Gospel Meditations

GOSPEL MEDITATION FOR
24 FEBUARY, 2017, FRIDAY OF 7TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
BY REV FR ERBIN FERNANDEZ, SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR, CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY CENTRE (CSC)
COPYRIGHTS RESERVED.

“FROM THE BEGINNING OF CREATION GOD MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE” (MARK 10:6)

GOSPEL: MARK 10:1-12

http://www.universalis.com/20170224/mass.htm

(I sense Jesus wanting to meet me. I prayerfully call upon the Holy Spirit to be present. I prayerfully read today’s gospel passage slowly once through. I sit in silence for a few minutes with the gospel text. I now pray through the following meditation. I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me, pausing wherever I need to.)

“Divorce was a burning question, a crux of rabbinic discussion, and it may well be that they honestly wished for Jesus’ opinion on it. The Pharisees may have wished to test his orthodoxy. Jesus in the gospel of Matthew already spoke about marriage and re-marriage, and it may be that these Pharisees had the hope that he might contradict himself and entangle himself in his own words. It may well be that they wished to hear Jesus contradict the law of Moses, as indeed he did, and thereby to formulate a charge of heresy against him. One thing is certain–the question they asked Jesus was no academic one of interest only to the rabbinic schools. It was a question which dealt with one of the acutest issues of the time. In theory nothing could be higher than the Jewish ideal of marriage. Chastity was held to be the greatest of all the virtues. “We find that God is long-suffering to every sin except the sin of un-chastity.” “Un-chastity causes the glory of God to depart.” “Every Jew must surrender his life rather than commit idolatry, murder or adultery.” “The very altar sheds tears when a man divorces the wife of his youth.” The ideal was there but practice fell very far short.”

As a priest I am deeply aware that when I refer to Christian marriage often in my teachings or homilies there will be a fair number of people in the congregation who have with them the scar of divorce. The reasons for divorce can range from a lack of preparation for marriage to the infidelity of one spouse. Divorce in the time of Christ was as common as it is today. “In fact, in Jewish law a woman was regarded as a thing. She had no legal rights whatever but was at the complete disposal of the male head of the family. The result was that a man could divorce his wife on almost any grounds, while there were very few on which a woman could seek divorce. At best she could only ask her husband to divorce her. “A woman may be divorced with or without her will, but a man only with his will.” The only grounds on which a woman could claim a divorce were if her husband became a leper, if he engaged in a disgusting trade such as that of a tanner, if he ravished a virgin, or if he falsely accused her of prenuptial sin. At least the rights of woman are more protected now than before.

“Jesus quoted the Mosaic regulation, and then he said that Moses laid that down only “to meet the hardness of your hearts.” Meaning that Moses laid it down in order to try to control a situation which even then was degenerating, that in fact it was not so much a permission to divorce as it was in the beginning an attempt to control divorce, to reduce it to some kind of law, and to make it more difficult. The real essence of the passage is that Jesus insisted that the loose sexual morality of his day must be mended. Those who sought marriage only for pleasure must be reminded that marriage is also for responsibility. Those who regarded marriage simply as a means of gratifying their physical passions must be reminded that it was also a spiritual unity. Jesus was building a rampart round the home.”[1]

Jesus was trying to bring into focus the original plan of God for marriage in connection with the established harmony in creation. In Genesis two, after God had brought the entire creation before man, not a single suitable partner could be found in all creation for man. Hence a hierarchy of existence was established and its crown was to be a woman which was drawn from the side of man.  The couple was to practise stewardship over all the creation. It is when the couple fails in their discernment before the lies of the serpent (the Devil) that chaos enters into creation.  Man is set in opposition with all creation and with one another. The deep divisions in society find its roots in the sexual tension between man and woman that must be reconciled through, with and in Jesus hence the Sacrament of marriage. Christian marriage is a sign of God’s love made flesh!  For all to see. Every couple is called to establish the household of faith into which through their ordinary encounters, people experience the love of God for them in tangible, simple ways. If you are married or called to this state of life … are you aware of the ministry of reconciliation that you are called to for the whole world?

Action: Today I will affirm and bless those in the married vocation. I will also seek a blessing from them.

(I journal: What phrase touched me today? What is Jesus inviting me to live today? I ask for a specific grace for today.)

 

GOSPEL MEDITATION FOR
23 FEBUARY, 2017, THURSDAY OF 7TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
BY REV FR ERBIN FERNANDEZ, SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR, CATHOLIC SPIRITUALITY CENTRE (CSC)
COPYRIGHTS RESERVED.

“TO BRING DOWN ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES WHO HAVE FAITH” (MARK 9:42)

GOSPEL: MARK 9:41-50

http://www.universalis.com/20170223/mass.htm

(I sense Jesus wanting to meet me. I prayerfully call upon the Holy Spirit to be present. I prayerfully read today’s gospel passage slowly once through. I sit in silence for a few minutes with the gospel text. I now pray through the following meditation. I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me, pausing wherever I need to.)

The gospel today declares that `any kindness shown, any help given, to the people of Christ will not lose its reward.  The reason for helping is that the person in need belongs to Jesus. Every man in need has a claim upon us because he is dear to Christ.  Had Jesus still been here in the flesh, He would have helped that man in the most practical way and the duty of help has devolved on us.  It is to be noted how simple the help is. The gift is a cup of cold water. We are not asked to do great things for others, things beyond our power.  We are asked to give the simple things that any man can give.  Hence, it is not the action in itself that we should be focused on but the love in the action itself.  This point about love in small things is especially important in the formation of children; for when we don’t do right when they are young, the consequences can be dire for all concerned.  This is why Jesus warns sternly against “anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith”.  The startling point to note is that Jesus acknowledges the implicit faith that is already borne in the hearts of children – which is why it makes the crime against children all the more heinous!

“There is the story of a little girl whose mother was dead.  Her father used to come home from work and sit down and take off his jacket and open his paper and light his pipe and put his feet on the mantelpiece.  The little girl would come in and ask him to play with her for a little for she was lonely.  He told her he was tired, to let him be at peace.  He told her to go out to the street and play.  She played on the streets.  The inevitable happened – she took to the streets. The years passed on and she died.  Her soul arrived in heaven. Peter saw her and said to Jesus, “Master, here’s a girl who was a bad lot. I suppose we send her straight to hell?”  ”No,” said Jesus gently, “let her in. Let her in.”  And then his eyes grew stern, “But look for a man who refused to play with his little girl and sent her out to the streets – and send him to hell.” God is not hard on the sinner, but he will be stern to the person who makes it easier for another to sin, and whose conduct, either thoughtless or deliberate, puts a stumbling-block in the path of the weaker one.”[1]

How about us today?  Are we more aware of our sins of commission rather than of our sins of omission?  In other words, are we more aware of what we do rather than what we failed to do?  While we make it a point to confess the sin of lust, do we ever speak about how we withhold love from our children or parents?  How we crucify them with our hostile looks or snide remarks that hurt them deeply.  While we confess our sins of anger towards office colleagues, do we ever speak of the deep judgements in our hearts against them or how we refrain from speaking about Christ to them or even praying for them?  We truly need to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves in order to reveal all the false attitudes in our hearts that betray the true meaning of Christian identity.  Let us decide today – “to cut it off”.

Action: Today I will affirm a child, young person or young adult in need of encouragement.

(I journal: What phrase touched me today? What is Jesus inviting me to live today? I ask for a specific grace for today.)