FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Ushering in the New World

I was watching a video recently about the first line of the Gospel of Mark. I
believe the first line will help us to better understand the glory of God, and
how much of an impact Jesus is having on society.
The first line is: The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Let’s break it down a bit. The phrase “the beginning” refers back to Genesis
and the first line there, which says “In the beginning” Mark is saying that
Jesus is ushering in a new age, or a new beginning, where Christ is Lord. In
the “Gospel of Christ” Mark is saying that he is sharing the good news of Jesus
Christ, and invites all to enter into a new life in Christ. Lastly, with the phrase
“Son of God”, Mark is saying that Jesus truly is the Son of God, not anyone else. There were some like emperors
and false prophets who claimed to be the Son of God, but Mark is here to say that Jesus truly is the Son of God.
So when the Gospel reading says “They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new
teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ For a first century Jew, the
first line in the Gospel could not be more powerful, it speaks to the very heart of their belief in the Messiah that is to
come and save them.
For us today it reaffirms Jesus as our Lord and Savior and our need to see His 2000 year old teaching as essential to
our lives and our mission. How difficult it was for the earliest Christians who spread the good news of Jesus, in
very hostile territory. Many as we know, lost their lives in an effort to spread the Gospel of Christ. During this
week of Christian unity which ended a couple of days ago, I think it is a good time to pray for and remember the
sacrifices that all Christians make in their ministries and to pray for the Unity of Christians so we can move forward
as one.
There is another line in the Gospel that struck me as well. It’s the last part of the reading. “At once his fame began
to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.” For me, if I was trying to get to Jerusalem to fulfill my
mission to sacrifice myself for the forgiveness of the sins of all the people in the world, I would more than likely
keep a low profile. I likely wouldn’t draw attention to myself. So why would Jesus heal the sick, forgive people of
sins, rebuke unclean spirits, and preach to thousands? For me, it is truly an act of generosity and love for him to
take the risk of being arrested and killed by the roman authorities. Jesus put aside all the potential consequences for
his actions, and through pure love, he tended to His flock. This is a call to action for us as well, as sometimes we
meet with resistance to the good news, and sometimes we are in hostile territory, but we may indeed be called to
speak the Gospel of Christ with love and compassion.
Let us pray for the grace this week to share the love of Christ with those we meet.
God bless you all, Deacon Danny

THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Finding our Bridge

The Gospel of Mark relates a story very familiar to us when the Lord calls His first Apostles to “come after me.” This is in effect the calling heard by Jonah, and what Paul was trying to emphasize to us. Before the calling, however, Jesus says again, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
I have been thinking a lot about the word repent, and what it really means to repent from something, and as usual I think the answer just fell into my lap.
I was watching a new series by talk show host David Letterman where he does one hour in depth interviews with politicians and celebrities. The interviews are really well done, in this particular episode Letterman interviewed former President of the United States Barack Obama. The two were speaking about the marches on Selma back in 1965. The first march took place on March 7, 1965, organized locally by Bevel, Amelia Boynton, and others. State troopers and county possemen attacked the unarmed marchers with billy clubs and tear gas after they passed over the county line, and the event became known as Bloody Sunday. Law enforcement beat Boynton unconscious, and the media publicized worldwide a picture of her lying wounded on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
The second march took place March 9. Troopers, police, and marchers confronted each other at the county end of the bridge, but when the troopers stepped aside to let them pass, Martin Luther King led the marchers back to the church.
Towards the end of that part of their conversation David Letterman said he was deeply moved by learning about the marches, and he relayed a story about what he was doing on March 8, 1965. Letterman said I was travelling to Flor-ida with buddies and we were going to party all week with his friends. And then he asked himself, “ Why wasn’t I on that bridge in Selma?” I should have been there too, marching with the others.
I think at that moment David Letterman was repenting, he felt sorry for his inaction, but I think at the same time he found His calling. God calls us to repentance from sin of course, but He is also calling us to find our mission in the world and in essence “find our bridge”. When Jesus calls us to come and see, He want us to “find our bridge”, that one thing in our life that allows us to glorify God, and help to build his kingdom to the earth, while at the same time helping those who are persecuted or marginalized. Be it fighting for civil rights, working to alleviate poverty, or maybe it’s helping children and adults through catechises, Jesus wants us to find our calling. So ask Him today to lead you on your personal journey by answering his call, and to “come after me” and to begin a life changing
journey that will stretch you and challenge you to go deeper in love with Him, and to change the world at the same time. Now more than ever we need agents for change in the world, and God wants you to be part of it.
God bless you all, Deacon Danny

SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Jesus Calling Us to be a Disciple

John the Baptist’s designation of Jesus as Lamb of God is often misunderstood. It
has little to do with Jesus’ meekness, mildness, or humility and everything to do
with sacrifice, and his unending love for us. “Behold the Lamb of God.” It is
with these words that St. John the Baptist introduces Jesus to two of his followers,
who then in turn do indeed follow Jesus to learn more about Him. One of those
followers is identified as Andrew, brother to St. Peter, and the other is presumed
by historians to be St. John. Throughout his Gospel, St. John appears often, but is
never specifically named.
But why did John the Baptist use that name in particular, “Lamb of God?” Lambs were sacrificed regularly, and the
blood of the lambs given in sacrifice was given for the sins of that day. Of course, the blood of Jesus was given for
our sins, not just for a particular day but for all time.
It is as if each Gospel presents a view of who Jesus is. It is interesting to see how each Gospel emphasizes different
aspects of Jesus. You might say Matthew shows Him as the King of Kings. Mark presents Him as a Servant of God.
Luke views Him as the Son of Man. And John illustrates Jesus as the Son of God. All together the Gospel writers
give us a glimpse of the greatest Man who ever lived. Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry, and
most importantly loved unconditionally. Jesus has cared for us like no other. No one has ever loved us like Jesus
has.
Jesus asks these first two disciples an important and logical question: “What are you looking for?” It is the same
question He asks of all of us. For the answer the Lord directed them, as He does us as well, to Himself – to live with
Him, to “Come and…see.” Those disciples followed Him. They do this at the urging of John the Baptist. Their
willingness to follow Jesus fulfills John the Baptist’s ministry.
In our own lives, the Gospel calls us to follow Jesus We are called to be Christ’s disciples. People come to faith in
the Lord through invitation. Andrew invites and introduces his brother Simon Peter to Jesus. If we truly believe in
the Lord, and wish to share that belief, we too will invite others to join with us. That is part of our calling.
God even goes further, and asks of us to give our lives over to him, every aspect of our lives. Often, this is a giant
leap of faith, as our lives will change and like Mary, we may not be entirely sure how much it will change until we
say yes.
However, while giving our lives to Christ can be a bit scary perhaps, there is also great joy that we experience. I
was listening to Danny speak last week about his experience with the NET team, and I remember thinking what a
great journey he is on, and what an incredible journey so many people who say “yes” to the Lord have experienced.
If you think church is boring, I can tell you a life of faith is anything but boring. However, no matter how exciting a
life in Christ is, it too will take sacrifice. Sometimes it is a sacrifice of moving to a place you are unfamiliar with
and leaving family and friends, or leaving a job that you are comfortable in, or perhaps we lose friends that just
don’t understand the change that has come over us; the you that they have come to know isn’t quite the same person
anymore. I know in my case, I lost a couple of friends because they had a kind of pre-conceived notion of what a
Catholic believes and does, and they just couldn’t reconcile that. One thing is for sure, Jesus has promised to journey
with you and guide you on this incredible journey of faith, a faith you can share with so many that you encounter.
God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald