Day 52 – February 21

Today’s Readings:

Leviticus 25-27
Mark 3:1-19
Psalm 52

Then Jesus said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent.   – Mark 3:4

The man that Jesus called forward was, according to some scholars, possibly a stone mason, and his injury was one caused by accident from his professional trade. In his current state, his livelihood was gone and could have been reduced to beg, if not for Jesus.

The Pharisees are watching Jesus. Others came to the synagogue to listen to Jesus and learn from him. And the Pharisees? What was their motive? They were watching him for a reason to accuse him.

As Jesus entered the synagogue, He noticed the man with the shriveled arm, and the Pharisees looking on. He knew that to heal the man who was not mortally wounded would break the law regarding rest on the Sabbath, as we read in Leviticus today. He makes a decision, calls the man forward where he would be noticed by all, and poses a two-part question:

First – is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil?
The Pharisees would have to affirm that it is lawful to do good to another on the sabbath. To do evil would be unthinkable.

Second – is it lawful to save life rather than to destroy it?
The Pharisees are trapped. They know that, although the man’s wounded hand is not a life-threatening injury that could wait until the next day, it has threatened the man’s livelihood. Knowing Jesus wants to do good would restore life to the man, in a sense. The Pharisees would also be very aware of the thoughts in their own minds; they who sought a way to bring Jesus’ life to an end.

With the restoration of the man’s hand, Jesus not only does good on the sabbath, but he saves the man’s life by restoring his capacity to earn a living. The Pharisees were silenced because they were plotting how to get rid of Jesus, to destroy life.

What else is surprising is, after the healing could not the Pharisees see that Jesus was the real deal? Were their hearts so hardened that could not believe?

Let us ask the Lord to give us open hearts to see his working in our lives, and turn to him and follow his example of charity and mercy.

May God bless you!

cb365

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Day 45 – February 14

Today’s Readings:

Leviticus 11-12
Matthew 27:1-26
Psalm 45

“Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?” But he did not answer him one word, so that the governor was greatly amazed.”   – Matthew 27:13-14

Pilate was not known to be a pushover. He governed over the Israelites with a lack of cultural sensitivity and a healthy dose of arrogance. When Jesus was brought before him, he saw the annoyance of the Jewish leadership only looking to eliminate an inconvenience. In movies and commentaries, Pilate is often portrayed as one stuck between a rock and a hard place, wanting to avoid spilling this man’s blood.

Strange no? A man who had a whole village – Tirabatha -slaughtered later on, had misgivings about putting a carpenter to death? That is, unless Pilate had an encounter.

Is it possible that during Pilate’s inquiry with Jesus, he had a glimpse of who was really standing before him?

He hesitated. Perhaps he trembled slightly. and he too pondered, “is this more than an ordinary man before me?” Was Pilate touched somehow by Jesus’ power?

Let us take time today to ponder the power of Jesus dwelling in us, and be in awe of His Majesty cloaked in humility.

May God bless you!

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Day 37 – February 6

Today’s Readings:

Exodus 31-33
Matthew 23:23-39
Psalm 37

“…you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters…” – Matthew 23:23

The Pharisees were meticulous in keeping the law to the minutest degree. For them to bother to tithe their kitchen herbs – it would have been only a small clump, since it wasn’t a crop that you would have copious amounts of – it shows how much they measured their outward displays of faithfulness. Jesus makes the point, not that they did these things but that they paid too much attention to them, at the expense of other things left unattended to.

It could be like a person who throws himself into helping at Church, but fails to help his own son with his homework. Or one who is comes to the Sacraments with a good attitude and reverence, but then is disrespectful towards her co-workers. They have lost their sense of right order, or proportion.

Let us take account today in our lives, of the things we invest ourselves in. Do they really matter? Or are we getting wrapped up in only the superfluous and letting the things that really matter pass us by?

May God bless you!

 

Day 36 – February 5

Today’s Readings:

Exodus 29-30
Matthew 23:1-22
Psalm 36

“He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted..” – Matthew 23:11-12

Today we continue to see Jesus at odds with the Pharisees and Scribes, so it might help us to better understand them from their own Talmud, which describes seven kinds of Pharisees*:

  1. The Shoulder Pharisee wore his good deeds on his shoulder, to build up his reputation for purity and goodness (did good to be seen).
  2. Wait-a-little Pharisee found reasons to delay his good deeds (he spoke well on serving, but did not do).
  3. Bruising or Bleeding Pharisee would bump into walls due to covering their eyes lest they see a woman in public as a way of raising their esteem for piety.
  4. Pestle and Mortar Pharisee had the appearance of one bent over in humility. It was self-advertising ostentation.
  5. Ever-reckoning Pharisee will keep score on his good deeds so to put God in debt (sort of like in the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector in the temple to pray).
  6. Timid or Fearing Pharisee is in dread of divine punishment, worried about the outside of his cup  and plate, so he will seem good. He views religion in terms of judgment.
  7. God-fearing Pharisee is one who really and truly loves God and is loyal to His commands.

Six bad kinds to one good kind. The Pharisees listening to Jesus’ scathing observation about themselves couldn’t help themselves from agreeing  with his denunciation.

And you? Where do you fall in this list? Would Jesus denounce you? How would you respond?

Let us pray, that we may be genuine in seeking the will of God, with awe and reverence, and like the God-fearing Pharisee do all things out of love.

May God bless you!

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* The seven kinds of Pharisees is taken from The Daily Study Bible, The Gospel of Matthew, W. Barclay, Vol. 2, pg. 283-284.

Day 17 – January 17

Today’s Readings:

Genesis 33-35
Matthew 12:1-23
Psalm 17

And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath?” so that they might accuse him.

The Pharisees were looking for ways to trap Jesus so they might have reason to put Him to death. When the moment presents itself they pose their question to Jesus and watch. They want to catch him in the act of…what exactly? Of restoring a person to wholeness? Showing mercy? This phenomenal healing by Jesus didn’t even register with the Pharisees, their eyes were too fixed upon finding fault to condemn him that they miss the working of God in their midst.

Sometimes we can be like the Pharisees and miss the point of God working in our lives as we settle for the rules. Now rules in themselves are good, but when we are so stringent in our observance that we don’t see the needs of those around us, we may need to readjust our focus, with lenses of compassion and mercy.

Let us ask the Lord to assist us today, to see the needs around us and to act with compassion and mercy, like Jesus.

May God bless you!