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!

cb365

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Day 44 – February 13

Today’s Readings:

Leviticus 8-10
Matthew 26:51-75
Psalm 44

“Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away.” At that he began to curse and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly.”   – Matthew 26:73-75

What great shame Peter must have felt after the thrice-denial of Jesus. How, when he ran off into the night to weep, he could have said to himself, “No one needs to know about this incident; it will scandalize others.” And that would have been it. It could have died with Peter, but his weakest moment lives on with us because he himself gave testimony to the Christian community about it.

It sets an important and encouraging lesson for all of us.

We all deny Jesus in one way or another through our sin. What Peter teaches us, that if he in his denial could find peace and forgiveness through Jesus, God must be a good, loving and forgiving God. Let us turn to the Lord then, confess our wrong doing, and find ourselves embraced anew by God’s love.

In other words, Peter’s testimony of his greatest shame (his denial) became God’s greatest glory (Mercy).

May God bless you!

cb365

Day 21 – January 21

Today’s Readings:

Genesis 43-45
Matthew 14:1-21
Psalm 20

In the book of Genesis today, we learn a valuable lesson about God and how he uses human tragedy for his design. Joseph, the son of Israel (Jacob) and Rachel was sold into slavery by his brothers due to jealousy. Many years pass, his family assumes he is probably dead, when his brothers come to Egypt looking for food. When Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers, he comforts them from their fear. He tells them, “…do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life…God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God.”

We see in Joseph the attitude of one whose heart is set on God alone. He finds strength and endurance in faith. This attitude gives him the strength to accept hardships with faith. This acceptance that God allowed it for a reason, opens his heart to forgive his brothers wholeheartedly.

Let us ask the Lord to grant us a faith like Joseph in the face of hardship, to see beyond the moment and trust that God has this in his control.

May God bless you!

Day 9 – January 9

Today’s Readings:

Genesis 17-18
Matthew 7
Psalm 9

Abraham had just heard that God intended to destroy all the residents living in Sodom because of their wickedness. And as the two other men departed toward the city to destroy it, Abraham approaches the third (God) to ask for the lives of those in the city. He poses his question to God, “will you indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty … forty-five … forty … thirty … twenty … ten righteous people there?”

Would God spare the town for the sake of ten righteous people? This language should sound familiar for those of you who were with us on Day 3 and Day 4, where in the story of Noah and the flood, Noah was the righteous one for whose sake God spared the human race. At the same time, in today’s story, we are learning a lesson about the communicable effects of sin; sin has an impact on the whole community. Although it may seem that behind closed doors our sin in private; in reality, its consequences shadow the whole community, and there is need for cleansing, to repair the breach. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance), we are given the opportunity to receive spiritual healing from our sin, and makes it possible to also heal the wound of community.

May God bless you!

 

Day 178 – June 27

Today’s Readings:

2 Chronicles 5-6
Acts 8:26-40
Job 22

“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, and they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin when You afflict them; 27 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and Your people Israel…” – 2 Chronicles 6:26-27

Notation: in the audio, King David is mentioned as the one praying for the people; it is in fact his son, King Solomon, in the dedication of the temple.

May God bless you.