In today’s Gospel, Mark 2:13-17, Jesus encounters “Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post.” Jesus says to him, “Follow me!” And he gets up and follows Jesus. Notice that he doesn’t spend time weighing all his options. He immediately gets up, leaves everything as is, and follows Jesus.
When Jesus calls us, He wants a similar response. He doesn’t want us to to carefully weighs all of our options. He doesn’t want us to carefully weigh all of our actions and then take the safest or most advantageous course. He wants us to spontaneously and generously say YES to whatever Jesus wants,
The unclean spirit in today’s Gospel, Mark 1:21-28, is both perceptive and terrified. He knows who Jesus is and what He can do. “Have you come to destroy us,? He says to Jesus – knowing full well the answer. Jesus has come to destroy the power of unclean spirits over humankind.
This is Jesus’ mission – to save us from the domination of Evil.
Last night, I had a two hour session with a thirty-three year old man who is concerned about his father’s rapidly declining health. This man has been one of his father’s caretakers for the past several years. Like many father-son relationships, there is love, ambivalence and some unresolved issues in the mix. He is currently experiencing all kinds of emotions and needed to talk about them. He did what he needed to do.
This man is dealing with “anticipatory grief.” He is grieving the approaching death of his father. This is a common but often unrecognized form of grieving. He is experiencing some of the various manifestations of grief, e.g., free-floating anxiety, erratic sleep, self-doubt, what if? …etc. He is grieving and his grieving needs to be respected. He needs to talk about it; own his grieving and put it all in God’s Hands.
Many of us are dealing with “anticipatory grief.” Grieving may occur in anticipation of the death of a loved one. Grieving may also occur in anticipation of various losses: the impending break-up of a marriage or friendship; retirement or downsizing re career; moving from one part of the country to another; physical diminishment due to ageing or declining health. It’s important to own our anticipatory grief; share it with trusted friends or even a professional; handle the grieving in healthy ways and put it in God’s Hands.
Epiphany – the visit of the magi to the new born Jesus, today’s Gospel, Matthew 2:1-12.
The magi were seekers from afar. They were guided to Bethlehem and finding the infant Jesus “They prostrated themselves and did Him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
The great truth of this story is that Jesus, the Messiah, the Savior, is here for all of us – not just the Jews or a select group of people – but all of us! How blessed we are! Salvation is for all of us, but we have to accept it. We have to accept Jesus as Our Lord and Savior. We have to witness to Him by our words and deeds. We have to do our best to internalize His teachings and live them out. And in all of this Jesus is with us!
The great commandment is that of love: love of God and love of neighbor.
Love is a conscious choice that we make for the good of our neighbor. Our neighbor is every single living human being on planet Earth. Today’s first reading, 1 John:3:11-21, is to the point,
“… we should love one another, unlike Cain who belonged to the Evil One and slaughtered his brother.” ….and “Whoever does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.”
One couldn’t be more explicit! Words of hatred; acts of hatred abound in our world not only “out there” but oftentimes right in our own backyards. The beginning of a new year is always a good time to take a good look at ourselves: do I truly love my neighbor; is there hatred in my heart; do I engage in hateful behavior? Now is the time to begin erasing hatred from my life. In doing so, I take a small but necessary step in erasing hatred from our world.