Day 50 – February 19

Today’s Readings:

Leviticus 21-22
Mark 1:1-22
Psalm 50

“Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.”  – Mark 1:30-31

Today we read the first recorded miracle in the gospel of Mark – Jesus dispels an unclean spirit. After leaving the synagogue, the scene shifts to Simon’s house where his mother-in-law is in bed with a fever. Perhaps Jesus had gone there for a break, a time for prayer and food. But no sooner than entering the home, he is told about the sick woman, and heals her of her fever.

The scene tells us something about the disciples. They haven’t been following Jesus for very long, yet, they have already made a habit of sharing their inmost hearts and concerns with him. They show the makings of trust and relationship with Jesus. And Jesus responds with a readiness, a genuine interest to take care of their needs.

Do we approach Jesus with our needs with such simplicity? Wanting to talk with Him as we would our best friend? There is no special formula of prayer necessary to get Jesus’ attention; He simply tells us to come to Him with the faith of a child (Matthew 18:3).

Let us ask for the gift of such a relationship with Jesus, inviting Him to be part of our daily – hourly lives! He desires to be the friend that responds to our every word and request with genuine love and interest in our daily struggles.

May God bless you!

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Day 49 – February 18

Today’s Readings:

Leviticus 19-20
Mark 1:1-22
Psalm 49

John … proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit.”  – Mark 1:6-8

Mark’s gospel, while the shortest of the three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), is a fast-paced telling of Jesus’s life. We know it is the earliest of the three, and the most detailed in the little things that give life to the words on the page. It gives intimate details that scholars attribute to Peter’s telling and Mark’s attentive listening. Such details, like when Jesus places a child in their midst, he lovingly places his arms around the child; or describing he had a pillow under his head while asleep in the stern of the boat, make us ponder what it might have been like to be Mark, listening to Peter recount his time with Jesus. As we read, keep imagining you are sitting with Mark listening to Peter preaching, and in our reading in the coming days, we are retelling the story we’ve already heard, letting it take hold anew in our hearts.

And so we begin this Gospel quickly, almost setting out at a jogging pace – John the Baptist is quickly introduced, followed by Jesus coming to him to be baptized. Jesus is driven into the desert by the Holy Spirit and is tempted by Satan for forty days. Only after a time of testing in the desert does Jesus begin his public ministry, choosing his disciples and began teaching in the synagogue.

Quite a lot in 22 verses! The cornerstone of it all is Jesus’ baptism. Jesus, being the Son of God, did not need John’s baptism of repentance, but Jesus allowed himself to be baptized. According to Jewish tradition, baptism was for converts to Judaism. The person who converted to the Jewish faith had three things they had to undergo: 1) circumcision; 2) a sacrifice of an animal’s blood for atonement; and 3) he would have a baptism of repentance, a cleansing of his past life. But what John was doing was radical – he was baptizing Jews, who did not need to submit to baptism. He understood that one could belong to God by family line, but that they needed to have a change of heart and choose to live for God. The baptism of repentance he offered was one of preparing the Jewish nation for the acceptance of Christ.

Many Christians today identify themselves as such because they were raised in that tradition. But John the Baptist shows us, we have to come to a point where we choose to belong to God. We may have been baptized as infants, exposing us to many graces through the gentle presence of the Holy Spirit we received; it is up to us as we mature to embrace the faith we inherited and turn to God and affirm what began in our youth.

How do we do this? Our first step is to acknowledge who we are in truth, to call out the parts of us that are not of God. Secondly, we must make right our wrongs in our relationships with others. Thirdly, we must turn to God. Renewing our relationship with God through the grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). This is our John the Baptist moment, being before the priest and confessing our sins and admitting our need for God’s mercy, restores us to our baptismal innocence.

Jesus wanted to be like us in all ways but sin that he allowed himself to be baptized and subjected to temptation. But he also guides us to see how we are called through our redemption, to glorify him in sharing the message of grace we have received through his blood on the cross.

May God bless you!

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Day 48 – February 17

Today’s Readings:

Leviticus 17-18
Matthew 28
Psalm 48

Jesus said to them, “Fear not! Go tell my brothers to go away into Galilee, and there they will see me.”   – Matthew 28:10

Those that were with Jesus at the Cross are the first to be witnesses of His resurrection. As they approach the tomb, and seeing the angel, they must have sensed they were before a great mystery. Perhaps such a sign (angel) was needed because who could have believed the truth of the Resurrection? It would seem too good to be possible!

As the truth began to sink in, they are in a sense commissioned to be the first evangelizers. To do so they had to come to grips with what they believed.

Their belief, however, was not enough. More was required of them, as they were asked share with others, to “Go tell” others the good news, with joy in their hearts!

Let us too, who have come to believe, imitate the first followers, that we too will believe – share – and rejoice.

May God bless you!

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Day 47 – February 16

Today’s Readings:

Leviticus 15-16
Matthew 27:51-66
Psalm 47

“Truly, this man was the Son of God.”   – Matthew 37:54

As the Centurion stood at the foot of the Cross, he came to belief in Jesus. We are reminded of Jesus’ words found in John 12:32: He foretold of this day when he said,

“…when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

Jesus was lifted up from the earth and hung on the Cross. The Centurion was at the Cross not because of believe but because of his military assignment. And God drew him into the mystery, giving him faith in Jesus through the  powerful sign of the Cross.

When you look at the Cross, are you drawn in to the Mystery? We too have the opportunity, like the Centurion, to come to the Cross and be drawn to Jesus. Let us make time to enter into the mystery and be bathed in His loving embrace – the Greatest Love man can know.

May God bless you!

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Day 46 – February 15

Today’s Readings:

Leviticus 13-14
Matthew 27:27-50
Psalm 46

“And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”…Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit.”   – Matthew 27:46,50

All three of the synoptic gospels record these last words of Jesus. In the Gospel of John, the last words recorded are “It is finished”. Three small words in the English language; but in Greek it is one word – Tetelestai. It is a word used for one who has struggled through a very difficult task, passing from the darkness of that struggle to the light of victory. It is a shout of triumph!

This is a great lesson for us who follow Jesus. The saints such as St John of the Cross knew well this valley of darkness, of walking without any consolation, waiting patiently for the light to dawn. And, when the dawn finally sheds light on their struggle and they were found faithful to the end – Victory! Tetelestai!

Earlier in this very Gospel (Matthew 24:10-13) we read of the call to persevere with Christ:

“And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.

Let us remain faithful then, to the end, that with Jesus we too will shout, Tetelestai! Victory!

May God bless you!

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