Thoughts To Live By…

Posts Tagged ‘Gospel of Mark

Mk 14:12-16, 22-26 – The Lord’s Supper
Solemnity of Body and Blood of Christ
Sunday Gospel Reflection

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Corpus Christi. “Corpus Christi” are two Latin words for “Body of Christ.” This great feast is in honor of the Real Presence of the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic species of bread and wine.

St. Bonaventure reminds us of its meritorious effect when we celebrate and explicitly confess our belief on the Eucharist: “There is no difficulty about Christ’s presence in the Eucharist as in a sign, but that He is truly present in the Eucharist as He is in heaven, this is most difficult. Therefore to believe this is especially meritorious.”[ 7. In. IV Sent. Dist. X. P. I Art. Un. Qu. I, Oper. Omn. Tom. IV Ad Claras Acquas 1889, p. 217]

As we celebrate this Solemnity of the Corpus Christi we are reminded of the following:

First, the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligations. This is the first of the precepts of the Church in which every Catholic ought to fulfill to the least to be considered practicing Christian. The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation”) requires the faithful to participate in the Eucharistic celebration when the Christian community gathers on the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord” (Cf. CIC, cann. 1246-1248; CCEO, can. 881 par.1, par. 2, and 4).

In the Philippines the holy days of obligations are: Christmas Day (December 25), Motherhood of Mary (January 1), and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (December 8).

Essentially connected to this obligation is our active, full and conscious participation in the celebration of Eucharist. When we are absent-minded or our focus is disintegrated our participation is questionable. When we do not know what we say and what we do during the mass our participation is not conscious. When we do not participate in all the responses and community singing during Mass our participation is not active and full. When we go to the Church for reasons other than to take part in the celebration of the Mass then our motivation and participation are questionable.

Second, to receive the sacred body and blood of Jesus Christ every time we attend Mass or at least once a year especially during Easter. This is also one of the precepts of the Church. “The Mass is a sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. And it is because of this that even the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us” (see cf. CCC 1382).

During the consecration where the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, he invites and urges us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you ( see Jn 6:53). “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him (Jn 6:57).

In the Eucharist “is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself our Pasch and the living bread which gives life to men through his flesh – that flesh which is given life and gives life through the Holy Spirit. Thus men are invited and led to offer themselves, their works and all creation with Christ …” (Presbyterorum ordinis, n. 5). For the bread of life to sustain life, it must be sought, approached, taken, broken, and eaten. Likewise Jesus must be invited into our lives if we are to enjoy the well being he brings.

Third, to receive worthily the sacred body and blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. St. Paul St. Paul urge us to examine our conscience before coming to confession to avoid the sin of sacrilege: ”Whoever, therefore, eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the body and blood of the Lord. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Cor 11:27-29).

To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves by receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion when conscious of grave sin (cf. CCC 1385) by observing the fast required in the Church (cf. CIC, can. 919) and by bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) that convey the respect, solemnity and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.

Before so great a sacrament, let us echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion:” Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed” (cf. Mt 8:8). And pray, that through Christ, the Mediator, we may be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other so that finally God may be all in all” (see cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 48).

Mk 9:2-10 –  The Transfiguration of Jesus
Second Sunday of Lent
Sunday Gospel Reflection

In today’s gospel’s account, Jesus who took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves “was transfigured before their eyes, and His clothes became dazzlingly white – whiter than the work of any bleacher could make them” (Mk 9:2-3). At the Transfiguration, Jesus’ face was no longer emptied (see Phil 2:7) of His divine glory. His face was clearly recognizable as the face of God.

From the day Peter confessed that is Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Master “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things…and be killed, and on the third day be raised (Mt 16:21). Peter scorns this prediction, nor do the others understand it any better than he (Cf. Mt 16:22-23; Mt 17:23; Lk 9:45). In this context the mysterious episode of Jesus’ transfiguration takes place on a high mountain (Cf. Mt 17:1-8 and parallels; 2 Pt 1:16-18), before three witnesses chosen by himself: Peter, James and John. Jesus face and clothes become dazzling with light, and Moses and Elijah appear, speaking “of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Lk 9:31). A cloud covers him and a voice from heaven says: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him” (Lk 9:35) (CCC 554)!

For a moment Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter’s confession. He also reveals that he will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in order to “enter into his glory” (Lk 24:26). Why?  Because this is His Father’s will and as a Beloved Son in order to please the Father he is to serve and obey Him (see cf. Is 42:1). On this event, “the whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud” St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 45, 4, ad 2).

What are the meanings and significance of the Lord’s Transfiguration that we read this gospel two times a year: on the 2nd Sunday of Lent and on August 6th?

First, Jesus revealed his splendor and glory as the beloved Son of God to his disciples to strengthen them for the scandal of the Cross. “The Gospels report that at two solemn moments, the Baptism and the TRANSFIGURATION OF Christ, the voice OF the Father designates JESUS his ‘beloved Son’.[Cf. Mt 3:17 ; cf. Mt 17:5 .] JESUS calls himself the ‘only Son OF God’, and by this title affirms his eternal pre-existence.[Jn 3:16 ; cf. Jn 10:36 .] He asks for faith in ‘the name OF the only Son OF God’.[Jn 3:18 .] In the centurion’s exclamation before the crucified Christ, ‘Truly this man was the Son of  God’, [Mk 15:39 .] that Christian confession is already heard. Only in the Paschal mystery can the believer give the title ‘Son of God’ its full meaning” (CCC 444).

Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited him in Jerusalem – his betrayal, rejection and crucifixion. This will definitely scandalize his apostles. Hence, the need to reveal to his disciples his divine splendor and glory to strengthen them when that moment of crucifixion and death comes.

Second, “The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:21). “His glory shone from a body like our own, to show that the Church , which is the body of Christ would one day  share his glory  (see Preface of the Transfiguration). But it also recalls that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

Third, “The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.’ ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. ‘[Mt 11:29 ; Jn 14:6 .] On the mountain of the transfiguration, the Father commands: ‘Listen to him!’ [Mk 9:7 ; cf. Dt 6:4-5 .] Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm OF the new law: ‘Love one another as I have loved you. ‘[Jn 15:12 .] This love implies an effective offering OF oneself, after his example. [Cf. Mk 8:34 .] (CCC 459)”

Jesus possesses the glory, a manifestation of divinity, because He is God, equal to the Father. Hence he is entitled to all our reverence, worship, praise, petition, obedience of faith and love. He, like the father, has to be glorified too.

Friends, for you and your salvation “you have been purchased by Jesus, and at a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:20). How?

  • by your offering your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God as your spiritual worship (see Rm 12:1);
  • by your good works and practice of virtues. “People, in seeing your good works [and virtues], give glory to God our Father who is in heaven (see Mt 5:16);
  • by your life of total dedication and consecration to God. “Use all that is in you, as if it were his own, for the service and glory of the Father” (St. John Eudes, Tract. De admirabili corder Jesu 1, 5). “Whatever you do, either you eat or drink, do it for the glory of God.”

“The glory of God is a man fully human, fully alive!” (St. Ireneus).

Picture: http://www.flickr.com

Mk 1:12-15 – The Temptation of Jesus
Sunday Gospel Reflection

The longing and  desire for heaven  or the single indestructible longing for God, for an eternity spent in intimate, blessed communion with him is the deepest desire of human heart. Heaven is “the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (CCC 1024). This is always what we pray for, what we strive for, what we hope for. But there were and will always be temptations, trials and tests on the way that will prevent us, hinder us and steal away from us the heaven that we long for.

The Gospel for today tells of Jesus’ retreat and temptation in the desert and the beginning of his preaching of God’s good news. Today’s Gospel simply tells of Satan tempting Jesus. But Jesus passed the test and overcame the test and temptation.

What is temptation? A temptation is anything than inclines a person to commit sin. It is enticement to evil, seduction to sin and death. Though it is not a sin it is more than trial or test because it lead us to sin. Once we enter into, give in to and submit to, temptation we are already committing sin which will bring us alienation, corruption, death and ultimately hell where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

What distinguishes temptation from trial? Trials or tests are necessary for growth while temptations incline us to sin. “No one who is tempted is free to say, “I am being tempted by God.” Surely God, who is beyond the grasp of evil, tempts no one” (Jas 1:13). God tests the heart puts his own in trial (1Th 2, 4) while only Satan tempts them (Lk 22,37; Ap 2, 10; 12,9). Trial is indispensable condition for growth (cf. Lk 8, 13ff), for sturdiness (1 P 1, 6f), for the manifestation of the truth (1 Co 11, 9: the reason for Christian divisions) and humility (1 Co 10, 12). When we overcome trials, temptations we are proven to be steady and strong (subok na matatag at subok na matibay. Thus freed, tried and tested Christian knows how to discern, verify and “try” everything (R 12, 2; E 5, 10). Trial is therefore the condition of the Church which is still to be tested, although she is already pure; stll to be reformed, although she is already glorious.

St. Paul assures us that “God will not let you be tested beyond your strength. Along with the test he will give you a way out of it so that you may be able to endure it” ( 1 Cor 10:13; cf. CCC 2848). In fact St. Paul wrote that we should even boast of our tests/afflictions, knowing that afflictions produce endurance, and endurance, proven virtue (cf. Rom 5:3-5; CCC 2897).

Sources of temptations:

  • Some temptations arise from within ourselves. “The tug and lure of his own passion has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches maturity it begets death” (cf. Jas 1:14).
    • Our passions and emotions incline us to long for attractive gratifications even through doing acts we know are evil.
    • Pride incline us to sin.
    • Imperfection of our very nature are sources of sin more particularly concupiscence and bad habits or vices.
  • We also experience temptations from the world. Persons, places and things can be occasion of sins to us. Even things good in themselves can be incitements in us to seek the attractive goods in unreasonable ways.
  • Faith also recognizes Satan, once an angel, but now hostile to God and to us, as one source of temptation. In his hatred for God, he seeks to drive us toward sinful and self-destructive choices (CCC 394-395).

Consequence of being tempted: slavery to sin, alienation and separation, death and ultimately hell where Satan dwells and where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

How do we handle with temptations?

  • Avoid temptations and keep yourself busy. Idleness is the workshop of the devil.
  • Resistance, faith and vigilance. Stay sober and alert because your enemy the Devil is like a prowling lion, waiting for someone to devour. Resist him and solid in your faith.
  • Prayer. In communion with their master, the disciples’ prayer is a battle; “only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation” ( cf. Lk 22:40, 46). “Pray that he will not let you be tested beyond your strength” (cf. 1 Cor 10:13). Pray that the Father “lead us not into temptations and allow us to be overcome by it (cf. CCC 2846). Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy…Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.
  • Repentance and conversion. Always return to the Lord with fasting, weeping and mourning. For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment.
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Always seek in everything the will of God. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.

Temptations are not themselves sins and no one entirely escape temptation. Hence, be vigilant and pray that God our Father may “lead us not into temptation” or allow us to be overcome by it and “seek it with all our hearts His sufficient grace to overcome temptation and to remain faithful to God (cf. CCC 2848).

Picture: http://www.padrebergamaschi.com/Pets/images/Temptation.jpg

January 25, 2009
Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul
Mk 16:15-18

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. This is given special importance this Sunday since it coincides with our celebration of the Bi-millennium of the  Apostle’s  birth. Paul, also known as Saul, was born in Tarsus in the early first century A.D. Saul was not a sinner who got converted. He was a faithful Jew, a Pharisee, a true disciple of the Law and to defend the faith he persecuted the  early followers of the Way (Christian).

It was only when he encountered Jesus on his way to Damascus that Paul was totally changed. After his personal encounter with Jesus who identified himself with the Christians whom he persecuted Paul was never been the same. He was converted into Christianity.  He became an Apostle of Jesus Christ and particularly, the Apostle to the Gentiles. Although he was not one among the original Twelve Apostles, St. Paul was conscious of what is ‘to be an apostle by vocation’ – i.e, not by self-choice and neither by human appointment, but rather exclusively by one’s calling and divine election (Pope Benedict XVI). With apostolic zeal, he faced the challenges of travel, cultures, imprisonment, and beatings; of shipwrecks and sleepless nights, of magic and philosophies. At the end, St. Paul he gave his life as a last and lasting witness to his deep and living faith in Jesus and his Body, the Church.

St. Paul in his Letter to Timothy once spoke about the universality of salvation when he wrote: “God wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4). What does universality of salvation mean? What is its implication? The late Pope John Paul II addressed these two questions when he wrote:   “The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all it must be made concretely available to all” (RM 9).

This explains why Jesus started his public ministry not only by calling his disciples to repentance, baptism and faith but also by calling and choosing group of disciples to be with him whom he named apostles so that later on he cound send them on a mission. What mission? Mission to evangelize. Mission to proclaim Jesus and his message of salvation. Mission to build and spread the Church. Mission to spread the reign of God here on earth until it is perfected in the Kingdom of heaven. Mission to teach, to sanctify, to govern and lead the  people to God, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, and the  Origin and our Destiny.

As we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and the Bi-millennium of the Apostle’s birth, we are reminded of the mission entrusted by Christ to the Church, to the Apostles, to the Baptized and to all members of Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church. In fact, the universal missionary task involves not only these chosen members of the Church, but all the baptized, each according to his or her individual vocation. “No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples” (Redemptoris missio, n. 3). By evangelizing the nations, the Church fulfills her own vocation, because she exists in order to evangelize (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14).

The Lord’s call to proclaim the Good News is still valid today: indeed it is ever more urgent. The call to mission acquires a singular urgency, particularly if we look at that part of humanity which still does not know Christ or recognize Him. Like Paul, we are cursed if we do not preach the Gospel. Proclaim, therefore, Christ and his Gospel in season and out of season!   [Pope John Paul II, 75th Anniversary of the World Mission Sunday]

Picture: Wikipedia

Useful Site:

Sunday Gospel Reflection: Mk 1:7-11
Feast of the Lord’s Baptism

One time three pastors were discussing about bat infestation in their churches. “I got so mad,” said one, “I took a shotgun and fired at them. Some got killed but the majority are still up there.” “I tried pesticide spray,” said the second pastor, “but those damn bats gave birth to new ones.” “I haven’t had any more problems,” said the third pastor.”What did you do?” asked the interested two. “I simply baptized them,” he replied. “I haven’t seen them in church since!”

Indeed, like those bats, after baptism many Christians are never seen in church again. This is what the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines called “unchurched.” “Unchurched” has three categories:

First, the “nominal catholics.” These refer to the catholics in name only or the so-called KBL (Kasal, Binyag, Libing) Christians. Or, as one Bishop described it: Katolikong nakaalala lamang sa Dios tuwing panahon ng Kulog at kidlat, Baha at bagyo, Lahar at lindol. Or, as someone put it, Christians who come to church only three times in their whole lifetime – when they are “hatched, (in Baptsm) matched (in Marriage), dispatched (in Funeral Rite)” … to the cemetery or memorial garden.

Second, the “uninformed and unformed faithful.” These refer to that many baptized Catholic Christians who grow up grossly ignorant of religious instructions and their obligations as Christians and were not formed by Christian values and virtues.

Third, the”uninterested parishioners.” These refer to the majority of Christian parishioners who are indifferent, lukewarm and uninvolved to the mission and goals of the parish. In particular, uninterested to get involved with any program, project and activity of the parish.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus is baptized not because he is a sinner but because he wants to be in solidarity with us especially in our journey towards the Kingdom of God. That he is with us and is one of us. Furthermore, the baptism of Jesus is more of  a revelation of who he is and what his mission should be. As William Barclay writes: “So in the baptism there came to Jesus two certainties–the certainty that he was indeed the chosen One of God, and the certainty that the way in front of him was the way of the Cross.”

As we celebrate this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord we are reminded of the necessity of baptism in relation to our salvation and the mission entrusted to us when we were baptized in the Lord. Is baptism really necessary? Yes, because baptism is or calls us to:

B – bath of rebirth. Original and actual sins are washed away and the baptized becomes a new creation
A – anointing with the Holy Spirit. The baptized, like Jesus, is anointed as priest, prophet and king.
P – erfection of Charity and Fullness of Christian life when it is no longer I who lives in me but Christ.
T – otal dedication and commitment to live the truth of faith in every moment and aspect of life.
I – nterior repentance and conversion toward new life in Christ.
S – eal of salvation. The baptized is sealed with indelible character that he belongs to Christ and marked to be saved.
M – ission to bear fruits of good works, holiness and evangelization.

St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians reminds us that to glorify God is to be “in the church and in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:21). Hence, faith and baptism are joined as preconditions of salvation (Mark 16:16). It is, therefore, fitting and praiseworthy to renew our baptismal promises to love God above all and to reject Satan and all his wickedness.

Useful Articles:

Reflection on Mark 1:44

“It is hard for us today to imagine the awful condition of the leper in New Testament times. He was considered legally dead. But, worse, he was considered morally unclean. Forbidden to enter any walled city-lashed thirty-nine times if he did-he wandered, muffled to the eyes, crying ‘Unclean!’

“Under Jewish law, no one could greet him. Under the law, no one could approach within six feet of the leper-one hundred feet if the wind came from his direction. Any building he entered was considered defiled and had to be purified. The common practice was to throw stones at or run and hide from any leper who approached.

“Such was the man who came to Jesus. What compassion and greatness he must have sensed in the Master to break the law in this manner. And what was the response? Against all law and tradition, Jesus reached out and touched the leper and by His touch cleansed him of his filthiness. By His touch, to save His brother, Jesus descended lower than any man-exactly as He did, later, to save each of us.

“We are that leper, each of us unclean in his own way  each of us is in need of recognition and acceptance and care, each of us is in need of forgiveness and reconciliation each of us crying, ‘If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.’

Think of leprosy-the rotting flesh, the stench, the ingrained horror of physical and ritual contamination that Jesus would have learned from babyhood. Those are powerful physical and emotional barriers to overcome. Jesus not only overcame those barriers enough to be ‘moved with compassion,’ the scripture says, but he ‘put forth his hand, and touched him’ (Mark 1:40-42; italics added). This was not long-distance healing. This was close, intimate, a refusal by the Savior to accept that there was anything in human life, no matter how repulsive it may have been to other people, that he could not transform into cleanliness and wholeness by putting his hand on it.” (Disciples [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 93 – 94.)

Pause and reflect: “For this reason, the great challenges facing the world at the present time, such as globalization, human rights abuses, unjust social structures, cannot be confronted and overcome unless attention is focused on the deepest needs of the human person: the promotion of human dignity, well-being and, in the final analysis, eternal salvation” (Pope Benedict XVI, Christ is Source of Charity)

Useful Poem and Song:

Be Thou Clean

My sins were as scarlet; they were a burden to me.
My eyes were so blinded that I could not see.
Then I heard of Christ dying on Calvary,
And my soul stirred to life deep inside of me.

Chorus:
I wondered if Jesus would have compassion on me.
I asked Him if He was willing, and He said, “Be thou clean.”
“Oh sinner, come unto Me. I am willing; be thou clean.”
I asked Him if He was willing, and He said, “Be thou clean.”

My sins, oh how many, pierced my soul like a dart!
Foul leprosy within seemed to stain every part.
I wondered if it was possible to make a new start,
And then God’s gracious love came and filled my heart.

I was like a black sheep that had wandered astray.
I had rebelled against God and gone my own way.
Then I, in repentance, fell on my knees to pray,
And Christ’s precious blood washed my sins all away.

If you are weighed down by your sin’s constant blame,
Overwhelmed and grieved by the burden of shame,
Take a look at the Saviour; there’s a reason He came,
He died for your sins – hear Him calling your name.

Poem written February 4th/2000
Jerry Bouey


December 2019
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Categories

Blog Stats

  • 320,659 hits