MONDAY HOMILY: Christ's Whole Life is a Mystery of Redemption
In the outpouring of his presence, time and energy, we witness the manifestation of Jesus' burning desire to drive out sin and despair, and to bring pardon and peace.
SUGAR LAND, TX (Catholic Online). Normally, the Gospel selections for the weekday Mass feature a continuous unfolding of the Word of God. This year, Ordinary Time began with readings from the Gospel of St. Mark. There is an uninterrupted reading of that Gospel from then until now, with only a few departures from that norm.
The first exception is that the Lectionary omits the introductory account of Jesus' baptism and his forty-day sojourn in the desert. In addition, there are two Feast days that interrupt the flow of the readings: the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on January 25, and the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2.
There is one other deviation. The Lectionary editors omit the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Mark 6:35-44), and the account of Jesus walking on the water (Mark 6:45-52). Why are these verses left out?
Perhaps the editors wanted to emphasize Jesus' generosity in serving those who came to him for help, a quality that is stressed in the verses surrounding the omitted passages. Saturday's reading notes that Jesus "was moved with pity. for they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things" (Mark 6:34). In today's reading, the Gospel says that upon learning of Jesus' presence in their area, the local people "scurried about the surrounding country. to wherever they heard he was" (Mark 6:55).
Jesus never seems to have time to himself. In his human nature he needs rest as much as anyone else. Without it, Jesus experiences fatigue and exhaustion. And yet the Gospels relate how Jesus frequently overlooks his own personal needs - even very reasonable ones - in order to serve those around him.
"I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled" (Luke 12:49). In the outpouring of his presence, time and energy, we witness the manifestation of Jesus' burning desire to drive out sin and despair, and to bring pardon and peace. He makes many personal sacrifices in order to fulfill his divine mission: "For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).
Jesus is not motivated by a sense of philanthropic responsibility. His mission is deeper and more majestic. The Lord's words and miracles are great in themselves, but they are merely signs of something greater to come: the redemption of the human race from sin and death.
"Christ's whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross, but this mystery is at work throughout Christ's entire life: already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty; in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience; in his word which purifies its hearers; in his healings and exorcisms by which 'he took our infirmities and bore our diseases'; and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 517).
Jesus continues to work of redemption through his Church. The Church is "the sign and instrument" of God's union with the human race (see Catechism, no. 780). In the sacraments, "divine life is dispensed to us" and "bear fruit in those who receive them" with faith (Catechism, no. 1131).
We see a foreshadowing of the sacraments in today's Gospel. When the sick are brought before Jesus, they ask only to touch the "the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed" (Mark 6:56). Healing came to all who performed this gesture.
Power continues to flow out from Christ through the fonts of grace, which are his sacraments. As Lent approaches, we have the opportunity to revive and deepen our attachment to these channels of God's life and love. May we take advantage of it.
Fr. Stephen B. Reynolds is pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Sugar Land, TX, a suburb of Houston. You may hear his on-line homilies at the parish website: www.SugarLandCatholic.com
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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