January 13, 2005
Today we meditate
on freedom. Hebrews assures us that we are partners with Christ,
if we so choose. In the psalm we are asked to choose softened hearts. In Markís
gospel a leper tentatively approaches
Jesus. He is not free, according
to religious and cultural norms, to approach anyone. Yet a deeper
freedom urges him toward Jesus
and he challenges Jesusí freedom.
To touch a leper was to be made unclean, which the Jews define
as a "state of alienation from God," or in other words,
mortal sin. "If you choose," the leper says, "You
can make me clean." Jesus
touches the man and speaks clearly, directly: "I do choose.
Be made clean." Then Jesus
"sent him away at once" to perform the prescribed
ritual. "But the man went out and began to proclaim it
freely, and to spread the word...."
Would that, like the leper and Jesus,
we were soft enough of heart to break through the various rigidities
of religion and culture and follow our hearts!
why he broke the law and touched the leper. Ask the nameless
leper why he didnít obey Jesus.
Ask for a softened heart and the freedom to move according to
your heartís deepest desire, no matter who thinks what about
you. Do you want to be partner with Christ?
What might that mean in your life?
January 14, 2004
As if touching
a leper were not bad enough, now Jesus
will claim authority to forgive sins. His enemies watch, challenge
and begin to plot--and it is only chapter two of the gospel.
What makes Jesus so heedless
of the Law and leads him burn his bridges? Only
one criterion: love. Jesus
touches a leper out of love for the man. Today Jesus
forgives sin because he loves the paralytic and the manís four
friends. Think of the devotion of those friends both to the
paralytic and to Jesus. They
climb on top of a house, remove the roof tiles
and with strength born of love, raise their friend to the roof
and lower him down. †
loves you enough to bring you to Jesus?
Whom do you love that way, so much that nothing can interfere
with your love and your will to "get through" any
crowd or obstacle? Pray with that fierce devotion today for
those who love you and those whom you love. Bring them to Jesus.
January 15, 2005
the unthinkable and again his enemies snarl behind his back.
They ask the disciples, not Jesus
directly, why the Master eats with sinners. Jesus
hears it and responds: "I have come to call not the righteous,
but sinners." Hebrews invites us to lay our righteousness
and sin open before the Word of God and let the Word lay bare
our deepest motives. There is nothing to fear if we are "discovered"
because "we have a high priest able to sympathize with
our weaknesses,...like us in all things...[So]
let us approach the throne of grace with boldness." Let
us rejoice in our weakness and even sin, for then we will eat
with Jesus in the heavenly banquet!
to convert you from your goodness. In your imagination approach
the throne of God with Jesus,
both of you "beset by weakness," and receive Godís
January 16 - see the top of this page.
January 17, 2005
the birthday of Dr. Martin
today, a man who like Jesus,
"offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries
and tears." The reading from Hebrews today describes Jesusí
agony in the garden. Jesus was
afraid to die, not like the philosopher Socrates
who, when condemned to drink poison, did so stoically. Ghandi,
so many nameless others have braved death in spite of their
fears and premonitions because their loud cries and tears were
expressions of love for their oppressed brothers and sisters.
there is any stoicism in you (a way until Vatican
II we thought a path to holiness!) ask the Spirit to clean it
out so that you may feel deeply, passionately the plight of
the poor, desperate and deprived of this earth. Join Jesus
in his passionate prayer.
January 18, 2005
the Alleluia verse focus on hope. Hebrewsí image of hope is
an anchor, not dropped into the sea but thrown upward toward
heaven, "the inner shrine, behind the curtain where Jesus,
our pioneer, has entered."The
Alleluia verse prays that Christ enlighten
our hearts "that we might see the great hope to which we
are called." Then the gospel, another controversial action
by Jesus, demonstrates hope according
to Jesus: sabbath laws were made for people (to give us rest);
people were not made in order to obey sabbath
laws. The criterion again is love, what serves love. That gives
Spirit to remind you of times when Jesus
was a pioneer for you in hoping. Dark days when he was with
you; depression which he too felt; sadness and grief which he too
knew in crying over Jerusalem
and his friendís death. What ever you have experienced, Jesus
has blazed the way for you. Tell your pioneer how his leadership
gives you hope.
January 19, 2005
is so human. Today he "looked around with anger; he was
grieved at their hardness of heart." Yes, we are only in
chapter 3 of Markís gospel and
his enemies begin a conspiracy against Jesus,
"how to destroy him." And
what is the "sin" of which Jesus
is guilty? Healing a man with a withered hand on the sabbath.
His enemies would restrict Godís healing love, bind it with
legalities and persecute the one who puts flesh on that healing
touch of God.
you angry? Do you see any pattern? What grieves you? Share those
feelings with Jesus who is no
stranger to hurts, slights, persecution, hardness
of heart. Are there other feelings which
pain you? Talk them over with this very feeling healer. Show
him what is withered in you. Rest
in his healing gaze.
January 20, 2005
us that Jesus "always lives
to make intercession" for us. He always tells God in the
words of Psalm 40: "Here I am. I come to do your will."
In the gospel he asks the disciples to have a boat ready for him because
the crowds coming for healing are pressing upon him. In these
three readings we have some clues about how to pray. First, when
others or duties "press upon us," we need a way to
preserve our sanity and solitude. Often that is taking time
for prayer. Secondly, prayer opens us and makes us available
to all the ways God manifests Godís will, Godís choices, Godís
passionate desire in our daily life. Our response is Jesusí:
Here I am. Finally, if intercession
is "always" good enough for Jesus,
we need not discount our prayers for others, ourselves, situations
in the world.
intercessory prayer, keep alert all day to opportunities for
solitude, and to finding Godís will in the events and encounters
of today. Pray "Here I am; I come to do your will"