Saturday First Week Ordinary Time Mass and Reflections

Mass readings for today are here.

Extract From First Reading Hebrews 4 :12-16

The word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

No creature is concealed from him,
but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must render an account.

Response from Psalm 19

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Gospel  Mark 2: 13-17
Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”

And he got up and followed Jesus.
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.”


This gospel passage and this action of Jesus puts a lie to the premise that the Church is only for the saved or the virtuous or the strong or a society of the like-minded. 

Phillip Yancey reflects on Jesus in his book The Jesus I Never Knew :

" the more unsavoury the characters, the more at ease they seemed to feel around Jesus; a Samaritan social outcast, a military officer of the tyrant Herod, a quisling tax collector, a recent hostess to seven demons.

In contrast, Jesus often got a chilly response from "more respectable types". Pious Pharisees thought Him uncouth and even the open minded Nicodemus sought a meeting under the cover of darkness.  

Yancey remarks how strange this pattern seemed, since the Christian church now is full of "respectable types" who most closely resemble the people most suspicious of Jesus on earth. 

The question that Yancey poses is "Why don't sinners like being around us now ?"
"What Jesus was offering was a relationship with Himself and for those who were already being  lauded and exonerated by a jury of their like minded peers, politicians, the wealthy and powerful religious leaders, the redemption that Jesus was offering must have felt like a step down, but for those who had nothing, for those who would feel "threatened in a lifeboat", Jesus offered everything. "

What I realise is that for those who took up the call to follow Jesus their motivation was not primarily about doing what was "right ", and more to do with the simple fact that they knew He loved them.

As Donald Miller says in " Searching for God Knows What ";

"the people who met Christ were the proverbial "losers in the lifeboat", the crippled and the blind. Entire communities had shunned them and told them they were no good, but God comes walking down the street and looks them in the eye, holds their hands, embraces them, eats at their tables, in their homes for all the town to see. 
That must have been the greatest moment of their lives- to have Jesus look you in the eye and say you are worth something."

The essence of Christ's ministry was to display the worth of humans, and he was unphased by the controversy it caused the elitists.
He was unafraid of revealing the worth of those considered worthless and it all stemmed from His love for them in their deepest needs and the message is the same today. 
We have to be willing to love all people and rescue them from the lifeboat irrespective of their "worth".  Christ did not offer a " religion", or a formula but Himself.

If the greatest desire of man is to be known and loved that is what Christ is able to do. He can break through our protective self defence systems with His words that are "sharper than any two-edged sword, that penetrate even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and is able to discern our reflections and thoughts of the heart."

He is able to do this as Donald Miller eloquently puts it , 
" never fearing that He will do damage by rummaging around in the tender complexity of a person's identity. He goes immediately to our greatest fears, our most injured spaces and speaks into those places with love and authority."  

Analysts point out (rightly in my opinion), that it's not a crisis of faith that we face these days in the Catholic Church so much as a massive crisis of credibility and a crisis of trust.

Ron Rolheiser says :"The church exists for the world and not vice -versa and he believes that we are at this time in the church being "pruned, humbled and brought back to where we are supposed to be; with the poor and the outcasts."

Please read this address by Ron Rolheiser as it is a challenge that all of us have to face and deal with. We are sick !!


Anonymous said...

Yancey is one of my favorite authors - reading his latest right now. You are so right with what you say Phil. That is one of the reasons that I love working with the children. So many in the 'Church' think they don't count because of so many reasons...but, their wisdom is incredible and their ability to understand is sometimes beyond ours. Thanks Phil.

Blue Eyed Ennis said...

Hi Andie,
I knew you worked with children in religious education but your blog doesn't tell me much more so I don't know what age groups you deal with or where you are on the globe !! I agree with you that kids can be very astute and also very funny too- they alwaysdemand an answer ! Yes, Yancey I like and your new post on favourite authors looks good -will have a closer look soon.
Sue Monk Kidd is a new one for me but she is well known in the USA and I am going to try and read some more of her too.