Feb 4-9: Mk 5: 1-20: 1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of Gerasenes. 2 And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain; 4 for he had often been bound with fetters and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out, and bruising himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped him; 7 and crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” 10 And he begged him eagerly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; 12 and they begged him, “Send us to the swine, let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them leave. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the swine; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and were drowned in the sea. 14 The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 …20.
The context: Today’s Gospel episode demonstrates Jesus’ power over the devil in a Gentile town of the Decapolis, east of the Jordan, called Gadara (Matthew), or Gerasa (Mark and Luke). A demon possessed man (two men in Matthew), came out of a tomb-filled desolate place. The demons, recognizing Jesus as the Son of God, begged Him to send them into a herd of swine. The possessed man’s demons named themselves Legion (ca 5000 men), indicating their number. Jesus did as the evil spirits requested, and the now-possessed swine ran down the slope and drowned in the sea. The frightened people of the city asked Jesus to leave their city. The people considered their swine more precious than the liberation given to the possessed. If we have a selfish or materialistic outlook, we fail to appreciate the value of Divine things, and we push God out of our lives, begging Him to go away, as these people did.
Life messages: 1) We need to come out of our tombs: Jesus is calling us to come out of the tombs. Our tombs are the closed-in, sealed-off areas of our hearts where Life in the Spirit of God has died because we haven’t let Jesus minister to us through others. Such ungodly persons are lonely. They try to fill their inner emptiness by packing their lives with money, promiscuity, addictions or workaholism.
2) Jesus the Liberator is ready to free us from the tombs of our evil addictions and habits. Let us give Jesus a chance and experience the joy and freedom of the children of God. (Fr. Tony Kadavil) L/19
Feb 5 Tuesday St. Agatha, Virgin, Martyr): Mk 5: 21-43:about him; and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, 23 and besought him, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.”29 And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, `Who touched me?'” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” 35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi”; which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”42 And immediately the girl got up and walked (she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
The context: Today’s Gospel is a beautiful presentation of two miracles, a healing, and a revival and restoration of life. These miracles were worked by Jesus as rewards for the trusting Faith of a synagogue ruler and of a woman with a hemorrhage. Though the ruler trusted Jesus out of desperation and the woman’s Faith was a bit superstitious, even their defective Faith was amply rewarded.
The ruler and the woman: The ruler of the synagogue supported Jewish orthodoxy. He could have despised Jesus who befriended sinners. But he bravely approached Jesus as a last resort when all the doctors had failed, and his daughter was dying. Since the Jews believed that one was not actually dead until three days had passed after he stopped breathing, when word came that the child had died, the ruler showed courage and Faith in staying with Jesus, ignoring the ridicule of fellow-Jews. In the same way, the woman with the bleeding disease was ritually unclean, and she was not supposed to appear in public. She had the courage and Faith to ignore a social and religious taboo in order to approach and touch the garment of Jesus from behind. Both the ruler’s child and the sick woman were brought back to life and to the community.
Life message: 1) Jesus accepts us as we are. Hence, we need not wait until we have the correct motive and strong Faith to bring our problems before Jesus. Let us bring before him our bodily and mental wounds and ask for his healing touch today. (Fr. Tony Kadavil) L/19
Feb 6 Wednesday (St. Paul Miki and companions, Martyrs): Mk 6: 1-6: (Mt 13:54-58): The context: Today’s Gospel passage describes the painful indifference Jesus met in his audience and the jealous, hurtful comments Jesus heard when he started preaching in the synagogue of his hometown Nazareth as a carpenter-turned-Rabbi with a band of his own disciples.
A prophet without honor: The people of Nazareth literally jammed the synagogue, eager to see their familiar carpenter-turned-miracle-working preacher, Jesus, working miracles as he had done in neighboring towns and villages. But they were jealous, incredulous and critical which prevented Jesus from doing miraculous healings. They were jealous of the extraordinary ability of a former carpenter without formal education in Mosaic Law to give a powerful and authoritative interpretation of their Holy Scriptures. A carpenter’s profession was considered low in social ranking. Besides, they could not accept a prophet coming from so low a family background as Jesus’ was, nor could the accept his blasphemous claim to be the promised messiah. Jesus’ relatives, known to them, were equally unimportant people. Over and above all, Jesus started pointing out to them their unbelief, citing examples of the famous prophets Elijah and Elisha favoring faith-filled Gentiles over unbelieving Jews.
Brothers and sisters of Jesus: “Ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and other languages had no special words for different degrees of relationship, such as are found in more modern languages. In general, all those belonging to the same family, clan and even tribe were brethren. Jesus had different kinds of relatives, in two groups–some on his mother’s side, others on St. Joseph’s. Matthew 13:55-56 mentions, as living in Nazareth, “His brethren” James, Joses, Simon and Judas, and elsewhere there is reference to Jesus’ sisters (cf. Matthew 6:3). But in Matthew 27:56 we are told that James and Joses were sons of a Mary distinct from the Blessed Virgin, and that Simon and Judas were not brothers of James and Joses, but seemingly children of a brother of St. Joseph or St. Joseph’s children from a previous marriage. Jesus, on the other hand, was known to everyone as the son of Mary (Mark 6:3) or the carpenter’s son (Matthew 13:55). The Church has always maintained as absolutely certain that Jesus had no brothers or sisters in the full meaning of the term: it is a dogma that Mary was ever-Virgin” (Navarre Bible Commentary).
Life messages: 1) Perhaps we have experienced the pain of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, violated trust, neglect or abuse from our own friends and relatives. On such occasions, let us face rejection with prophetic courage and optimism. 2) Let us not, like the people in Jesus’ hometown, reject God in our personal lives. 3) Our country needs to hear God’s Truth from Spirit-filled Christians with the prophetic courage of their convictions. 4) Trusting Faith in the Divinity and goodness of Christ is essential if Jesus is to work miracles in our personal lives. In addition, we need to be docile to the Holy Spirit living within us so that He may work miracles in our lives. 5) When we are challenged by the Gospel and by the Church, we should be thankful and should not allow the prophetic voice of the Church die in our hearts. (Fr. Tony) L/19
Feb 7 Thursday: Mk 6: 7-13: 7 And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and preached that men should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.
The context: Today’s Gospel describes the commissioning of the twelve Apostles. They were sent out in pairs with power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. They were to preach the coming of the Kingdom of God, repentance, the forgiveness of sins and liberation. They were also expected to follow Jesus’ detailed action plan.
Jesus’ instructions and travel tips. From his instructions, it is clear that Jesus meant his disciples to take no supplies for the road. They were simply to trust that God, the provider, would open the hearts of believers to take care of their needs. Jesus’ instructions also suggest that his disciples should not be like the acquisitive priests of the day, who were interested only in gaining riches. His disciples should be walking examples of God’s love and providence. The Jews supported their rabbis and judged doing so a privilege as well as an obligation, because hospitality was an important religious tradition in Palestine. The Apostles should choose temporary accommodation in a reputable household, should bless the residents with God’s peace, should be satisfied with the food and accommodation they had received, and should not search for better ones. They were to preach “’the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,’ heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons.”
Life messages: 1) We have a witnessing mission: Each Christian is called not only to be a disciple but also to be an apostle, bearing witness to Christ. As apostles, we have to evangelize the world by sharing with others not just words, or ideas or doctrines, but our experience of God and His Son, Jesus. It is through our transparent Christian lives that we must show Jesus, whom we have experienced, to others as unconditional love, overflowing mercy, forgiveness and concern for the people around us. 2) We also have a liberating mission. There are many demons which can control the lives of people around us making them helpless slaves —the demon of nicotine, the demon of alcohol, the demon of gambling, the demon of pornography and promiscuous sex, the demon of materialism and consumerism. We need the help of Jesus to liberate ourselves and others from these demons. (Fr. Tony Kadavil) L/19
Feb 8 Friday (St. Jerome Emiliani: St. Josephine Bakhita): Mk 6:14-29: 14 King Herod heard of it; for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” 17 For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; because he had married her. 18 For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. 21 But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. 22 For when Herodias’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.” 23 And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24 And she went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25 And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her….29
The context: Today’s Gospel presents the last scene of a tragic drama with three main characters, Herod, Herodias and John the Baptist. Herod was a jealous and weak puppet-king with a guilty conscience. He feared the prophet John, because John had publicly scolded him for divorcing his legal wife without adequate cause and for marrying his sister-in-law Herodias, thus committing a double violation of Mosaic Law. Herodias was an immoral and greedy woman, stained by a triple guilt and publicly criticized by John. 1) She was an unfaithful woman of loose morals. 2) She was a greedy and vengeful woman. 3) She was an evil mother who used her teenage daughter for the evil purposes of murder and revenge by encouraging her to dance in public in the royal palace against the royal etiquette of the day. John the Baptist was a fiery preacher and the herald of the Promised Messiah. He was also a Spirit-filled prophet with the courage of his prophetic convictions who dared to criticize and scold an Oriental monarch and his proud wife in public.
God’s punishment: After the martyrdom of John, Herod was defeated by Aretas, the father of his first wife. Later, both Herod and Herodias were sent into exile by Caligula, the Roman emperor.
Life messages: 1) Our sins will haunt us, ruining our mental peace, as happened to Herod and Herodias. 2) Brutal sins against others will not go unpunished. (Fr. Tony Kadavil) L/19
Feb 9 Saturday: Mk 6: 30-34: 30 The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
The context: Today’s Gospel passage presents the sympathetic and merciful heart of Jesus who lovingly invites his Apostles to a desolate place for some rest. Jesus realized that the Apostles he had sent on a preaching and healing mission to neighboring towns and villages needed some rest on their return. He was eager to hear about their missionary adventures as they proudly shared their experiences. In no time, however, they were surrounded by the crowd, and Jesus resumed his preaching and teaching because he saw the crowd as sheep without shepherd.
Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus became a Good Shepherd. The Old Testament describes God as shepherd of His people, Israel. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want (Psalm 23:1). The prophet Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would feed his flock like a shepherd, he would gather the lambs in his arms (Isaiah 40:11). Jesus told his disciples that he was the Good Shepherd who was willing to lay down his life for his sheep. In his epistle, Peter calls Jesus the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1 Peter 2:25).
Life messages: 1) Let us show the mercy, compassion, care and concern of Jesus the Good Shepherd to those entrusted to our care. 2) Let us become good sheep of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, by leading pure, innocent, humble, selfless lives, obeying Christ’s commandment of love and gaining daily spiritual strength from the Body and Blood of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, in Holy Communion. (Fr. Tony Kadavil) L/19