1 Samuel 16:1-13; Mark 2:23-28
Today's readings present two of my favorite Biblical accounts. The first is the choosing of David as king. The Gospel account is that of Jesus being confronted by a Pharisee because His disciples were violating the Sabbath by picking grain.
At first glance the two readings might seem to have nothing to do with each other, but in fact I believe that they are closely related. The key passage in the first reading is one that has always been a little frightening to me. God says to Samuel: "Not as man sees does God see, because he sees the appearance, but the LORD looks into the heart." I find this a bit unsettling, because — as with, I believe, all humans — there is plenty in my heart that I don't want anybody to see. There lie all of my weaknesses, temptations, unfulfilled desires and unholy thoughts.
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."
Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34
1. John “Saw Jesus Coming Toward Him.” - Jesus is always coming toward us, too. Why? Because he loves us. He never imposes himself. He doesn’t burst through the door and force us to accept him or even acknowledge him. But he does remain close, hoping we will catch a glimpse of his love and, in that instant, recognize that he is everything our hearts long for. What will happen if we open the door of our life, of our heart, to Christ? He will call us to abandon the tight confines of our egotism, greed, lust, envy, and selfishness. He will open undreamed-of horizons and give a rich, new dimension to our poor, fleeting days on this earth. He will bestow on us a transcendent mission: to testify to him not only with our words, but with everything that we are.
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 Christmas Night liturgy in St Peter’s Basilica was attended by many pilgrims from all over the world. While presiding at the Holy Eucharist, Pope Francis in his homily gave an encouraging message focused on the theme of God’s grace: bringing salvation to all and shining on our world. The Pope described this grace as divine love, the love that changes lives, renews history, liberates from evil, it fills hearts with peace and joy. Furthermore, “Christmas reminds us that God continues to love us all, even the worst of us because we are precious in His eyes. His love is unconditional and does not change; it does not depend on us. His love it is not fickle, it is faithful. It is patient. In the beauty of God’s love, we also discover our own beauty, for we are the beloved of God. In His eyes we are beautiful, not for what we do, but for what we are”.
“Awake, encounter Christ and be witness of Joy to the world”
The members of Mary, Mother of Divine Love Province in India had their General Visitation from 28th October to 15th December 2019 made by Sr. Josephina D’Souza, the Vice - General and Sr. Liberata Niyongira, the General Councilor.
On 28 December 2019, the day of the Holy Innocents, the two Pallottine Sisters´ Communities joyfully celebrated the Mystery of Christmas in the Generalate of the Roman Pallottine Sisters and shared the joy of the Nativity of Jesus. The singing of Christmas carols in different languages, prayers at the manger and games for this season marked this community gathering. We all felt the beautiful Christmas atmosphere and close presence of the Infant Jesus among us, the beauty of communion and unity. At the end, we shared and enjoyed our Agape. For both Pallottine Sisters` Congregations this gathering was another trail stone of bridge-building among us and of family relationship with one another. We experienced the word: “Rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice”!
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.