DAILY REFLECTIONS 1ST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Saturday 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Year II)
Introduction

In the readings today we have the encouraging message that with God we have nothing to be afraid of. God is a God of mercy and forgiveness. With Jesus we always have the ability to start again and live a life of faith.

We gather as God’s children and ask for his loving mercy and forgiveness.

Reflection

Galilee, where Jesus was living at the time of today’s Gospel, belonged to one of the sons of late King Herod, Herod Antipas. Herod’s kingdom had been divided between Herod’s three sons. These three new territories caused problems for the people living near the borders. Where once they had been free to move, now they had to pay a toll to go from one territory to the next.

Levi, the man Jesus meets in today’s Gospel, was in charge of one of these toll points. He would have been very unpopular with his compatriots, Just like the tax collectors and sinners Jesus also mingles with in today’s Gospel reading, Levi not only takes unwelcome fees from the people, but in doing so he works for Herod Antipas, who collaborates closely with the Roman authorities. By extension, Levi is allying himself with the much-loathed Romans.

So why does Jesus choose Levi? Levi is yet another example of Jesus extending his welcome and his mercy to those whom decent law-abiding Jewish society looked down upon. Jesus offers Levi a new way of life. In following Jesus, Levi finds the ability to start his life again. May we too always have the courage and faith to follow Jesus.


Friday  –  1st Week of Ordinary Time (Year II)
Introduction

The Gospel story is a great lesson for us in persistence and particularly persistence in prayer. The paralytic man on the stretcher can’t get anywhere near Jesus, because the men carrying him can get through the crowd. So instead of giving up, they lower then man through the roof to make sure he gets to Jesus.

And immediately Jesus responds because he has seen their faith. Let us too reveal our own faith in Jesus and do all we can to get close to Him in our lives. We first ask for his loving mercy and forgiveness.

Reflection

Often in our prayer life, we can think we are getting no where or we don’t seem to feel anything in prayer. This can be for so many reasons. And if this is how we feel then we are in good company, because even the greatest Saints felt as much.

But the great Saints became great Saints, because as in our gospel today, they persevered and would not take no for an answer. They wanted to get close to Jesus and would not let anything stop them.

May we have the same faith in our own lives to persevere and trust that Jesus can and will respond to our call made in faith.


Thursday 1st Week of Ordinary Time (Year II)
Introduction

In the first reading today from the Book of Samuel, we hear the heart breaking story of the capture of the Ark of the Covenant by the Philestines.

And then in the Gospel, Jesus reveals his amazing power when he cures a poor leper. Jesus shows no reserve in coming to the outcasts help.

We gather as God’s children and ask for the same healing and forgiveness in our own lives.

Reflection

In today’s Gospel reading Jesus gives the poor leper clear instructions not to rush around telling everyone about his healing; and yet the man does. I think naturally he can not contain his excitement at being healed. It seems puzzling that Jesus does not want word of this miracle to get around. In the passage before this Gospel reading, Jesus healed many people in front of great crowds. The key is in the instructions that Jesus gives to the healed man. He tells him to go to the priest and make the right offering, as Jewish law dictates. 

As the man suffered from leprosy, he would have been an outcast and considered ritually unclean. Jesus has gone beyond the laws of ritual cleansing, held so dear by the Pharisees and scribes, and healed the man without recourse to the law, but Jesus as always puts compassion first.

Yes the leper is cured, but he runs the risk of continuing to be rejected by society if he does not go through the proper Jewish laws in order to show in the traditional ritual way, that he is clean. This wasn’t Jesus trying to hush things up, this was Jesus looking after the healed man’s best interests, enabling him to be fully integrated and accepted by society.

As always, Jesus wants only what is best for us.


Tuesday 1st Week in Ordinary Time (Year II)
Introduction

In the first reading today from the First Book of Samuel we hear the call of Samuel who hears the voice of God calling out to him.

Then in the Gospel we hear how an unclean spirit recognizes Jesus as the Holy One of God. The ministry of Jesus is just beginning, he is teaching with authority, and already his reputation is spreading far and wide.

We gather in the presence of Jesus our teacher, and first as for His loving mercy and forgiveness.

Reflection

There may be many times when we fall over. Sometimes we injure ourselves; some falls leave little damage.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is recognised, but not by someone who has understood and accepted his truth and authority. Instead he is correctly identified by “an unclean spirit”, who then publicly misinterprets Jesus’ mission. Jesus wanted his listeners to come to him through truth and through faith. He had come to build and to heal, not to knock down and destroy.

The falls that cause most harm are the ones that hurt us inside, often where nobody can see. Those are often the most difficult injuries, demanding great courage if we are to stand and face the world. Yet, without that strength, we cannot walk. We cannot face the future if we build it on a lie. Our world is full of false prophets who would draw us away from the truth towards dangers, which may look attractive from a distance. The only time that we really fall and injure ourselves is when we sin and fall away from God. If we listen to Jesus, then we have no need to fear anything that might happen to our physical bodies. Inside our souls, where it matters most, there we are safe and well.


Monday 1st Week in Ordinary Time (Year II)
Introduction

In the first reading today, we have the beginning of the sad story from the Book of Samuel about how Hannah is tormented because she has no children.

Then in the Gospel we hear the beginning of the ministry of Jesus according to the Gospel of Mark. Jesus is now calling people to himself to follow him.

We gather in God’s presence and ask for his loving mercy and forgiveness.

Reflection

J.K. Rowling’s stories about Harry Potter begin with a stark contrast between someone’s derision and another’s compassion. Harry lives miserably with the Dursley family who regard him as an oddity, banish him to a cupboard under the stairs and allow their spoiled son Dudley to taunt him. But Harry is rescued by the kindly Hagrid, given the wise tutelage of Professor Dumbledore and finds a true welcome among the generous Weasley family.

In today’s first reading, Hannah is derided and scorned by someone among her own household. She was one of two wives living with Elkanah at a time when bigamy was permitted. Being childless, she was treated with scorn by the other wife, Peninnah. Hannah was regarded as someone whom God had cursed. Having a child in her culture was taken as a tangible sign of God’s blessing. Her husband Elkanah, though, seems kind and compassionate. His love for Hannah shines through; he reflects God’s love for her. However, it didn’t remove her pain completely. It was hard for her to believe that God cared.

People who are regarded as “different” are, sadly, often the object of other people’s scorn. Remember the story that Jesus told about the Pharisee who· began his prayers by contrasting himself favourably with a lowly tax collector. Yet everyone is loved by God, but because of others’ scorn some people may find it hard to believe. Hannah’s story challenges us to be more like Elkanah and less like Peninnah, and to treat others as we would wish to be treated.


Sunday 9th January  –  Baptism of the Lord  –  2022
Introduction

Today we celebrate the feast-day of the Baptism of the Lord. On Thursday we celebrated the coming of the Magi to the infant Jesus, today we celebrate the last day of Christmas with the Baptism of Jesus. This marks the end of Christmastime and the beginning of Ordinary time, when Jesus begins His public ministry.

It is a reminder to us that as God’s baptised children, we have a role to play in bringing Jesus to the world. By virtue of our baptism, we all have a vocation by which we bring Jesus to the world.

So we begin, by placing ourselves in the presence of Jesus and ask for His loving mercy and forgiveness in our lives.

Sermon

In October 1958 Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli spoke of his shock at being elected as the new Pope and from then on was known as Pope John XXIII. Within a few hours of his election, he told his advisors that the first thing he wanted to do was to visit the large prison on the outskirts of Rome called ‘Regina Caeli’. However, his advisors gently suggested to him that he would have to do some other things first. So it was not until a couple of months later, at Christmas, that Pope John was able to visit the prisoners.

The new Pope very quickly won the hearts of the prisoners. He told them, “I come among you, as Joseph your brother”, and told them of his own family who themselves had been caught on the wrong side of the law. He told them too how things can change, how people can change, and explained to them, “I want to see the world through your eyes.” 

It was not just what Pope John said that was important, it was the fact that he was there, that he had come among them, as one like them, that really touched their hearts.

But what has this got to do with our feast day, the Baptism of the Lord. It is that Pope John by his words and actions was doing the very same thing as Jesus today in his Baptism. God came into our world, to associate himself with sinners, to befriend them, to try and help them change. He even was willing to be baptised like them, to show his solidarity with them.

The baptism of John the Baptist was obviously not the Sacrament of Baptism that we know. For John the Baptist, it was an expression of the people’s sorrow for their sins and a desire for God’s forgiveness. So why did Jesus feel the need to join in this expression of sorrow, why did He line himself up with the throngs of sinners, waiting to be baptised by John. After all Jesus is the utterly sinless one, He had no need to go through such a ceremony. And yet, without any hesitation he takes His place in the queue, and makes Himself at one with humanity.

The actions of Jesus, like the actions of Good Pope John XXIII speak a powerful message to us. God stands shoulder to shoulder with sinners. We have nothing to be afraid of. Certainly we have to try and change our ways, show our sorrow and walk more faithfully with God. But as long as we are trying, God is by our side. Yes at times we fall, but like Jesus carrying His cross, let us stand up again and keep walking, confident that in every step God is with us.

And equally, let us not keep ourselves away from God by keeping ourselves away from sinners, thinking that we are better than them. Let us try and show the same love and compassion that we are selves need. Let us like Pope John show them that things can change, that people can change, and with Jesus both we and they are the children of God.