Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 
Posted for February 8, 2015

The Gospel text we are given today follows immediately 
on from the one we heard last Sunday. You will 
remember that Jesus preached in the Synagogue and the 
people were astonished at his teaching because he spoke 
with authority. He then cast out some demons who had 
identified him as the Holy One of God.

Today’s text is a continuation of that same Sabbath day and Jesus goes on from the Synagogue to see Simon Peter’s mother in law who was in bed with a fever and he heals her. This seems straightforward enough until you realise that the words Mark uses are full of theological meaning.

The first thing is that Jesus takes her by the hand and helps her up. In other translations it says lifted her up and in yet others it says raised her up. Of course this is the same Greek word being translated by several different English words since we have a much wider vocabulary in English than they do in the Greek language.

The word that is used occurs in several other places in the Gospels referring to the resurrection when our bodies will be raised up. This then is an oblique reference to the resurrection; it is particularly relevant here because Peter’s mother in law was dangerously ill and could easily have died and so Christ by lifting her up is demonstrating what will happen when we actually do die and are raised up by God.

The other word used in a theological sense is where once she had got up she began serving them. The word used for serving is the same one that we use today for a Deacon because a Deacon is one who serves. So this is not so much meaning that she took up household duties as she began to serve the Christian community, in other words she began to exercise Christian ministry.

We can see how with his careful choice of wording Mark is indicating that there is a lot more going on here than we can see on the surface. The original Greek speaking Christians would have immediately understood the implications of this story and recognised that it was not so much about the lady in question as about the resurrection and Christian ministry.

After this story Mark tells us that after sunset the people brought the sick to Jesus for healing. This is important because the Sabbath Day ends at sunset and that meant that the people were allowed once again to carry burdens. Only after sunset were they free to carry their sick relatives and friends to Jesus for healing.

We can see that the strict regulations enforced on the Sabbath Day about what you could or couldn’t do were in practice quite counter-productive. These rules were introduced to help the people keep the Sabbath holy but they eventually get in the way and prevent the sick from being healed, which would surely be something that ought to have been regarded as a sacred work and therefore an entirely appropriate thing to be doing on the Sabbath.

As Mark’s account proceeds we will see how Jesus’ frequent breach of these strict Sabbath regulations provokes the authorities into doing away with him.

The work of healing the sick is accompanied by the casting out of devils. Jesus forbids the devils to speak because they knew who he was. Jesus does not want them to be constantly identifying him as the Messiah because he wants to reveal this to the people in his own way and at a time of his own choosing

Today we are a little shy about speaking of devils. Even those who are quite firm in their faith tend not to take devils very seriously. We regard them as something belonging to an earlier era, something appropriate to a more superstitious age. With our modern scientific mind-set we do not like to think of devils as being real.

This would be a mistake. I do not want to exaggerate the role of the devil or to suggest that demons are everywhere; but be sure that there is a battle against evil going on and the devil is busy enough in the modern world.

The devil is a representation of the powers of evil and these powers are as strong today as ever they were. Of course, we know that the battle against evil has already been won through the sacrifice of Jesus. But we know that this victory has not yet been fully worked out and will not come to its conclusion until the Last Day. So the devil is still alive and well; and certainly busy enough in the world of today.

He is very much present in a secular society which constantly seeks to minimise religion and to mock those who have faith. He is also present in a society which places a very high value on material objects as well as on things such as status or celebrity.

The vast increase in the amount of pornography available through the internet is a sure sign that the devil is very active in our world. We know quite well the pernicious and corrupting effect pornography has especially on young people, giving them warped ideas about human sexuality ultimately aiming to render them unfit for respectful human relationships.

Thirty years ago pornography was hard to find and we were a better society as a result. Today however we should not underestimate the addictive nature of pornography and the extremely strong grip it can have over a person.

So how do we fight the devil whatever form he takes? How do we cast him out? Well the answer is simple: we fight evil with good. We do the very things that the devil does not like and as a result he will in time go elsewhere.

The devil does not like us to pray which is why he tries to fill our heads with other things and distracts us from prayer. He definitely does not like us to go to mass which is why he makes us very sleepy on a Sunday morning and tells us that there are a lot of other things we should be doing rather than going to mass.

The devil is also responsible for putting all kinds of thoughts into our heads and temptations in our way. He certainly does not want us to abide by a strict moral code. He gets fed up when we take steps to resist temptation and when we set ourselves moral parameters.

So by praying, by going to mass, by abiding by a set of moral rules, by avoiding temptation; in all these ways we can protect ourselves from the tricks of the devil. And do not forget that we can also command him in the name of Christ to simply go away.

In short it is by living the kind of life that Jesus lived that will keep the devil away. Look at the Gospels, the devils were afraid of Jesus and he could command them to leave a person. What we need to do is to simply do the things Jesus does and we will be safe.

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
February 8, 2015

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—February 8, 2015
When Jesus met the first of His disciples, He asked, “What are you looking for?” (Jn 1:38). Today, Simon tells Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” What happened in between?

Gospel (Read Mk 1:29-39)

As we continue in St. Mark’s Gospel, we see that after Jesus left the synagogue in Capernaum, where He had taught and exorcised demons with great authority and power, He “entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.” Simon’s mother-in-law was quite sick. When He was told about it, Jesus “approached, grasped her by the hand, and helped her up.” She was healed.

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time:His Touch Demands Our Response
Today’s readings from scripture can raise a number of eyebrows.  My first reaction is: “What in the world was that all about?”  The first reading begins with a horrible quotation from the Book of Job.  “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?  Are not his days those of a hireling?”  Then it gets worse.  “My months are full of misery.  I can’t wait to get to bed, then I can’t wait to get up. I shall not see happiness again.” What a wonderful way to begin our Sunday.

Pope Francis: ‘The Gospel Has the Power to Change Life’
VATICAN CITY — In his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis pointed to the authority with which Jesus preached, saying that his words in the Gospel aren’t aimed to limit, but, rather, liberate us from evil and worldly spirits.

“The Gospel is the word of life: It does not oppress people, (but), on the contrary, it frees those who are enslaved by so many evil spirits in this world: vanity, the attachment to money, pride, sensuality,” the Pope told pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square on Feb. 1.

Trusting In God Completely
There are many lessons to be learned from reading Holy Scripture, but in my opinion, one of the most important lessons to be learned is that we humans should learn to totally trust in God to do what’s best for us, at all times, no matter how bleak the situation. Of course, the caveat that goes with that directive is that we should be obeying His Holy Word as well.

No one likes being told what to do all the time, but it’s different with God. With total trust in God, we can never fail in the long run, because He will always direct us to do the right thing.  The Bible says in Matthew 5:48 to “Be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.”

Christ and the Confidence that Comes From the Holy Spirit
Christ baptizes in the power of the Holy Spirit and his fire animates the Christian life with hope.  The Holy Spirit who moved over the waters of creation, who overshadowed the Virgin Mary, who descended on Christ at his Baptism, who carried the Crucified’s last wordless cry for our sake from the depths of His heart and into the Heart of the Father, who animates the Risen Body of Christ and who burns in the hearts of the apostles and the martyrs; He is the source of a hope so great no power in the heavens above or on the earth below can overcome it.

Choice vs. Reason
It is sometimes said that no one has a sufficient imagination or memory to be a consistent liar. A corollary is: Integrity is characteristic of any true explanation. A mark of the Church is that it is one, not only in charity (the act of the will), but one in the internal integrity of the faith and the integrity of the faith with the truths of philosophy (the act of reason).

The Three Most Profound Ideas I Have Ever Had
Ideas are more precious than diamonds. The three most precious ideas I have ever discovered all concern the love of God.

None of them is original. But every one is revolutionary. None of them came from me. But all of them came to me with sudden force and fire: the “aha!” experience, the “eureka!” experience. They were all realizations, not just beliefs.

Pray to God in Secret
“Go into your room” (Matt. 6:6) — that is, into the most private part of your home, or rather, go into the most in­timate place in your heart. Recollect yourself completely. “Shut the door” (Matt. 6:6). Shut your senses, and let no foreign thoughts enter. “Pray in secret.” Open your heart to God alone. Let him be the keeper of your innermost sorrows.

Adam and Eve: What Not to Do after You Have Sinned
Temptation has struck again. It may have been a mere pinprick of desire. Or it may have stormed your soul, leaving you shaken to your core. Either way, you gave in and sinned.

An instinctive response, at least for many of us, is to instantly recoil in shame from God. For someone earnestly seeking to lead a holy life dedicated to God, it can be embarrassing to admit that serious temptation—to any sin—still lurks in your soul and sometimes succeeds in ensnaring you. But the worst temptation is the temptation to cut God out of the picture at precisely the moment we are in most need of salvation.

“A Beautiful Work of the Holy Spirit”
Man likes to be in control, especially of  the Holy Spirit. Of course, most of us would deny trying to box in the Almighty, because we realize how ridiculous this sounds.  Yet, because we really do not like to change, we end up resisting even God.  We like our comfort zone. We especially don’t like the rug ripped from under us and that approach is usually how God must snag our attention.

The Holy Spirit is not stagnant. He is not the God of the past, but God of the present,  alive, a dynamic powerhouse seeking to heal, transform and draw us ever closer to His heart.

In His Name I Cast Thee Out…
The dangers of the Occult and the New Age are all around us. So too is the solution to the woes they drag in their wake. Such were the sentiments of someone I had met some time ago, a woman who specialised in freeing souls from those shackles. Recently, I set out to find her again, and this time to question her more closely.

Prepare Now for a Holy Lent
Lent is just around the corner. Have you made any preparations yet?

In our parish we are not having extra services, Bible studies, meetings and stuff to do.

Instead we are using new and old media to provide our people with a plethora of good materials so they can make their own Lent holy.

The Courage to Fail
The experience of getting things wrong is the incentive for getting them right.

                                                                 ~ Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.

Getting through nursing school is no small feat, I assure you.

If you’re a nurse yourself, you already know that, right? You remember what nursing school was like: The massive tomes you had to lug around, let alone read; the exams and skill check-offs; the ungodly clinical hours; the grumpy (sometimes) instructors; and, of course, getting acclimated to the (shall we say) “messiness” of day-to-day nursing.

Sober Scriptural Wisdom on Avoiding the Whirlwind of Lust
There is a marvelous chapter in the Book of Proverbs that ought to be studied by every young person who must live in this lustful world. It sets forth plainly the stance that any son or daughter of God should have regarding the lust so often celebrated by this age.

Obedience to God’s will brings wisdom, joy, hope, pope tells religious
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Total obedience to God’s will brings wisdom, joy and hope, Pope Francis told religious men and women.

“Yes, the happiness of a religious is a consequence of this path of lowering oneself with Jesus and, when we are sad, when we complain, it will do us well to ask ourselves how we are living this dimension of ‘kenosis'” or self-emptying, he said.

Co-Creators with Christ
God creates from nothing, we create using the stuff God supplies us. As creatures in his image and likeness, it is our right and proper office to be “sub-creators” as J.R.R. Tolkien called us. Therefore, teaching our children how to cooperate with God in the work of creation is a perfectly fitting job for us as Catholic parents.

Genesis points out five tasks given the human race in the Garden: marriage, fruitfulness, rule, work, and worship. In all these tasks, we become more fully human and, for the baptized, become more profound participants in the life of the Blessed Trinity through Christ. Let’s look at them briefly.

Being an Extraordinary Catholic is No Easy Task
Being an extraordinary Catholic is no easy task, but Randy Hain’s new book Joyful Witness – How To Be An Extraordinary Catholic gives examples and insights of just those Catholics – those joyful witnesses. These are people who, as Randy writes, have become “better versions of themselves.” Not everyone he writes about planned on being so extraordinary – it was grace and determined will that led them on their mission.

The Lord’s Prayer and a New Solidarity for Humanity
Although rancor, contention and strife threaten our communities and households, it is not delusional to believe that enmity, alienation and futility are not the last words concerning all that is good, noble and true about humanity. This is as true for our cultures and societies as it is for each one of us individually.  Indeed, in the face of our broken sinful habits, the quiet murmuring of the Lord’s prayer in the most forgotten alley in even the most heartless metropolis is a sign, like a flickering votive candle in a sanctuary, that misery is not limitless. Those words, “Our Father,” even when they rattle out from trembling lips at life’s final moment, declare an unvanquished hope that God Himself entrusted to the world.

Is There a “Fourth Secret” of Fatima?
Recently, I read a copy of a magazine with an article that claimed there was new information that (allegedly) proved that there was another text of the third part of the secret of Fátima. While reading this article and checking it against the text of a Portuguese book reference in the article, I noticed some discrepancies. The present article will discuss this claim of another text and the discrepancies.

For those who need a quick refresher, the following is an outline of events relative to the discussion at hand.

Remember the Last Things
In the context of the Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius invites his retreatants to meditate upon the Last things; however these last things should be among the most important things in our spiritual life.

In Spiritual Theology the technical word is “Eschatology” which means the study of the “Last Things.” Some authors write about the “four” last things; but we would like to add a fifth.

Why Having a Heart of Gold is Not What Christianity is About
Many atheists and agnostics today insistently argue that it is altogether possible for non-believers in God to be morally upright. They resent the implication that the denial of God will lead inevitably to complete ethical relativism or nihilism. And they are quick to point out examples of non-religious people who are models of kindness, compassion, justice, etc. In point of fact, a recent article has proposed that non-believers are actually, on average, more morally praiseworthy than religious people.

Lemons and Moons, or “How to Love”
When my grief counselor asked me to explain why I felt the loss of my mother so acutely, I couldn’t come up with my own language for it. It was all so natural and obvious to me. She was my mother! But not everyone has a mother like my mother, I learned, so first we had to define and discuss the relationship, and then we could delve into the ramifications of its earthly end.

Lessons From a Computer Analyst-Turned-Catholic School Teacher
“Live the Gospel every day. You may be the only Gospel that another person encounters that day.” — My father, who would often say this at the dinner table.

It has been eight years since I left a lucrative career as a computer and business consultant to start teaching at a Catholic high school. I left my former career for essentially two reasons: While I enjoyed what I did, there was only so much satisfaction to be gained from making companies more profitable, and, as a product of Catholic education, I believed God was calling me to do more with my talents.

Four saints in one family? Beatification Process of St. Therese of Lisieux’s
sister, opens
Pope Francis is a great devotee of St. Therese of Lisieux. Her parents, Louis and Zelie were beatified back in 2008. Now, the saint’s sister, Leonia is also being considered for sainthood. The priest leading her cause for canonization, talked about her life, in a video conference chat.

Proven Way to End Abortion
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy Can End Abortion

The March for Life 2015 may be over, but keep praying to end abortion. One of the most powerful prayers is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

That is right from St. Maria Faustina’s experience and teaching.

It’s time to realize the circumstances for which St. Faustina received the chaplet and how they tie into our present day.

An Examination of Conscience that really hits home
I found a copied booklet of an old Examination of Conscience in the things I save for later use.  If anyone can identify the author, please let me know.  The help given to examine one’s conscience with regards to loving our neighbor is invaluable, as you can see:

– Have I been unkind towards others?

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