not only provides the best of wines (the greatest of joys), his own joy is also filled completely to the brim. To the point where the vessels could not hold one more drop!
This finest of wines, this greatest of joys, it is not meant for us individually. It was not given so that the wedding couple could open up a wine cellar and drink themselves silly for the rest of their married lives. This finest of wines, this greatest of joys, is meant to be shared by all. It is meant to overflow into the lives of everyone present.
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.”
Hebrews 4:1-5, 11; Mark 2:1-12
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.
Faith is a force of consolation in suffering
Christians know that suffering cannot be eliminated, yet it can have meaning and become an act of love and entrustment into the hands of God who does not abandon us; in this way it can serve as a moment of growth in faith and love... Nor does the light of faith make us forget the sufferings of this world. How many men and women of faith have found mediators of light in those who suffer! So it was with Saint Francis of Assisi and the leper, or with Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her poor. They understood the mystery at work in them. In drawing near to the suffering, they were certainly not able to eliminate all their pain or to explain every evil. Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey.
There are clearly two parts in today’s gospel narrative that present Jesus first as giver and then as receiver leading again to his giving.
Faced with human need, Jesus’ heart is moved to do what he can to alleviate their suffering. He frees those who are possessed by demons and heals those who are sick, including Peter’s mother-in-law (I facetiously find here the root of Peter’s denials: he never forgave Jesus for curing his mother-in-law). As Paul will much later tell his friends in Ephesus using an otherwise uncorroborated saying of Jesus, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving” [Acts 20:35]. At least at the level of ministry, my own experience resonates with that quote. Yet in the course of years of ministry I have learned that I cannot keep on giving without at some point receiving. In my early years I found myself at times “drained”, empty, victim of one-sided spiritual activism.
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.