February 27, 2009


1st Sunday of Lent - B
Mark 1: 12-15

A New Creation Restored by Jesus’ Obedience

After the disobedience of the first humans, there came discord and conflict between people, between humanity and the animals as well as all of nature (Genesis 3:14-21). There was no longer the original peace and harmony of God’s creation (Genesis 2: 15-25) [1]

Now, as Jesus begins the new creation, God’s original plan for creation is restored. Jesus is portrayed being in the desert, among wild beasts, and the angels minister to him (Mark 1:13).

Jesus restores creation to its original goodness by his obedience to the Father. St. Mark stresses that it is the Spirit who “drives Jesus out into the desert” (Mark 1:12). Jesus does not act on his own. He is obedient to the will of the Father expressed in the action of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ obedience is enough to restore the Father’s plan for creation. Therefore, he can proclaim, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” He is the revelation and the realization of God’s Kingdom. Now is the time of fulfillment of God’s plan, the plan for our well-being and redemption.

[1] Moloney, Francis J. This is the Gospel of the Lord – Year B. Homebush, NSW, Australia: St. Paul, 1993, p. 88.

1st Sunday of Lent - B (March 1, 2009)


February 21, 2009


7th Sunday –B
Mark 2:1-12

Jesus’ Sacrifice to Give us Fullness of Life

In Mark’s Gospel, when Jesus performs his very first miracle, he already breaks certain Jewish laws. In 1:23-26, Jesus drives an unclean spirit out of a man. The healing takes place in a synagogue; and it is on a Sabbath. Yet, we learn nothing about the reactions of the Jewish religious leaders to this violation. We do learn, however, that everyone there is “astounded.”

Afterwards, Jesus cures Simon’s mother-in-law of her fever. This healing takes place in Simon’s home. It is also on the same Sabbath day. Still, we do not know how the leaders react to Jesus’ behavior.

Chapter 2 of Mark begins with the healing of the paralytic. Right away, here, we learn of the conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders. This conflict will run throughout the gospel, and reaches its climax with Jesus’ crucifixion.

Jesus appears to be the one who brings the conflict upon himself.

He has the choice to simply say to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your mat and walk.” On the surface, telling a man who is paralyzed to walk is a challenging task. Everybody could tell whether Jesus’ words are effective or not.

From the background that Chapter 1 has provided us, we know that it would be quite simple for Jesus just to heal the man.

Yet, Jesus chooses the more risky path. He tells the man, “Your sins are forgiven.” Now, he is in trouble with the scribes sitting there because for them, he has blasphemed. God alone can forgive sins.

Why doesn’t Jesus just heal the man and avoid getting himself in trouble?

Because Jesus wants to give us more than just physical healing. It is the fullness of life and the freedom of the children of God that Jesus wants to share with us. And so, he takes the risk of alienating the religious authority. This decision eventually will lead to his death on the cross.

"It is our sins that he bears."

He dies for our sins so we can live as children of God.

February 13, 2009


6th Sunday - B
Mark 1:40-45

A compassionate God

We have been reading continuously from chapter 1 of Mark for these 4 Sundays. In this chapter, Jesus appears on the scene, proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand (v. 15). His teaching with authority, which astonishes the people (v. 22) and his power over diseases and evil spirits testify to his message. He heals many people in the first two days of his public ministry. In details, we learn that Jesus has driven an unclean spirit out of a man and cured Simon’s mother-in-law.

And now, Mark ends the chapter with the cleansing of a leper. This seems to be the climax of the miracles reported in this chapter. It is more than a healing. It is now common knowledge the plight of lepers in Jewish society at the time of Jesus. (And we hear it again today in the first reading taken from Leviticus). They are the outcasts of the outcasts, both socially and religiously. “Leprosy is thought to be like death.”[1] Jesus does more than a physical healing here. In restoring the man to health, Jesus also restores him to the community. He now lives again.

In this healing, we can learn from both the man suffering from leprosy and Jesus of whom Jesus is. He is the compassionate God.

In his action, the man acknowledges, even before he is cleansed that Jesus is no mere human. He comes to Jesus, kneels down, and begs. One does this only to God. Moreover, he professes his faith in Jesus’ divine power, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” And in healing him of his leprosy, Jesus shows his divinity. Only God can give life and raise people from the dead.[2]

In addition, Jesus shows himself the compassionate God. At the request of the man, he is “moved with pity.” His word could easily heal the man. Yet, Jesus reaches out and touches him. Here, Jesus “bridges the gap between the holy and the unclean.”[3] Only then does he speak to the man, “I do will it. Be made clean.”

Our God has come, so we, humans dead in sins, can live again.

[1] Harrington, Daniel J. The Gospel of Mark. Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2002; p. 88.
[2] Ibid., p. 91.
[3] Ibid., p. 89.

February 7, 2009


5th Sunday - B
Mark 1:29-39

"For this purpose have I come"

This passage chosen for this Sunday picks up where last Sunday left off. In the previous verses, Mark reports the events that took place in the synagogue where Jesus taught with authority and healed a man inflicted with an unclean spirit.

From the synagogue, Jesus and his disciples visited the house of Peter and healed his mother-in-law. Then, "when it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons."

All of this took place in just one day, the first day in Jesus' public ministry.

Mark portrays a Jesus who is hurrying in proclaiming the Kingdom of God in his preaching and his healing. He is a man on a mission.

Because he is on a mission to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:15), nothing will stop or slow him down. For the same reason, he broke Sabbath rules and ignored social and religious taboos (touching a woman and people who are considered "unclean.") The urgency of the Kingdom could not have been clearer in his action.

Yet, early the next morning, he goes to a deserted place to pray. He is a man driven by a mission, not activities. Here, he reveals to his disciples, and to us, that he is driven by the Father's will. And because of that, his life has a clear purpose. "For this purpose have I come."