A Non-Pretentious Friend

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 Week IV in Ordinary Time 2Samuel 24:2, 9-17; Psalm 32; Mark 6:1-6 Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of… Mark 6:3 What was Jesus like growing up? We know four things: he was very smart, asked a lot of questions, was obedient to his parents, and nobody in town thought he was special (today’s Gospel: Luke 2:42-52). Jesus wasn’t a show off. Even though he was the Messiah, he didn’t act superior to others. People just knew him as “the carpenter, the son of Mary,” the relative of folks they knew. They thought he was just like everybody else. He wasn’t, of course. But you wouldn’t know that unless you got to know him on a personal level. Apparen

A Friend Who Is Nice To Have Around

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 Tuesday of Week IV in Ordinary Time 2Samuel 18:9 to 19:3; Psalm 86; Mark 5:21-43 Gladden the soul of your servant… Psalm 86:4 Wherever Jesus was, good things seemed to happen. In the middle of a crowd, a woman “came up behind him and touched his cloak.” Instantly, she was healed. When he reached a house where people were “weeping and wailing” because a girl had died, Jesus said, “The child is not dead but asleep.” They ridiculed him. So he put the killjoys out, took the child by the hand and said, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” Then, “Give her something to eat.” Jesus knew kids! Jesus is the kind of person it’s nice to have around. And, as “Emmanuel,” which m

A Friend Who Uses Me (in a Good Way)

Monday, January 29, 2018 Week IV in Ordinary Time 2Samuel 15:13-14, 30; 16:5-13; Psalm 3; Mark 5:1-20 The man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. But Jesus would not permit him. Mark 5:18 Jesus wasn’t rejecting the man he delivered. He didn’t let him travel with him because he had work for him to do. “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his mercy has done for you.” He made the man an apostle, “one sent,” although he knew almost nothing about Jesus. All Jesus wanted him to do was share his experience. At the time, it was all he could do. Really, it’s all any of us do. We share our experience of God, great or small, long or short. That is our serv

An Unselfish Friend

Sunday, January 28, 2018 Week IV in Ordinary Time Deuteronomy 18:15–20; Psalm 95; 1 Corinthians 7:32–35; Mark 1:21-28 A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin. Deuteronomy 18:15 Being a prophet is a job. The Trinity sent God the Son to work for us: “not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). God himself works for us. We shouldn’t take that for granted. Friends help each other. But how many spend their whole lives working for a friend—free? Jesus did. Jesus came to earth to serve us as Prophet, Priest, and the kind of King who, instead of asking his subjects to serve him, served them. After washing their feet, he said… “Do as I have done to yo

A Non-Intimidating Friend

Saturday, January 27, 2018 Week III in Ordinary Time 2Samuel 12:1-17; Psalm 51; Mark 4:35-41 Who is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?” Mark 4:41 The disciples were awestruck to see that Jesus could command the weather. It is significant that they weren’t awestruck before. “Jesus was in the stern of the boat, asleep” just like any ordinary person. When the disciples got scared, “they woke him” without qualms. They even seemed to be criticizing him: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” What does it say that his disciples were so free with Jesus? Jesus obviously did not insist on protocol. Publilius Syrus said: “Friendship either finds or makes equals.” You cannot really

A Friend Who Shares His Heart

Friday, January 26, 2018 Week III in Ordinary Time 2Samuel 11:1-17; Psalm 51; Mark 4:26-34 Feast of Saints Timothy and Titus: 2Timothy 1:1-8 or Titus 1:1-5; Psalm 96 Mark 4:26-34 But to his own disciples he explained everything in private... Mark 4:34 It is just a fact that you can’t share everything with everyone, even though you want to. Some aren’t ready to hear what you have to say. Some can’t accept it. So, rather than drive them further away, you wait until they are ready. And try to make them ready. Jesus does this. If we have accepted the gift of faith and opened ourselves to his light, he calls us his friends. And the more we are his friends, the more he will share with us: I do n

A Supportive Friend

Thursday, January 25, 2018 Week III in Ordinary Time 2Samuel 7:18-29; Psalm 132; Mark 4:21-25 Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul: Acts 22:3-16 (or 9:1-22); Psalm 117; Mark 16:15-18 These signs will accompany those who believe… Mark 16:17 Jesus chose us, like Paul, to continue his mission. He never promised it would be easy, but he did promise his support. And that is an understatement. Jesus gives so much support that, no matter how much he lays on us, he can say, “My yoke is easy, and my burden light.” God told Ananias: “This man [Paul] is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles... I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.” Paul bore witness, and suffe

A Super-Generous Friend

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 Week III in Ordinary Time 2Samuel 7:4-17; Psalm 89; Mark 4:1-20 To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God. Mark 4:11 God says he has been generous with David: “I took you from the pasture, made you commander of my people, have been with you wherever you went, and have destroyed all your enemies.” But now God promises ten times more: Your house and kingdom shall endure forever. I will make you famous, fix a place where my people may dwell without further disturbance, give you rest from all your enemies, establish a house for you, raise up your heir after you, make his Kingdom firm forever, be a father to him, and he a son to me, correct him if

A Friend Who Takes Me Into His Family

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 Week III in Ordinary Time 2Samuel 6:12-19; Psalm 24; Mark 3:31-35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother. Mark 3:35 How would you feel if Jesus made Mary, his mother, wait outside because he was talking to you!? That is what he does in the Gospel. And more: he says, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Then, looking at those seated around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Do you dare take him at his word on that? About yourself? You have to, or you deny the faith. You are the brother or sister of Jesus Christ! That is the mystery of your existence as a Ch

A Friend Who Makes Me Reliable

Monday, January 22, 2018 Week III in Ordinary Time 2Samuel 5:1-7, 10; Psalm 89; Mark 3:22-30 With my holy oil I have anointed him,… that my arm may make him strong.” Psalm 89:20 How many people rely on me? Need me? Trust me? Could anyone make me reliable, trustworthy, if I’m really not? Jesus can, and does. At Baptism Jesus anointed me to continue his mission as Prophet, Priest and King. Before he sent me out, he sent the Holy Spirit into my heart to abide with me, enlighten me, strengthen me. Jesus relies on me, because he relies on the Holy Spirit within me to make me reliable. How does he know I will follow his Holy Spirit? Because the Spirit gives me love for him. Friendship makes fri

A Friend Forever

Sunday, January 21, 2018 Week III in Ordinary Time Jonah 3:1–5, 10; Psalm 25; 1Corinthians 7:29–31; Mark 1:14-20 For the world in its present form is passing away. 1Corinthians 7:31 St. Teresa of Avila once said she wouldn’t want to form a friendship with anyone she could not be with forever in heaven. Friends meant that much to her. How much do they mean to me? Does it make me appreciate more having Jesus as a friend when I realize he will be my friend forever? Teresa compares friendship with Jesus to marriage. Married people are in for the long haul. Their goal is perfect union of mind and will and heart. You don’t get to that overnight—either with a spouse or with Jesus. You have to be

A Friend Who Cares

Saturday, January 20, 2018 Week II in Ordinary Time 2Samuel 1:4-27; Psalm 80; Mark 3:20-21 “How can the warriors have fallen…?” 2Samuel 1:19 The rabbis say that when the Egyptians pursued the Israelites into the Red Sea, and the waters flowed back and drowned them, the angels begin to sing. Then they saw that God was weeping. God explained, “The Egyptians are my children too.” David mourned the deaths, both of Jonathan, his friend, and of Saul, who was trying to kill him. God mourned their defeat, although he had authorized it (1Samuel 28:19). And Jesus wept when Lazarus died, even though he deliberately let it happen for “the glory of God” and knew he was going to raise him from the dead

A Friend Who Chooses Me

Friday, January 19, 2018 Week II in Ordinary Time 1Samuel 24:3-21; Psalm 57; Mark 3:13-19 Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted. Mark 3:13 Have you ever been left out when people were choosing? Choosing sides in a game? Choosing guests for a party? Choosing someone to work for them? How does it feel when you are chosen? How does it make you feel about the person who chose you? Do you feel that way about Jesus? Do you know—and are you sure—that he has chosen you? When did he do it, and where? He chose you from your mother’s womb. But he did it publicly, explicitly, and solemnly on the day of your Baptism. If you ever doubt you were chosen by God, get out your baptisma

A Friend Who Delivers

Thursday, January 18, 2018 Week II in Ordinary Time of 1Samuel 18:6-9; 19:1-7; Psalm 56; Mark 3:7-12 In God I trust; I shall not fear. Psalm 56:11 Don’t we hate it when we see ourselves reacting in ways that disgust us? Petty jealousies? Dislike of others that we know is really rooted in envy? (The difference: jealousy is minor: just wanting what another has. Envy is major, Saul’s sin: wanting to destroy the other for having it). Constant self-seeking, resentments, lust, greediness? Like the crowds in the Gospel, we even want to use Jesus to serve us (e.g. for healing) instead of accepting what he wants to teach us and serving him. Like Paul, we cry out, “Who will deliver me from this body

A Friend Who Expands My Heart

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 Week II in Ordinary Time 1Samuel 17:32-51; Psalm 144; Mark 3:1-6 Blessed be the Lord, my Rock! My refuge… my deliverer. Psalm 144:1 Is it weakness to be grateful for a strong friend? All of us need one sometime. Christians need one all the time. Why? It is because the Christian life by definition is impossible. Christian life is divine life. We are called to live on the level of God. As Jesus himself said, speaking about his whole New Law, “For humans it is impossible.” He added, however, “But for God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). “I am the vine, you are the branches… apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). By “nothing” Jesus means, “nothing d

A Friend Who Knows The Real Me

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 Week II in Ordinary Time 1Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 89; Mark 2:23-28 Not as man sees does God see. Humans see the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7 God told Samuel not to judge by appearances. Jesus said the same thing when people judged his disciples by their actions. Jesus looks to the heart. That is where we see the truth, the reality, of what a human person is. Yes, actions do count. Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree good fruit” (Matthew 7:16). But that is not absolute. Aristotle (384–322 BCE) is supposed to have said, “One swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day

A Friend Who Builds Relationship

Monday, January 15, 2018 Week II in Ordinary Time 1Samuel 15:16-23; Psalm 50; Mark 2:18-22 Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? Mark 2:19 Jesus changed rules into responses, and religion into relationship with God. People thought Jesus’s disciples should fast because that was what religious people did. Religion was more about “what” you did than “who” you were. Not for Jesus. He says religious acts have no value unless they are expressions of our personal response to God as Person. Jesus doesn’t want subjects, but partners. And he makes them his friends. “I do not call you servants any longer… but friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard f

A Friend Who Includes Me

Sunday, January 14, 2018 Week II in Ordinary Time 1Samuel 3:3b–10, 19; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 6:13c–15a, 17–20; John 1:35–42 Your bodies are members of Christ… Whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him. 1Corinthians 6:15 It was a metaphor when Horace called his friend Virgil dimidium animae meae: the “half of my soul” (Odes, Book I, ode iii). But it is no metaphor when Jesus calls us his own body. Literally, every baptized person is the body in which Jesus lives on earth today. This is more than friendship. This is union on the deepest level of being. When Jesus makes our body his own, he makes his life our own. His life is relationship—understand “interaction”—between the

A Friend Who Trusts Me

Saturday, January 13, 2018 Week 1 in Ordinary Time 1Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1; Psalm 21; Mark 2:13-17 I did not come to call the righteous but sinners. Mark 2:17 The Responsorial—“Lord, in your strength the king is glad”—celebrates God’s promise to work with and through Saul: “The Lord anoints you commander… You are to govern… and to save.” God knew Saul would fail later (1Samuel 15:11); nevertheless, he anointed him and used him to do great things. God knew Peter would fail too, but that he would repent (Luke 22:31), and he made him the rock of the Church’s unity. He knows we will fail also—many times—but he has anointed us to do his work as prophets, priests, and stewards of his kingship

A Friend Who Erases My Past

Friday, January 12, 2018 Week 1 in Ordinary Time 1Samuel 8:4-7, 10-22; Psalm 89; Mark 2:1-12 Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Mark 2:7 Our other friends can do a lot for us, but not as much as Jesus. If we do something wrong, our friends can forgive us; even accept us. But they cannot actually take away our sins. They cannot make us acceptable if we are not. Jesus can. He is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). Not just forgives: “takes away.” Ezekiel’s promise (36:25) was a prophecy; it wasn’t realized until Jesus made possible new birth in the waters of Baptism: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses.”

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