Job 7: 1-4, 6-71 Corinthians 9: 16-19, 22-23 Mark 1: 29-39
It is a long-standing tradition that the gospel account recorded by St. Mark, which we are hearing in this year of the Church’s cycle of readings, is based upon the message that was preached by St. Peter. For some period of time Mark accompanied St. Peter and, thus, how he presents the gospel follows from what he had heard from St. Peter. Unlike Matthew and Luke who begin their gospel accounts with what are known as Infancy Narratives, and unlike St. John who starts his Gospel with a theological presentation, Mark begins immediately with the ministry of Jesus.
In some way, these events might seem to be unremarkable. Last week, for example, Jesus followed a common practice of attending synagogue and speaking there. But it is noted that he spoke with “authority.” Today, he stops at Peter’s home and there restores Peter’s mother-in-law to health so that she can look after the needs ofJesus and his companions. Then Jesus goes on to preach and to heal, followed by going off to pray.
Within this account of a “day in the life of Jesus,” Mark presents three components which are fundamental to the ministry of Jesus: word, action, prayer. What can readily be understood as God’s communication to us today then, is that basic to the mission of Jesus is also to be a part of our lives as believer: word, action & prayer.
Along with this passage from the Gospel of Mark, we also hears a brief section from the Old Testament Book of Job. This book is part of the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament. Basically the Book of Job encourages an understanding that in the midst of suffering and pain in life, there is a need to maintain a firm faith and trust in God. I was curious about the particular passage assigned for us to hear today because the lament of Job could be easily be our own during these early days of February in the Northern Hemisphere when, indeed, the days are short and the night are long. Like Job we can complain that so much must be endured. Sometimes it seems like it is too much. But Job does not abandon his faith in God.
As much as we might identify with Job and his laments, we need also to keep in mind those three components of the life of a believer: word, action and prayer. Our focus is not to be on ourselves, but how, in each of our lives, the words we say, the actions we do, and the conversation with God that is prayer, genuinely reflects in us the presence of God to our world.
We also have the occasion to listen to what St. Paul wrote to early Christians. He confirms his awareness that his response to God and his faith in God compelled him to carry on his ministry of preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. He did not seek any benefit for himself. He did not want any material return or reward. He attempts to be all things to all persons he addressed because his true concern is the effect his efforts will have on others and how they will live out their day-to-day lives as a result. Such thinking ought to guide us as well.
Word, action, prayer – these three components of the ministry of Jesus are present to us in the Gospel of Mark and are reflected in the remarks of Job and of Paul. The clear suggestion to us is to make them key components in living out our Faith, Next week, the annual “in-pew” appeal of Catholic Charities represents the effort we, as the local Church of the Diocese of Cleveland, make to address the needs that are present in so many different areas.Consider the basic understanding of the life of believers that is found in word, action and prayer to be a response that is made to the annual Catholic Charities Appeal. It is an opportunity to show a genuinely living and active faith in our good and gracious God.
Welcome to the website for Saint Mel Parish, Cleveland, Ohio. It is a pleasure to have you visit our site and it would be a blessing to us if you could join us in worship and prayer.
Founded in a developing part of the west side of Cleveland following the Second World War and serving growing families as they were established in the area, Saint Mel parish is centrally located in the West Park area of the city of Cleveland. As this dynamic area has changed over the years, the community of Saint Mel parish now consists of primarily older adults and smaller families.
After a proud tradition of Catholic education spanning sixty years, Saint Mel school closed in 2009.
Wherever you may happen to be, please join with the Saint Mel parish family in giving thanks and praise to God for the blessings which continue to be bestowed on its members, families and graduates.
Deuteronomy 18: 15-20 1 Corinthians 7: 32-35 Mark 1: 21-28
Given that so much of what is presented to us is done visually, on a screen on a smartphone, or tablet, or computer, or on a television or at a movie, I realize that it might be a challenge to suggest simply using one’s imagination without any of those aids. I ask that we attempt to visualize a scene in our minds only, that we picture a setting and the characters in that setting. Imagine what takes place rather than simply being shown it in some way.
I ask that you do this today. Use the imagination to travel back with me some 2000 years to a synagogue in Capernaum, a small building in which religious Jews gathered in prayer and praise. This is the scene that the Evangelist, Mark offers to us as he tells us about the beginning of the ministry of Jesus.
Into this gathering of persons practicing their Jewish faith comes Jesus and some followers. As was apparently a common practice, Jesus was asked by the synagogue leader to speak to those present. As he does so, he is confronted by an individual who was mentally disturbed in some way. Being possessed by a demon was the understanding of such a person at that time. A person who is challenged in this way can act without restraint, without subtlety or concern for others who were present. The behavior that is exhibited is often strange, or unusual or difficult.
In one brief sentence, however, it is this individual who speaks a central message of the Gospel as recorded by St. Mark. The person who has come into the synagogue is, indeed, Jesus of Nazareth. But he is then identified further. More than Jesus of Nazareth, he is also the “Holy One of God.” The one who speaks up, because of his illness, is unencumbered by so many of the restrictions we place on ourselves. He announces who truly is present.
St. Mark wants us to listen to Jesus, and to the whole presentation he makes in his Gospel. He wants us to follow along in the story of the ministry of Jesus so that after we hear or read all that is told to us in this Gospel, we can conclude that this Jesus is indeed the “Holy One of God.” Like those persons who were gathered in that synagogue in Capernaum, we can begin to recognize a new teaching, a new authority, a new revelation of God in what he says and does.
A challenge is made to us to open up our minds and hearts, to expand our imaginations,to not only the possibility but also the reality of the presence and the depth of the love of God that is now to be revealed to us once again as we reflect on the ministry of Jesus that will be told to us.
The one we now encounter in this scene in the synagogue is the one described by Moses in what we heard from Deuteronomy. This is the one who speaks in the name of God and with the authority of God. This is the one who will present the reality of God’s presence, not in thunder and flame, but in healing and reconciliation.
This is also the one who can lead us beyond anxieties about our situations in life. He encourages us to realize the importance of the whole scheme of life in comparison with the day to day concerns we might face, whether single or married, whether we are husband or wife. We are to live whatever calling in life that is ours with a view toward what is healing and reconciling, toward what is peaceful and respectful, toward what shows dignity and value in others and in ourselves because of the role and importance of our loving God in our lives.
To imagine is to picture, but to imagine is also to hope. It is with that hope that we listen to Jesus of Nazareth as the “Holy One of God.” He teaches with genuine authority about what it is to be human, to be a creation of God. He teaches that the true key to life, to happiness, to peace of mind and heart, is found in acting to bring about restoration and reconciliation wherever and however we can. This is to be done by each one of us and by all of us together in union with our good and gracious God.
Jonah 3: 1-5, 101 Corinthians 7: 29-31Mark 1: 14-20
A regular source of enjoyment for me is to spend about an hour a day reading what is known as an historical novel. The author of such a novel tells a fictional story within the context of historical time, events, persons that have been researched. Thus a reader not only is entertained by the story but also gains a certain degree of perspective into the era, the persons, the customs and so on.
The Old Testament Book of Jonah from which we just heard a brief passage is sometimes described by Scripture scholars as a lengthy parable, a lengthy story that seeks to teach a lesson. I like to consider it as something of an historical novel. Jonah is placed in an historical context. He is to preach conversion to the Assyrians in the city of Nineveh. He is called to preach to the arch-enemies ofIsrael. Contrary to his expectations, he is shocked by their response to this communication of God. From king down to the ordinary citizens, they respond positively. They repent and convert. This is the power of God’s message despite the intention of the messenger who delivers it.
Then, as St. Marks starts to tell us about the ministry of Jesus, there is what I consider to be an important point that is made. Jesus calls very ordinary individuals to join him. They are not the learned scribes or teachers or those recognized as leaders of the people. They are not those, for example, who may have had a certain prominence in the local synagogues. Rather, these are ordinary working individuals, persons who were exercising their trade as fishermen. These are the persons Jesus calls upon to join him in delivering the message of God. One point that seems to be obvious is that the proclamation of God’s Word is not done in what might be considered an “expected” way. Then, in a very clever play on words that is especially evident in English, these individuals are reminded that they can accomplish this task of revealing God very much within the context of exactly what they are. “Fishermen” will become “fishers of men.”
The effectiveness of Jonah went far beyond his expectations. Actually, he was disappointed that the Ninevites listened and were converted. The followers of Jesus could not know, at the time that is described, what it was that they would be able to achieve. It is in that context that we also hear a brief passage from Saint Paul. We can gain an insight into what God’s message to us today might be by hearing Paul urge us to look in life beyond the petty concerns of day to day and look at the larger picture with a greater perspective of how God’s presence can be effectively experienced in us.
Historical novels may not be accurate in all aspects. But I have found that reading them has opened my eyes to think differently about history and even about human nature. They have made clear that whatever our situation, we live as part of a much greater whole, both with regard to times in the past and to the present time. Reading historical novels has suggested looking at things in a broader context, rather than from a limited, self-focused view of reality. There is so much more to creation, to our world, that we can appreciate.
The story of Jonah can suggest to us never to sell short the effectiveness of God’s message as it can be lived by us – even despite ourselves at times. The call of the followers of Jesus, a call that is made to us as well, urges us to recognize all that can be done, simply within the context of day-to-day life, no matter who we are or what our social status might happen to be. The opportunity is offered to any of us and to each of us, in any variety of ways, to make known, day after day, what is truly Good New, the presence and love of our good and gracious God.
1 Samuel 2: 3b-10, 191 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20John 1: 35-42
I want to share with you again how I have come to appreciate taking part with you in the celebration of Mass. I see things in a simple and straightforward way. I have expressed these ideas before. To me it is realistic to recognize that we all live in a relationship with the very source of life; the Creator, God.
Being alive is a generous gift we have received from this loving God. In a way of acknowledging this simple fact we set apart some time, most weekly, some daily, to listen to and to respond to this loving God. Our God communicates with us, addresses a message to us, through inspired writers. These communications are basic to the development of any worthwhile relationship. Along with this communication, we are called together by our God to join in a meal. It is a meal in which, in the person of Jesus Christ sharing his Body and Blood, his very essence, God’s presence, is received by us in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. We hear God speak to us and feed us in order to nourish us as we go about the next week of the journey of our lives.
This may be a simple way to look at things, but it offers to me, and I hope to you, a good grasp of this loving interaction between God and ourselves. It makes our loving God and active part of our lives.
The message of God to us sometimes develops along a theme, as is the case during the parts of the year we know as Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. At other times, we might consider these communications with God in a more general way. God is speaking to us about aspects of how we experience life and the living presence of God in life. They also points out to us how we might respond to that experience in living out our daily lives.
This is the case today as we come together on what is known as the Second Sunday of the Year, part of what is called the Ordinary Time, the week after week time of the Church year. What we can understand today is one way that the relationship with God relates to our day to day living.
We first heard about the call an important individual from the Old Testament, Samuel, receives. This allows us to realize that in the relationship with God, it is our loving God who seeks us out. Our loving God wants a relationship with us. God desires us to know that we are not abandoned or own our own. We can live in away the reflects the assurance of a relationship with God. But, as Eli encourages Samuel, it is a call we need to hear and to which we need to respond.
Along with the call of Samuel, we also heard the call of the followers of Jesus. Further insights into the relationship with God can be gained from this episode. God comes into our midst in a way that we can experience, in the same humanity that we share. As Jesus Christ, he is first recognized as the “Lamb of God” by John the Baptist. He is the one who is given in sacrifice to us, on behalf of us. He is a teacher, yes, – he is called “rabbi.” But then he is quickly recognized as more. He is the Messiah. He is the Anointed One. He is the one promised and longed for. He is here and is available to us. Contact in this way will have an effect, an effect that is transformative. It can change us, as Simon is changed in name and is known as Peter.
In this new identity, lived in a union with Jesus Christ, as we heard reflected in the words of Saint Paul, the totality of who and what we are is affected. It is not just something vague, only spiritual or mental. It is very real and affects us physically, in the whole of what we are to be. That is the point of what Paul is writing to the Corinthians.
How we live this relationship with God is not simply an individual matter. It also relates to those who are around us, as we experience them, and they experience us, and they experience the goodness of God as shown by us.
We have come together for these moments today to hear a communication of God. It is a communication that goes beyond words. It also involves being nourished by the reality of God in the Eucharist we share. We hear the call if our loving God. We respond to that call. We are challenged to make changes in ourselves. All of this takes place in these moments so that we can be assured in ourselves, both now and in the week to come, that we experience a strengthening and loving relationship with our good and gracious God.