You Are Christ’s Body

Jesus is truly the fulfillment of the Old Covenant of God with his people. He is the completion of which the Law and Prophets pointed and anticipated. St. Luke tells us in his Gospel that near the beginning of his ministry, Jesus, who customarily attended and taught in the synagogue, was handed a particular scroll of Scripture and then proclaimed a particular prophecy from Isaiah: “’The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.’ Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, ‘Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.’” (NAB, LK 4:18-21)

We who are followers of Jesus, are called to fulfill that same prophecy. We are called to bring the Good News to our world, to open the eyes of the blind with the light of Christ, to proclaim true freedom and liberty to the imprisoned and oppressed, and to lift up the poor. As Christians, we have died with Christ in Baptism, and so we now live in his Spirit, as members of the One Body of Christ. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. Now the body is not a single part, but many.” (1COR 12:13-14) St. Paul also offers this reminder: “You are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.” (12:27)

We are the Body of Christ and Temples of the Holy Spirit, and as such, we are to carry out and accomplish the mission and promise to be fulfilled through his coming. In a sense, we are the hands, eyes, ears, mouth, feet, and heart of Jesus. We are in this world to bring his ministry and Good News of Love to our hurting and confused world. We must hear the cries of the financially and spiritually poor, and accommodate their needs. We must hold and console the suffering, grieving, and dying. We must teach and bring about true freedom for those who are spiritually and physically oppressed and imprisoned. Love compels us to proclaim the Word of God, the Truth revealed to humanity, through our words and actions in this lost world of ours. To withhold the true teachings of God from our families, friends, and neighbors is to withhold Jesus himself. It is of no service, and is absolutely contrary to love, to avoid truth by softening or avoiding the uncomfortable teachings of our Lord. Our God is One God, indivisible, and cannot be divided against himself. His Love and his Truth are one in the same.

Heavenly Father, give me your grace and the courage I need to proclaim your Truth in my world. I will not fear the lies of this world, for you are always with me, you, who have conquered sin and death and opened the doors to eternal life. Your Spirit dwells within me, and my hands, my feet, my mouth, my ears, and my eyes are yours. Take my heart as well, and use them according to your will and for your glory. Amen.

Click for Mass Readings.

Jesus, Intercessor

Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.” (NAB, HEB 7:25) How incredible it is that our Lord, Jesus Christ, constantly intercedes on our behalf, not only as our High Priest, but as the Son of God. His intercession for us is perfect, just as he himself is perfect in holiness and righteousness, the sinless, unblemished Sacrificial Lamb of God. The Letter to the Hebrews continues: “It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens. He has no need, as did the high priests, to offer sacrifice day after day, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did that once for all when he offered himself.” (7:26-27)

God gave himself to us so that we might give ourselves to him. Our unity with God is made possible through the perfection made possible through the one-time, perpetual, and eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, who humbled himself as Son of God, becoming one like us. We cannot make ourselves worthy or holy, but it is through the transforming power of Jesus that we become worthy and holy as sons and daughters of God the Father. It is not our merits, rather, it his perfection that brings us to perfection in the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven, and we cooperate with God’s grace in our daily struggle to humble ourselves and unite our will to his: “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jesus, you are my Intercessor, my great High Priest, who sacrificed yourself out of love for me. Give me the grace and humility I need to relinquish my will, so as to unite myself completely with you. Allow me to trust in your infinite love and give me confidence in knowing that whatever happens to me is for my good and your glory. Amen.

Click for Mass Readings.

My Withered Soul

There are only five (some scholars believe six) healing stories of Jesus that took place on the Sabbath. The first one, which is the only one to appear in all three Synoptic Gospels, is the healing of the withered hand. The oldest rendition of the story is likely the one in the Gospel of Mark: “Again, [Jesus] entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. He said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Come up here before us.’ Jesus [then] said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out and his hand was restored.” (NAB, MK 3:1, 3, 5)

The man who needed healing was searching, not necessarily for a restored hand, but for God. He came to the synagogue on the Holy Sabbath, as he was, lame hand and all, to worship and to encounter God, his Creator. We are all somewhat like this man; we all need healing. We might not have a withered, useless hand, but some part(s) of us have become lame, fruitless, and less than desirable. God wants to heal them. God wants to heal us.

Heavenly Father, you who are Creator of the Universe, and who are also the infinitely loving, Divine Healer, heal my withered soul. You know my infirmities, You know my weaknesses, and You know those parts of me that are most in need of your healing touch. Touch me. Heal me. Free me from my defects, so that I may more fully love and serve your Son, Jesus, by loving and serving those around me. Amen.

Click for Mass Readings.

Jesus, Lord

During the time of Jesus, the religious leaders had created countless rules, regulations, and laws that directed and conformed the behaviors of the Jewish people. There were nearly 40 categories of rules and forbidden activities solely related to the Sabbath, the Day of Rest established by God. By strictly regulating what one could and could not do, and creating heavy burdens of obligation on God’s people, the Pharisees had essentially established themselves as lord and ruler of God’s Day of Rest.

Mark’s Gospel presents a confrontation between these leaders and Jesus, as the Pharisees seek to reinforce their authority and enforcement regarding how one is to behave on the Sabbath. “As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?’ [Jesus] said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’” (NAB, MK 23-24, 27-28)

Jesus was making clear who is the true Lord of the Sabbath, not the Pharisees or any other religious leaders, but God alone. Jesus was making clear that He, the maker and giver of the Law, is the correct one to interpret the Law. Jesus, in fact, was ushering in a New Law, a New Covenant, a fulfillment all the prophecies and revelations that God had given. This New Testament is revealed in the Good News of Jesus Christ, our Lord, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the One True God of Creation. We worship a God of love, not laws, and when the laws of man conflict with the Law of Love, our loyalties must be clear.

Jesus, you were present at the very dawn of Creation. All that is, was spoken into being by you, the Word present, for your word is Truth. Your word is also Love. Help me to bring that same love and truth to those I encounter in my daily activities, so that they may also experience your peace, mercy, and love, and may you forever be glorified through your servants. Amen.

Click for Mass Readings.

Jesus, High Priest

The Jewish High Priest held the holiest social and religious position among the people. He offered daily sacrifices at the Temple, served as an advocate for the people in prayers to God, and was a consultant on all major decisions in the community. On the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, the High Priest performed all of the Temple ceremonies by himself, and only on this day, he would enter the Holy of Holies, the inner chamber of the Temple, to offer sacrifices for the atonement of his sins and those of the people. This sacrifice was meant to cover over their sins.

St. Paul reminds us that Jesus is our High Priest (cf. HEB 5:1-10). Whereas the priests of the Jewish Temple would continuously offer bloody sacrifices, the blood of Jesus would be offered only once, for all time, as the Eternal Sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins, not a covering over them, but the complete cleansing and renewal of our souls that frees us to choose eternal life. Jesus’s Paschal sacrifice is the perfection of that of the High Priests and of the Priest Melchizedek, the first to offer the unbloodied sacrifice of bread and wine to Almighty God. The offering of his Precious Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine is his continuous and eternal gift to us.

Let us come to recognize Jesus as the True High Priest, the one who offered himself as the perfect, unblemished sacrifice, as he poured out his blood and offered his body and flesh for the forgiveness of our sins. Perfect and sinless though he was, he gave himself up out of love for us and “he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (NAB, HEB 5:10)

Jesus, I cannot comprehend or understand the depth of your love for me, but I am grateful. Thank you for loving me and giving your sinless self as a sacrifice so that I, a wretched and underserving sinner, may live forever in Eternal Paradise. May you be my True High Priest, the one from whom I seek advice, counsel, and teaching, the one to whom I give glory and praise, and the one in whom I find peace, joy, and life itself. Amen.

Click for Mass Readings.

Do Whatever He Says

It is fitting that the first public miracle performed by Jesus took place during a local wedding feast. Feasts and banquets pervade the New Testament scriptures, including of course, the Wedding Feast to which we are invited, the heavenly and eternal banquet with our Father. Each Mass is in fact, a participation of the Heavenly Eucharist initiated by Jesus at the Last Supper. It is not a repetition of the event, but is a real participation in the one-time Pascal Sacrifice by our Lord and Savior.

The Gospel of John tells us that while Jesus, his family, and his disciples were attending this wedding in Cana, “the wine ran short, [and] the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’” (NAB, JN 2:3-5) Mary, who had some role in the supervision of the servants, gives clear direction to them, and to us, to do the will of her son, Jesus.

Mary, in her simplicity of faith, trusts in the will and actions of Jesus. Mary points to the Lord. She does not come up with her own plan regarding a problem of which she’s concerned, but instead relies on the love and compassion of God’s Only Son. Mary is the example par excellence of discipleship, as she comes to Jesus with her concerns; she tells him the “problem,” and then leaves it to him for resolution. Mary, the Mother of God, does not claim a position of superiority, demanding and arguing for her position; rather, in her incredible humility, she abandons her concerns at the feet of Jesus, and then, in perhaps the simplest and most direct instructions possible, Mary provides THE Key to Discipleship: “Do whatever he tells you.

The Miracle at Cana happens through faith, trust, and obedience, when Jesus turns the water gathered by servants into wine, not ordinary wine, but choice wine. The transforming power of Jesus, when the problem is solved according to his will, results in a situation that is even better than what it had originally been. By trusting Jesus, by doing what he says, and by obediently following him, Jesus transforms our lives to heavenly heights never before imagined.

Jesus, I trust in you. Increase my faith, that I may obediently follow you as I am transformed into the person whom you created me to be, a person far greater and more beautiful than can be imagined. Help me to recognize that I am a Child of the Kingdom, as my hope of heavenly reward is fulfilled in my daily journey of loving you and loving those in my life. Give me strength and courage when I am weak, that I may do whatever you ask, according to your will and for your glory. Amen.

Click for Mass Readings.

Be Healed

Many of the “religious” folks at the time of Jesus were scandalized that he would associate with people who were viewed as unholy or undesirable.  Mark’s Gospel tells us that, “While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus heard this and said to them, ‘Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.’” (NAB, MK 2”15-17) The religious leaders failed to see their own sinfulness and so also did not recognize the need for a savior; their judgmental view of the world blinded them from the truth.

When we are able to recognize ourselves as sinners, grace opens our eyes to see that we are the sick to whom the Son of God came to save. Jesus wants to sit and eat with us. He calls us to the Lamb’s Supper as he calls us to conversion, and we need not be afraid or embarrassed. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely healing.” (HEB 4:14-16) God is calling us today, just as he called Matthew and all of his disciples; “Come, follow me.” Jesus calls us to conversion, to recognize that we are in need of healing because of our sins, and then to receive his grace, that grace we need to change our lives and live in constant pursuit of holiness. Jesus calls us to himself. Let us answer that call.

Jesus, I hear your call. I know that I am a sinner. I know that I need the healing that only comes from you. Forgive me. Give me the wisdom to see my sins and defects, the heart to be truly sorry, the courage to confess all that I’ve done, the heart to receive your love, mercy, and grace, and the determination and strength to live in that same grace, according to your Law and Covenant of Love. Amen.

Click for Mass Readings.