Prayerfully reading the Bible (often called Lectio Divina – Divine Reading) is a powerful way the listen to what God has to say to our lives. Reading a small passage of Scripture we reflect and respond to the Lord by answering three simple questions: What does it say? What does it say to me? What does it make me say?
Tag Archives: Gospel
In the Gospel today the Lord cleanses the temple and then teaches the people. Every time we enter into a church and stand before the Blessed Sacrament in the tablernacle, we encounter the same Risen Lord – body and blood, soul and divinity.
The prophet Isaiah and Jesus both speak of the servant who suffers for others. Once we recognize the value of life we begin to embrace our suffering with the grace of Christ…whose death and resurrection reveal the depth of love God has for us all.
St. Thomas is known for his doubts about the resurrection of Jesus. However, once he saw the Risen Lord he boldly proclaimed “My God and my Lord!” This very real portrait of Thomas inspires us in the midst of our doubts to draw near to Christ and proclaim the Good News in our daily lives.
On this feast of St. Mark we hear the command of the Risen Lord to the Eleven: they are to go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel. May these words inspire us today to share our faith with the people God has placed in our lives.
The Lord commands us to proclaim the Good News through our words and actions as we invite others to encounter God through the Church. This 40 minute presentation is the second part of the Parish Mission given at St. Anthony Abbot Catholic Church on March 12, 2018.
For a copy of the handout that accompanied this presentation, click here: Proclaim the Gospel!
Study: Reflect upon an experience of suffering. How did your faith help you face it?
Pray: Are you or someone you know facing pain or loss? Pray that God gives the grace needed to face it.
Serve: Walking with others on their journey of anguish demands time and attention. Are you being called now to assist someone in need?
Let’s take a look at these readings:
- 1st Reading – Job speaks from his anguish and misery.
- Psalm – “Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.”
- 2nd Reading – Paul states his need to preach the Gospel.
- Gospel – Jesus heals the sick and preaches to the people.
On the surface of these readings we see the obvious – there are times when we encounter suffering. Whether it’s body, mind, heart or soul…most people on more than one occasion are brought low by pain, struggle or loss.
What’s more, there is no “spin” in the Bible. Instead, we repeatedly see in the Scriptures a raw look at the challenges people face without trying to explain away the hardship. It’s almost as if the Word of God seeks to remind us that the journey of life often stops in places of anguish.
We might be tempted to ask the Lord why. We might try to find reasons why a good and almighty God allows it. Such a reaction is normal and typical.
Here’s the problem. Many of the hardships of life have no easy answers or simple explanations. Much of life is a mystery, and many things will not be explained until the day we stand before the Lord when all is revealed.
Suffering by itself serves no purpose, yet we often recognize that there are many times we “suffer” for something greater:
- The athlete who suffers in practice to perform in competition
- The student who suffers in study to perform academically
- The employee who suffers with work to complete a challenging project
- The friend who suffers for a loved one to bring help and comfort
- The parent who suffers for a child to show compassion and care
You get the point. We often embrace suffering because we recognize that there is meaning and purpose in much that is difficult, challenging and hard.
But what about when we don’t understand? One of the most helpful questions I have ever found in the face of suffering is this:
How does my faith help me face this?
For remember, when our lives are focused on the Lord all things – even suffering – fit into a proper perspective. Christ’s suffering on the Cross breaks the bonds of sin and death; Christ’s resurrection shows us that there is something far beyond the realm of pain and loss.
As Jesus healed and preached Good News we call upon our faith to help us face the difficulties of life with strength. Perhaps we will not know why suffering happens, but God will give us the grace to learn how we will face it.
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Study: Recall a time when you made a serious mistake. What steps did you take to make it right? Do you have any unfinished work that needs to be done?
Pray: Saying “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” can be very difficult; don’t try it alone! Ask the Lord for the grace and strength.
Serve: How can you help another on the path to repentance? How might you encourage people to seek healing and forgiveness?
Remember back in elementary school when we all learned long division? Perhaps you remember some of those really long problems that took a whole sheet of paper to write? I recall the excitement when I found the answers at the end of the book, only to have my hopes crushed when the dreaded words “show your work” were part of the instructions…
To demonstrate the exercise our 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Tempesta, would put a problem on the chalk board and demonstrate line by line, showing the work and how the process repeats until you made your way through the entire problem. At the end you would have the answer, with all the work to prove it.
I remember asking Mrs. Tempesta what would happen if you made a mistake early on in the process. She smiled and repeated the problem along side the original – with one tiny mistake. The wrong answer at the end of the work glared at our class; when we asked what do you do if your answer doesn’t match the solution in the book, she replied, “You have to start at the beginning, find your mistake, and rework a new solution.”
Welcome to repentance.
We all make mistakes: we say things we can’t take back; do things we regret; allow things to happen that we’d give anything to erase. And while we can’t change the past our faith tells us that we have a process that can bring healing and restore relationships. Like long division, we find our mistakes, REPENT, and rework a solution that follows a new path of behavior.
The words “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” are some of the most powerful in any language. The first reading and the Gospel today are especially adamant that we take them to heart – repenting of our sins and choosing a Godly path that brings healing to our lives. Remember: God never gives up on us! The process looks like this:
- We run through our own personal examination of conscience
- We admit it – perhaps directly or in the Sacrament of Confession
- We are sorry for the hurt we have done, acknowledging our sins/mistakes
- We do our part to make it right – doing what we can to fix and heal
- We call upon God’s healing grace and strength
Perhaps it’s been awhile since we stepped into a confessional. Perhaps it’s been awhile since we have honestly looked into our hearts. Today we can take a moment to look inside, see what doesn’t belong, and make the move to repent of our sins and turn to the Lord. May we see in the example of Jonah and Jesus today that we have hope; God keeps calling – inviting us to turn away from sin and embrace the Good News.
And if you are looking for some help in checking out your heart, try these options for an Examination of Conscience.
Note: This post was originally published on January 19, 2015.
We are reminded that our faith is built upon the foundation provided by the Apostles who were called by name by Jesus. As we hear the call of Christ in our lives today, we contribute to their efforts as we proclaim the Good News in the world.