January 30, 2017

Jan. 30

January 30, 2017:  Monday, 4th week, Ordinary Time


For 1st reading

For gospel
Without memory there's no hope.  Hebrews 11 speaks of memory, first of all a memory of the docility of so many people.  Today's section is about the Lord's great works accomplished through Gideon, Barak, Samson, David, and others.
We also remember the martyrs, those who have given their lives, as Jesus did, stoned, tortured, killed by the sword....  The Church is this people of God, sinful but docile, that does great things and bears witness to Christ, to the point of martyrdom.  Martyrs support the Church and carry it forward; there are more now than in the first centuries.  The media doesn’t speak of them because they're not newsworthy, but so many are persecuted, insulted, incarcerated, many just for carrying a cross or confessing Christ!  This is the glory of the Church, our support, and our humiliation:  everything seems easy for us who have much.  The greatest strength of today's Church is in the little Churches, tiny, persecuted, with their bishops in prison.
A Church without martyrs is a church without Jesus.  Pray for our martyrs, for those not free to express themselves: they're our hope.  “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.”  They, with the witness of their life, sow Christians for the future.  Pray for those now suffering, for Churches that suffer, who don't have liberty.  And thank the Lord for being present with the strength of the Spirit in those bearing witness to him.
  • Heb 11:32-40  I don't have time to tell those who by faith conquered kingdoms, did right, closed lion's mouths, put out fires, escaped the sword; they were made strong and powerful.  Some were afflicted, tortured or killed, or endured mockery or imprisonment.  Yet they all didn't receive what had been promised.  God foresaw something better....
  • Ps 31:20-24  "Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord."  How great is the goodness You have in store for those who fear you.  You shelter them, show mercy.  You heard my pleading....
  • Mk 5:1-20  Jesus / Gerasene with unclean spirit:  “Come out of the man!” / “What have you to do with me, Son of the Most High?  Don't torment me!” / “What is your name?” / “Legion; we are many.  Send us into the swine.”  They entered the swine and drowned all 2,000.  All saw the man cured and were amazed.  “Announce all the Lord has done for you.”
  • Creighton:  Today the symptoms the Legion-possessed man displayed would be interpreted as mental illness, but he was clearly suffering.  Relieving his suffering is right and just. We should use the tools we have to help others and our world. Jesus used his divine powers to heal the man, but even if we use medicine or therapy today, social support and prayer are still needed.  Science and faith can both heal, and people of science can be people of faith....
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Left-overs":  After Jesus drove the unclean spirits out of the man, the townsfolk begged him to leave.  He left, but when he didn't allow the man to accompany him, he assured that his truth, power, and love would stay in the area through the man's new life.
  • Medieval illustration of Jesus healing the Gerasene
  • Today Jesus has been told to leave certain places, businesses, cities, nations, and families, but he's left us behind and is present through us.  May we bear his presence in society.  Satan showed his presence through the swine; may the Lord show his presence through us.
  • Passionist:  "Comfort and companionship amidst challenges":  How do we deal with the demons of lethargy and evil?  Hebrews was written in part to give courage and support to early Christians.  To break the spiritual lethargy of Christians who had lost heart, the author mentioned people who had endured for the Lord, responding to challenges.
Jesus confronted evil in the person of the possessed man who sought him out and was freed from Legion. Jesus asked him to return to his family and tell them what God had done.  News spread, and all who heard or saw the changed man were amazed!  We believe in Jesus, but despair or lethargy can challenge us too, as can demons of violence, abuse, poverty, and injustice.  Jesus invites us to be in communion with him and the Church, seeking healing and strength in the life he offers us.  Never alone, we face challenges with the Life and fellowship we have in Jesus.  Who knows what miracles Jesus may work through us?
  • DailyScripture.net:  "Tell them  how much the Lord has done for you":  A 'legion' is an army over 5,000 strong, capable of committing atrocities.  Our age has also witnessed mass destruction at the hands of possessed rulers and their armies.  God's word reminds us no destructive force can keep anyone from the peace God offers to those who seek him.  Jesus took pity on the man who was overtaken by a 'legion' of evil spirits.  After Jesus freed him, the people feared Jesus and begged him to leave, perhaps because the price for liberation was more than they wanted to pay.  Jesus is ready to free us from whatever binds us and keeps us from his love.  Are you willing to part with it?
Dress legend
  • 'Lion' pin:  People with faith closed lions' mouths,... (1st reading)
  • 'Fire' pin:  ...Put out raging fires,... (1st reading)
  • 'Sword' pin:  ...Escaped the sword (1st reading)
  • 'JC' chain:  Jesus Christ expels Legion (gospel); nobody could restrain the possessed man, even with a chain (gospel); others endured chains,... (1st reading)
  • 'Stone' tie pin:  ...Were stoned,... (1st reading); the demoniac bruised himself with stones (gospel)
  • 'Sheep' tie bar:  ...Went about in sheepskin,... (1st reading)
  • 'Alps' tie pin:  ...Wandered about on mountains... (1st reading)
  • 'Heart' pin:  Let your hearts take comfort... (psalm)
  • 'Boat' tie bar:  Jesus got out of the boat, then got in (gospel)
  • 'Pigs' suspenders:  Jesus let the evil spirits enter into the swine (gospel)
  • '?' tie pin:  "What is your name?" (gospel)
  • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season

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