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Mk 5:21-43 – Sunday Gospel Reflection

Posted in Gospel of Mark, Sunday Gospel, Sunday Gospels by Erineus on June 27, 2009

Mk 5:21-43 -THE OFFICIAL’S DAUGHTER AND THE WOMAN WITH HEMORRHAGE
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In both Mark and Luke, Jesus has just calmed the storm on the sea and cured a demoniac at Gadara. Now we come to a double miracle which occur almost simultaneously in which Jesus deals with both death and disease. The message from Mark 5 and Luke 8 is that Jesus has power over the natural world and the supernatural world and now we see He has power over disease and death.

The Gospels report Jesus raising three people to life–this girl, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus. In each case the identity of the person is clearly given.

This account shows us, once again, the role faith plays in Jesus’ saving actions.

In the case of the woman with the hemorrhage we should note that Jesus is won over by her sincerity and faith: she does not let obstacles get in her way. For your information, this is the real status of the woman. According to Mark, the doctors couldn’t help her. He says, “She suffered much at the hands of many doctors, had spent all her money and was not helped at all.” Luke doesn’t mention that she suffered at the hands of many doctors, nor that she had spent all her money on medical bills. He just mentions that she could not be healed. Why do you think Luke left that part out? Because Luke was a doctor.

Because of her condition, this woman, who have suffered hemorrhage for twelve years, was continuously unclean according to Lev 15:25-31 and her touch would have made anyone she touched unclean. Haggai 2:10-14 makes the point that if something clean touches something unclean, then the thing that was clean is defiled. She could not go to the temple to worship. She could not touch anyone or they would be unclean for the rest of the day. If she sat in a chair, it was unclean for the rest of the day, etc. So she was basically cut off from normal fellowship with others and with God

Such was her seemingly helpless situation that she came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His garment; for she said to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I shall be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her He said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. (Mt. 9:21-23).

Similarly, Jairus, the “ruler” (of the synagogue) referred to in today’s gospel narrative as can be known from the parallel passages in Mark (5:21-43) and Luke (8:40-56), does not care what people will say; a prominent person in his city, he humbles himself before Jesus for all to see. “While He (Jesus) was speaking to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before Him, saying, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” Kneeling is the eastern way of showing respect to God or to important people. Reverence is a legitimate and appropriate external sign of internal faith and adoration.

And Jesus rose and followed him, with His disciples” (Mt 9:18f). While they are on their way home, a sick woman comes up and touches Jesus’ garment. Her faith expressed in touching healed her. Jairus is with Jesus and when Jesus stops to help the woman some men from Jairus’ house report that Jairus’ daughter is dead. When they get to the house, He tells them “depart, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping” and they laugh at Him. Was she dead? Yes. The text says, “Her spirit returned.”

Jesus says the same thing about Lazarus: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him” (John 11:11). Although Jesus speaks of sleep, there is no question of the girl–or Lazarus, later–not being dead. For our Lord there is only one true death–that of eternal punishment (cf. Matthew 10:28).  Sleep is a euphemism for “temporal” death. Paul even uses this term for believers (1 Co 15, 1Co 11).

Three interpretations we can possibly develop on today’s account:

First, from the healing of the woman we see that it is faith in Christ, not magical touches that heal. The power is in a person, not a fabric or formula. In Jesus’ time there was a superstition that that power was in the robe of a great man, priest, rabbi, etc. Her belief was that touching the fabric would make her well. In fact, when she did touch His garment, she was healed. Jesus was aware of the fact that a miracle had taken place.

Was she healed by touching his garment? Was it the garment that healed her? No, Mark 5:30 says Jesus felt the power flow from Him. Jesus declares to the woman that it was not the touch but her faith which healed her. Mark wants to distinguish between the fabric and her faith in Him. Here we can see that God can use inadequate faith, respond to it and clarify it later.  God was gracious enough to respond to her faith even though it was not mature. I think one of the reasons Jesus stopped was to tell the woman that it was her faith that healed her so that she wouldn’t continue in her superstition.

Second, the raising of Jairus’ daughter affirms the deity of Christ and proves that he is the Messiah, the resurrection and the life.  Matt 11:5 quotes Isa 35. It is Jesus who guarantees our resurrection from the dead. Because He lives, we too shall live (Paul tells us). It is him that turns death into sleep from which we can awake.

Third, intercessory prayer is powerful. Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men especially sinners (cf. Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; Tim 2:5-8). In today’s Gospel story we seem to have a miracle occurring almost independently of the woman being raised from dead. She was raised from the dead because of the faith of his Jairus – his father.

It was Jairus’ prayer in faith that healed and saved her daughter from hemorrhage. Have faith, then, to Jesus so that your heart learns to pray in faith. Faith is a filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand. It is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father. He can ask us to “seek” and to “knock,” since he himself is the door and the way (cf. Mt 7:7-11, 13-14, see cf. CCC 2609).  “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will” (Mk 11:24). Such is the power of prayer and of the faith that does not doubt: “all things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23; cf. Mt21:22;  see cf. CCC 2610).

I exhort you, then, to have faith in God who “wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4), that is, Jesus the way, the truth and the life” (see Jn 16:1; 14:6). “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn world, but that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3: 17) and “that we might have life to the full” (Jn 10:10).  Apart from Him you can do nothing (Jn 15:5), hence, pray always and never lost heart (Lk 18:1), “never cease praying, render constant thanks; such is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:17f);

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Mk 9:2-10 – Sunday Gospel Reflection

Posted in Gospel of Mark, Gospel Reflections by Erineus on March 7, 2009

Mk 9:2-10 –  The Transfiguration of Jesus
Second Sunday of Lent
Sunday Gospel Reflection

In today’s gospel’s account, Jesus who took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves “was transfigured before their eyes, and His clothes became dazzlingly white – whiter than the work of any bleacher could make them” (Mk 9:2-3). At the Transfiguration, Jesus’ face was no longer emptied (see Phil 2:7) of His divine glory. His face was clearly recognizable as the face of God.

From the day Peter confessed that is Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the Master “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things…and be killed, and on the third day be raised (Mt 16:21). Peter scorns this prediction, nor do the others understand it any better than he (Cf. Mt 16:22-23; Mt 17:23; Lk 9:45). In this context the mysterious episode of Jesus’ transfiguration takes place on a high mountain (Cf. Mt 17:1-8 and parallels; 2 Pt 1:16-18), before three witnesses chosen by himself: Peter, James and John. Jesus face and clothes become dazzling with light, and Moses and Elijah appear, speaking “of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Lk 9:31). A cloud covers him and a voice from heaven says: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him” (Lk 9:35) (CCC 554)!

For a moment Jesus discloses his divine glory, confirming Peter’s confession. He also reveals that he will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in order to “enter into his glory” (Lk 24:26). Why?  Because this is His Father’s will and as a Beloved Son in order to please the Father he is to serve and obey Him (see cf. Is 42:1). On this event, “the whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud” St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 45, 4, ad 2).

What are the meanings and significance of the Lord’s Transfiguration that we read this gospel two times a year: on the 2nd Sunday of Lent and on August 6th?

First, Jesus revealed his splendor and glory as the beloved Son of God to his disciples to strengthen them for the scandal of the Cross. “The Gospels report that at two solemn moments, the Baptism and the TRANSFIGURATION OF Christ, the voice OF the Father designates JESUS his ‘beloved Son’.[Cf. Mt 3:17 ; cf. Mt 17:5 .] JESUS calls himself the ‘only Son OF God’, and by this title affirms his eternal pre-existence.[Jn 3:16 ; cf. Jn 10:36 .] He asks for faith in ‘the name OF the only Son OF God’.[Jn 3:18 .] In the centurion’s exclamation before the crucified Christ, ‘Truly this man was the Son of  God’, [Mk 15:39 .] that Christian confession is already heard. Only in the Paschal mystery can the believer give the title ‘Son of God’ its full meaning” (CCC 444).

Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited him in Jerusalem – his betrayal, rejection and crucifixion. This will definitely scandalize his apostles. Hence, the need to reveal to his disciples his divine splendor and glory to strengthen them when that moment of crucifixion and death comes.

Second, “The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ’s glorious coming, when he will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:21). “His glory shone from a body like our own, to show that the Church , which is the body of Christ would one day  share his glory  (see Preface of the Transfiguration). But it also recalls that “it is through many persecutions that we must enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

Third, “The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.’ ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. ‘[Mt 11:29 ; Jn 14:6 .] On the mountain of the transfiguration, the Father commands: ‘Listen to him!’ [Mk 9:7 ; cf. Dt 6:4-5 .] Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm OF the new law: ‘Love one another as I have loved you. ‘[Jn 15:12 .] This love implies an effective offering OF oneself, after his example. [Cf. Mk 8:34 .] (CCC 459)”

Jesus possesses the glory, a manifestation of divinity, because He is God, equal to the Father. Hence he is entitled to all our reverence, worship, praise, petition, obedience of faith and love. He, like the father, has to be glorified too.

Friends, for you and your salvation “you have been purchased by Jesus, and at a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:20). How?

  • by your offering your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God as your spiritual worship (see Rm 12:1);
  • by your good works and practice of virtues. “People, in seeing your good works [and virtues], give glory to God our Father who is in heaven (see Mt 5:16);
  • by your life of total dedication and consecration to God. “Use all that is in you, as if it were his own, for the service and glory of the Father” (St. John Eudes, Tract. De admirabili corder Jesu 1, 5). “Whatever you do, either you eat or drink, do it for the glory of God.”

“The glory of God is a man fully human, fully alive!” (St. Ireneus).

Picture: http://www.flickr.com

Mk 1:12-15 – Sunday Gospel Reflection

Posted in Gospel of Mark, Gospel Reflections by Erineus on February 28, 2009

Mk 1:12-15 – The Temptation of Jesus
Sunday Gospel Reflection

The longing and  desire for heaven  or the single indestructible longing for God, for an eternity spent in intimate, blessed communion with him is the deepest desire of human heart. Heaven is “the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (CCC 1024). This is always what we pray for, what we strive for, what we hope for. But there were and will always be temptations, trials and tests on the way that will prevent us, hinder us and steal away from us the heaven that we long for.

The Gospel for today tells of Jesus’ retreat and temptation in the desert and the beginning of his preaching of God’s good news. Today’s Gospel simply tells of Satan tempting Jesus. But Jesus passed the test and overcame the test and temptation.

What is temptation? A temptation is anything than inclines a person to commit sin. It is enticement to evil, seduction to sin and death. Though it is not a sin it is more than trial or test because it lead us to sin. Once we enter into, give in to and submit to, temptation we are already committing sin which will bring us alienation, corruption, death and ultimately hell where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

What distinguishes temptation from trial? Trials or tests are necessary for growth while temptations incline us to sin. “No one who is tempted is free to say, “I am being tempted by God.” Surely God, who is beyond the grasp of evil, tempts no one” (Jas 1:13). God tests the heart puts his own in trial (1Th 2, 4) while only Satan tempts them (Lk 22,37; Ap 2, 10; 12,9). Trial is indispensable condition for growth (cf. Lk 8, 13ff), for sturdiness (1 P 1, 6f), for the manifestation of the truth (1 Co 11, 9: the reason for Christian divisions) and humility (1 Co 10, 12). When we overcome trials, temptations we are proven to be steady and strong (subok na matatag at subok na matibay. Thus freed, tried and tested Christian knows how to discern, verify and “try” everything (R 12, 2; E 5, 10). Trial is therefore the condition of the Church which is still to be tested, although she is already pure; stll to be reformed, although she is already glorious.

St. Paul assures us that “God will not let you be tested beyond your strength. Along with the test he will give you a way out of it so that you may be able to endure it” ( 1 Cor 10:13; cf. CCC 2848). In fact St. Paul wrote that we should even boast of our tests/afflictions, knowing that afflictions produce endurance, and endurance, proven virtue (cf. Rom 5:3-5; CCC 2897).

Sources of temptations:

  • Some temptations arise from within ourselves. “The tug and lure of his own passion has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches maturity it begets death” (cf. Jas 1:14).
    • Our passions and emotions incline us to long for attractive gratifications even through doing acts we know are evil.
    • Pride incline us to sin.
    • Imperfection of our very nature are sources of sin more particularly concupiscence and bad habits or vices.
  • We also experience temptations from the world. Persons, places and things can be occasion of sins to us. Even things good in themselves can be incitements in us to seek the attractive goods in unreasonable ways.
  • Faith also recognizes Satan, once an angel, but now hostile to God and to us, as one source of temptation. In his hatred for God, he seeks to drive us toward sinful and self-destructive choices (CCC 394-395).

Consequence of being tempted: slavery to sin, alienation and separation, death and ultimately hell where Satan dwells and where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

How do we handle with temptations?

  • Avoid temptations and keep yourself busy. Idleness is the workshop of the devil.
  • Resistance, faith and vigilance. Stay sober and alert because your enemy the Devil is like a prowling lion, waiting for someone to devour. Resist him and solid in your faith.
  • Prayer. In communion with their master, the disciples’ prayer is a battle; “only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation” ( cf. Lk 22:40, 46). “Pray that he will not let you be tested beyond your strength” (cf. 1 Cor 10:13). Pray that the Father “lead us not into temptations and allow us to be overcome by it (cf. CCC 2846). Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy…Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.
  • Repentance and conversion. Always return to the Lord with fasting, weeping and mourning. For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment.
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Always seek in everything the will of God. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.

Temptations are not themselves sins and no one entirely escape temptation. Hence, be vigilant and pray that God our Father may “lead us not into temptation” or allow us to be overcome by it and “seek it with all our hearts His sufficient grace to overcome temptation and to remain faithful to God (cf. CCC 2848).

Picture: http://www.padrebergamaschi.com/Pets/images/Temptation.jpg