Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Faith Not Fear

January 31, 2012

Memorial of St. John Bosco

Beth DeCristofaro

(The woman with the hemorrhage) fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction." Jesus said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." (Mark 5:34, 36)


Have mercy on me, O Lord, for to you I call all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. (Psalm 86:3-4)


Not long ago I prayed for something very specific which for a long time I had resisted praying for. Why? I told myself it was selfish and that God didn’t really need to spend time on such trivial things. After all, I have many blessings already in my life. But I finally broke down my own wall of pride and just asked. In essence, I went to my knees, acknowledging the need within me. Christ asks me to “Just have faith” rather than to vet the appropriateness of the request.

Yes, much to my surprise and delight, I was answered and not at all in the way I expected. The two people in today’s Gospel had requests of God which were much dearer to their hearts – indeed to their lives – than mine. Each received an answer that they did not expect. Each encountered a loving, gentle and wildly generous God.

A part of my answer was to again be given the gift of humility. I am the Lord’s; I do not write my life's story on my own. I was struck that God answered me in His own way not in my limited way. Part of faith is being open to God’s answers for my life's story.


In death and in life we are the Lord’s. What have you resisted asking of Jesus because you lack faith or want to save Jesus the trouble or you are afraid of encountering the Lord face to face? “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”

Monday, January 30, 2012


January 30, 2012

Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Perhaps the LORD will look upon my affliction and make it up to me with benefits for the curses he is uttering this day." David and his men continued on the road, while Shimei kept abreast of them on the hillside, all the while cursing and throwing stones and dirt as he went. 2 Samuel 16:12-13

As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead, "Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you." Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed. Mark 5:18-20


Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host - by the Divine Power of God - cast into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.


At Mass Sunday, Fr. Barkett was addressing an overview of the Gospel of Mark. He explained that Mark's stories show Jesus ready to "pick a fight" with the powers in the world, especially the powers of sin. So today, in this corner, we have Jesus of Nazareth. And in the other corner, we have Legion, possessing the man and making him appear to have demonic possession.

Based on the patterns of stories we have already seen from Mark, we know the basic outline. Jesus takes them on and wins. But the lesson for us may once again lie in the reactions of the people around. Some embrace Jesus and want him to stay while others want him to leave their town as soon as possible. Some continue to be amazed at his actions while others are not yet ready to embrace the miracles happening right before their eyes.


How will we react to the miracles of Jesus today? Will be stand ready to "pick a fight" with the tensions in the world? Or will we turn our backs and eyes away hoping that Jesus will not ask us to do what he does -- pick up our cross (daily) and follow him?

We know how the Lord will look upon our afflictions. The Lord will make it up with the benefits of pity, love and with his healing touch, glance or challenging words. How will we respond to that encounter?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A New Teaching With Authority

January 29, 2012

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time B 2012

By Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it.
Deuteronomy 18:18-19

Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties.
1 Corinthians 7:32

In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are the Holy One of God!" Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!"
Mark 1:23-25


Our piety is the fullness of how we honor God with our whole being. It answers the question of how well do we love the Lord our God with our mind, heart and soul. Am I all there for the Lord? Am I giving the Lord all of myself? Do I speak all and only what the Lord has given me to speak. We are all called to be prophets for the Lord. The prophet speaks clearly what is wrong in our world. The prophet gets ahead of the foolish crowd and suffers for speaking the Word of the Lord. Our piety is the word the Lord puts into us that is spoken with all that we are, mind body and soul, to those the Lord wants to hear him through us. Our piety speaks to our entire world through all that we are in the name of the Lord.


Our Spiritual Exercises are the most profound study we are capable of to discern what the Lord is asking of us. Family, friends and associates can crowd the focus of our hearts. Study allows us to follow the Lord and to adhere to him without distraction. Christ is the perfect answer to the question of what is important. Christ is the God answer to the question of what is the meaning of life. How the prophets would have loved to have heard Christ. Study gives us the possibility of hearing Christ with all our mind and heart. Created to the image and likeness of God in Christ, we have in his love the answer to the question of life. Our study reveals to us what we should be doing with our lives. “The people who sit in darkness” see a great light in Christ.


There are many gifts of the Lord. But there is only one giver of the gifts we have, the Lord. What we will do for Christ is determined by the needs of his people. How we use our gifts for one another is how the kingdom of God is built up. Christ spoke with authority to drive out the evil spirits. The wealth of our experiences becomes the voice of the Lord in our hearts calling us to do what we can to make a better world. Our actions have a divine meaning when we do what we can for one another in the name of Christ. Our actions make it possible for us to say: “When you see me, you see Christ.” Our actions become prayer when we do them in the name of Christ. Our connection with Christ gives us the authority of Christ to drive out the devils of selfishness from our world. We need to make it possible for our world to say: “See how those Christians love one another.”

Be Still

January 28, 2012

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church

Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm. Mark 4:38-38


Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.


Be still.

Be still and know.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)


Mark has already given us ample examples of Jesus overcoming demon spirits and illness. Today, we see further evidence that Jesus, in His divine nature, can even command the nature of the winds and seas. These too are powerless to disobey in his presence. They have no choice but to follow his Word. We humans on the other hand have one gift that nature lacks -- free will.

Mark's stories about Jesus and the ministry in Galilee show the varied reactions that people had during these close moments with the Lord. Many -- but not all -- followed Jesus such that the crowds were too large to be contained on hillsides, seashores or buildings. Those who followed used their freedom to choose to become disciples and believers. However, the rest still had to overcome their own obstacles along the way.

In today's story, Jesus commanded the seas to be still. However, the men in the boat were still agitated. Although the storm no longer was cause for concern, they were still concerned and disturbed trying to rationalize who this man among them was that he exerted such power over nature.


What storms, demons or mountains are ahead on your faith journey?

The Psalmist suggestion to "Be still" is not one only for those joining contemplative orders like the Carmelites and Trappists. All of us can take heed to be still a little more in our life.

How many of us hurtle down the roads faster than posted speed limits in three thousand pound hunks of steel, glass and petroleum? We do that while talking on our mobile phones, eating a Big Mac and fiddling with the buttons on the radio or GPS. No matter what we are doing, we always try to be human multi-tasking computers or robots. When we fail to pay careful attention to the task at hand, we risk accident, injury or worse to ourselves and those around us. Do you know or care that we are perishing under the stress of all these demands?

Many things cause us to rush around. Deadlines. The illness of a child or other loved one. Economic hardship. Problems at work or at school. Family tension. Fill in your stressor. There are many roots in the world that agitate us these days. They will not go away miraculously. However, let us take a lesson from the men in the boat. When they were tossed around, they put their concerns in Jesus' capable hands. We can do the same.

Try using today's Good News to slow down a little and notice the beautiful interlude of spring weather tucked into the middle of the winter season. Get out of your car and walk someplace. Hopefully, whatever little hills you climb exercising will help prepare you for the spring -- it is as sure to come as the Ground Hog prediction next week.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

As They Were Able to Understand It

January 27, 2012

Third Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

So while Joab was besieging the city, (David) assigned Uriah to a place where he knew the defenders were strong. When the men of the city made a sortie against Joab, some officers of David's army fell, and among them Uriah the Hittite died. (2 Samuel 11:16-17)

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned. (Psalms 51:3)

(Jesus said to the people), “To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade." With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. (Mark 4:30-33)


Lord, thank You for speaking my language.


Sometimes, it’s puzzling. The homily that went on forever, that had you planning your grocery list, kept the person sitting next to you in rapt attention. Or the book on the Eucharist that had you reading slowly and savoring every word just didn’t do it for your spouse. Or the morning devotion you read on a Web site spoke to you in one way, while it had an entirely different meaning for the others in your prayer group.

Isn’t God amazing, the way He provides food in the manner that works for each of us?

Jesus told the people of his day stories, because that’s what resonated with them. He could have stood and expounded on Mosaic law or the Torah, but those he was seeking to save through his death and resurrection were everyday people. They understood seeds and bushes. They could touch and taste them. Later, they would understand the metaphor, that from similar small beginnings would come the comfort and grace of God’s kingdom.

Today, those of us who find this parable easy to find may struggle with others—the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, for example, or that of the prodigal son. That’s all right. With God’s help, we’ll eventually come closer to bringing their message to bear in our lives. In the meantime, let’s give thanks for the ways in which God speaks what we need, when we need it.


What is God saying to you through the parable of the mustard seed? Is there a place in your own life where a bit of faith could help your heart and soul grow and provide shade to others?