Some Notes on Today’s Gospel 1. Since it is absolutely certain that “God wills all human beings to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth” the reference to seeing but not understanding and not being forgiven refers to the bad dispositions of some moral men who do not want to understand because they do not want to repent. 2. The Gospel of Mark is Mark’s transmission of the Gospel as preached by the Apostle Peter. Or, more likely, it is the translation into Greek of a Hebrew original written by Peter. A sign of Peter’s humility: the boat belonged to him, but he doesn’t mention it. 3. No one is by nature, or through mere human virtue, “good soil”. Only divine grace can make us ready to receive the seed of the word of God and then bear supernatural good fruit. 4. In the parable, the evil spirits are compared to birds eating seed. Perhaps to fix this image in our hearts, we could watch Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds”, or think of birds that we regard as somewhat of a nuisance like… Canada Geese. 5.. Excessive desires, which may even be legitimate, within due limits, can choke the effect of the word of God and of grace. 6. For the word to bear fruit, as the nature of the “message of truth” demand,s requires that the word be understood.
How today’s Gospel should be translated: Mark 3:31-35 Revised Standard Version (RSV) with corrections The True Kindred of Jesus 31 And his mother and his kinfolk came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your kinfolk are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.” This text gives a clue that it is not originally written in Greek, but translated into Greek from Aramaic or, more likely, Hebrew. It does not have the paragraph long, logically and elegantly composed sentences. Rather it has short uncomplicated sentences, typical of Hebrew. So it is fitting and reasonable to observe that Aramaic and Hebrew do not have a specific word “brother” as opposed to “cousin”, but rather a word that covers both, which we have given as “kinfolk”. Hebrew can of course communicate our “brother” by specifying that the person was born of the same mother as me, and “cousin” by stating born of my mother’s kinswoman. “Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Whoever does God’s will, whoever “does the truth in charity” is a child of God through Faith. So they are brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus. But “mother”? Yes. Who ever “does God’s will” is a living branch on the true Vine, Jesus Christ. They are a “good tree” that produces “good fruit”. Thus they bring about that, or contribute to the rebirth of others into the supernatural life of a regenerated child of God. So they are “mothers”. All of us believers can carry out this good work by prayer. We should pray for the conversion and eternal salvation of all “poor sinners” and all “poor unbelievers”.
3rd Sunday Ordinary Time, year A | 1 Cor 12:12-30; Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21
At the start of this school year at UBC, I spent some time standing in front of the booth for the Catholic group during Clubs Day. This is a day for students to check out the various clubs that are active on campus in order to see if they would like to join any of them. At a certain point, one student walked over to me from the stream passing by the booths, pointed at my clerical collar and said, “what are you?” “A Catholic priest”, I answered. “What’s a Catholic?”, he asked. “A Christian”, I said. Still genuinely confused he said, “and what is a Christian?” The student’s question is a good one. What is a Christian?
In the first reading (1 Cor 12:12-30), St. Paul explains that the central aspect of our identity as Christians is that together we make up the body of Christ. Paul wrote this letter to a community that was deeply fractured. One cause of division was a sort of tribalism in which people grouped into rival factions, aligning themselves with different figures important to the community: Paul, Cephas and Apollos (1 Cor 1). There were also estrangements in the community between rich and poor, especially when they celebrated the Eucharist (1 Cor 11). Further discord arose because people with various gifts such as wisdom, healing or tongues, were vying to be seen as the most important members of the community (1 Cor 12). In order to help the Christians at Corinth overcome their disunity, Paul called them to remember their core identity. Because of their baptism (12:13), Paul explained, they are all a part of Christ’s body (12:27). No one individual is Christ’s body. Rather, as a whole they make up the body of Christ. Just as in the human body each part plays its own unique and important role, so each baptized individual contributes in an indispensable way to the community. What is a Christian? Paul would respond to the student from UBC that a Christian is someone who, together with other baptized people, make up the body of Christ. In other words, together Christians are the enduring presence of Jesus in the world. Christians continue Jesus’ mission here and now. As good as this answer sounds, I can imagine that the curious student might not yet be satisfied. I can imagine him asking, “but what is the mission of Jesus?”James Tissot [Public domain]Fortunately, in the Gospel today taken from Luke (1:1-4; 4:14-21), Jesus directly answers this question as he publicly declares his mission. Jesus’ actions in the Gospel resemble a politician who announces that they are running for president. If you follow US politics, you will know that in recent days a number of candidates from the Democratic party have stepped forward to announce their intention to run for president. These announcements follow a similar pattern. In some public setting the candidate declares their intention to become president and then gives a list of compelling action items that they plan to accomplish if they are elected. In launching their campaign, the candidate reveals the mission that they would work towards as president. In the Gospel, we find Jesus at the start of his public ministry announcing his mission in a public space, namely the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth. There, on the Sabbath, he stood up to read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah that was handed to him. It was Jesus himself who decided which part of this scroll to read from. The text Jesus chose to declare to the people (Isa 61), outlined the various aspects of the mission he was about to begin. Jesus announced that he would bring glad tiding to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, let the oppressed go free and proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord (Lk 4:18-19). Unlike many politician who fail to deliver on their campaign promises, Jesus immediately follows through. In the rest of the chapter (Lk 4), Jesus makes good on what he promised in the synagogue. He liberated people from demons, cured Simon’s mother-in-law and numerous others and called people to conversion. In the Gospel today, Jesus announces his mission. This mission of healing, overcoming evil and injustice and leading people to God is what we Christians, the body of Christ, are called to continue in the world.
Taking on a new role in life comes with its challenges, but Brenda Spitzer steps into Catholic Family Services of Toronto with the knowledge she will be following along a steady path laid down by her predecessors for almost a century.
Spitzer takes over as executive director of Catholic Family Services on Jan. 21, assuming the mantle from the recently retired Denis Costello, who stepped down as executive director just before Christmas. Spitzer senses she is taking over at an agency that works smoothly and works well.
“Denis has really created a wonderful culture of collaboration,” said Spitzer, who has a long
The message to Canadian pilgrims at World Youth Day was clear: Get on social media and share the Good News.
“Don’t be shy,” World Youth Day Canada co-ordinator Isabel Correa told more than 500 Canadians gathered Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Panama on Jan. 22.
“Sometimes we like to live privately and we’re afraid to share on social media and identify who we are. That’s our mission here, to break all those barriers and share as much as possible.”
Correa’s advice to Canada’s pilgrims came on Day 1 of the 15th edition of World Youth Day. Hundreds of thousands youth from around
PANAMA CITY – If there was a common denominator, aside from the Christian faith, that united most pilgrims heading to the opening Mass for World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, it was that each person, in his or her own way, faced a challenge back home. Pilgrims from places such as El Salvador, Zimbabwe and the Dominican Republic spoke of increasing violence, political or otherwise, threatening their general populations. Others from places such as Australia and the United States spoke of growing secularism affecting the religious beliefs of their peers.And yet, almost every one of them wore a smile and
PANAMA CITY – One thing is clear about World Youth Day 2019: This one is not focused on convening great masses of people, or the most influential or the loudest. Instead of highlighting the problems faced by youth in the world’s richest or most populous countries, one of its first events focused on the plight of populations most of the world rarely sees or comes across: the indigenous.Edigibali Lopez, 24, and Enith Sanchez, 23, members of two different indigenous communities in Panama, spoke from experience about the loss of ancestral lands, the negative impact of climate change on their communities