Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 15, 2014

b982da6fae6efebfd645a46ab7876e84_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus in today’s gospel offers us a vision of what it means to be alive–not just living but truly alive. Jesus is a man who is in touch with the needs of the people around him and disposes himself to find God’s work in the moment. When his friends tell him someone is sick, he doesn’t ignore it or do a needs analysis about whether it’s appropriate to act; no, he immediately puts himself at the disposal of people’s need. When the townspeople bring to him their ill and possessed, he responds with gestures of love and grace that transform their lives. And when he has finished in the place where he was, he goes into a default mode, where he actively looks for the next place to make an impact, going to the nearby villages to bring the good news to them as well. The first and last parts of the passage suggest Jesus is a man whose energy comes from a deep life of connection with God. The passage begins with an indication that the work Jesus does flows out of his connection to a community of believers, and at the end the narrative, we’re told he gets up early to be by himself and pray. Jesus doesn’t let life just happen to him. He shows up it: he prays, listens, acts, heals.

As Christians, we believe that Jesus’ life is the pattern for all of Christian life. If we are to be alive, like Jesus, we’ll show up, too–as men and women of prayer, attentive to the troubles of those around us, doing what we can to make each others’ lives better. There’s a saying that I sometimes hear that sums up what this gospel tells us, “Your life is not a rehearsal. Don’t leave it without giving it your all.”

Saint of the day: It is unclear what we really know of Paul’s life, how much is fable, how much fact.

Paul was reportedly born in Egypt, where he was orphaned by age 15. He was also a learned and devout young man. During the persecution of Decius in Egypt in the year 250, Paul was forced to hide in the home of a friend. Fearing a brother-in-law would betray him, he fled in a cave in the desert. His plan was to return once the persecution ended, but the sweetness of solitude and heavenly contemplation convinced him to stay.

paulHermitPretiHe went on to live in that cave for the next 90 years. A nearby spring gave him drink, a palm tree furnished him clothing and nourishment. After 21 years of solitude a bird began bringing him half of a loaf of bread each day. Without knowing what was happening in the world, Paul prayed that the world would become a better place.

St. Anthony of Egypt attests to his holy life and death. Tempted by the thought that no one had served God in the wilderness longer than he, Anthony was led by God to find Paul and acknowledge him as a man more perfect than himself. The raven that day brought a whole loaf of bread instead of the usual half. As Paul predicted, Anthony would return to bury his new friend.

Thought to have been about 112 when he died, Paul is known as the “First Hermit.” His feast day is celebrated in the East; he is also commemorated in the Coptic and Armenian rites of the Mass.

Spiritual reading: We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather around us, that they may see their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even fiercer life because of our quiet. (William Butler Yeats)


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