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Daily Mass Reflections - 1/23/19

Updated on January 21, 2021

“Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" ~ Mark 3:4

In today’s Gospel (Mark 3:1-6), we once again witness Jesus employing the gift of physical healing against the larger divine and eternal backdrop of spiritual healing. Upon encountering a man with a withered hand, Jesus called him up before the Pharisees, knowing full well that they were watching very closely to see if he would cure the man on the Sabbath, which was unlawful.

Hardness of heart and justice take center stage here. In healing the man of his physically deformed hand, Jesus was in actuality trying to heal the Pharisees of their spiritually deformed souls. In choosing to obsess over a legal code rather than being touched by the plight of a fellow human being, the Pharisees hard heartedness is on display. They certainly fall short of loving their neighbor as themselves and what they believe to be important in this instance is the complete antithesis of what Jesus and his ministry stood for or deemed to be important.

On the heels of yesterday’s Sabbath Gospel Controversy (Mark 2:23-38) wherein Jesus makes it clear that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” and that “this is why the son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath,” it’s clear that Jesus is bringing about radical and sweeping change, a change rooted in the truth as taught to us by God the Father through his Son, and soon through the working of the Holy Spirit. How did the Pharisees respond to this change? We’re told in Scripture that they immediately took counsel with the Herodians against Jesus in order to put him to death.

I guess it’s safe to say they weren’t big fans of change.

In a world in which the truth of the Christian Faith has so drastically fallen out of favor in lieu of secularism and moral relativism, it is clear that there are many who seek similar remedies in response to the teachings of Jesus. Standing up for the truth had become almost as difficult as it is vital. But through wisdom and fortitude coupled with the love and grace of God, we can in fact fight the good fight, “competing well for the faith” as Saint Paul said in the waning moments of his life. On a day in which the Church recognizes Saint Vincent of Saragossa, one of her lesser known albeit more courageous martyrs for the faith, we are given a real life, honest to goodness example of this wise and brave faith that each and every one of us can aspire to. In addition to the Communion of Saints, the Gospel is of course another mighty weapon that we can use in defense of the word, for within them are the stories and teachings of Jesus, the very word of God made flesh himself.

“Dear God, give me the gift of courage. I need courage before men against their threats and against the evil one against his seductions. I need courage to bear unkindness, mockery, and contradiction. I need courage to fight against terrors and troubles, temptations,
darkness and false lights, and above all fear.
Strengthen me with Your love and Your grace.
Console me with Your blessed Presence
and grant me the courage to persevere
until I am with You forever in heaven.” ~ Amen

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