People are desperate for Jesus

In today’s reading, the Gospel tells us how a large number of people who heard about what Jesus was doing came to Him to listen to Him, to see what He was doing, and to be healed.

Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. — Mark 3:8

Today, as it was in the past, people need Jesus. And people are probably desperate for Jesus today more than ever.

With social media, technology, a tsunami of secularization, the world becoming more and more materialistic, and people relying solely on their own abilities instead of trusting and relying on God, many people are falling into despair and hopelessness. 

We begin to think of our self-worth as tied to our material wealth, our fame, following, or influence, and our abilities or achievements. In a world we can never ever satisfy, we also see ourselves as never being good enough.

When Jesus came, He not only taught, cured, healed, and casted out demons. Most of all, He loved. He also reintroduced God to us as a Father who loves us. And because of His love, we are already enough.

Today, people need others who will be Jesus to them. They need other people who will love them and let them know that the Father loves them. They need people who will let them know that they are already enough because of God’s love. They need people who will encourage them and give them the hope that God Himself gives. They need people who are willing to do what Jesus did, even dying for them.

People are hungry and desperate for Jesus. 

Can we be Jesus to others through our faith, our words, and our deeds?


P.S. During the time of Jesus, what people heard was “what Jesus was doing.” Not just what He was saying. It is important for us to live our faith if we are to truly follow Jesus. 

P.P.S. Please pray for me that I may continue writing with a humble heart and purity of intention — to love God and to love my brothers and sisters from His family, the Church. Sometimes, pride sets in and I do it for personal gain and recognition.

Two kinds of anger

Today’s Gospel reading shows us a side of Jesus which many of us probably overlook often when reading the Bible or going to Mass. At some points during His ministry, Jesus showed anger.

Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. — Mark 3:5

There are two kinds of anger: anger that is born of a great, genuine love and anger that is born of pride or selfishness.

Jesus’ anger was due to the hardness of the hearts of the Pharisees towards the man with a withered hand and their evil intent. Yet, His anger was caused by a deep love that He also grieved. Jesus’ anger was also not directed at the Pharisees, but at their sin. Recalling what Jesus said when He was crucified, we can see that Jesus was never angry at sinners, but at their sins:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” — Luke 23:34

Furthermore, the fruit of Jesus’ anger toward the indifference and self-righteousness of the Pharisees was the healing of the man with the withered hand. Jesus made use of His anger by doing good and restoring the man’s withered hand.

On the other hand, the Pharisees were angry at Jesus because of their pride and self-righteousness. While they were the ones who knew the Law given to Moses, they couldn’t accept the signs that Jesus was fulfilling as the Messiah. They also feared losing their stature in the eyes of the people as more and more people were following Jesus. This anger led them to plot against Jesus to put Him to death.

We cannot avoid feeling angry. But, let us first ask God and ourselves what the cause of our anger is. Is it caused by love or by selfishness? Then, let us use our anger to do good for others and not to cause harm.

In all circumstances, especially in times of anger, let us pray and ask for God’s guidance and wisdom to know and to do what is right in His eyes.

How to keep the sabbath holy

In today’s Gospel reading, let us also recall the third of the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses:

“Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God.” — Exodus 20:8-10

What does it mean to be holy?

The Hebrew word for holy is “qadosh” which means “set apart.” 

That’s why when God calls us to be holy, He calls us to be set apart. He calls us to follow Him and not to conform to this world — through the food we eat, the places we go to, the things we read, the shows we watch, the things we do, the way we speak, and just the way we live our lives entirely.

So, when God tells us to keep the sabbath day holy, He tells us to set that day apart. It should be a day different from any other day.

It is a day we should set apart to thank God, to worship Him, to remember how He is always there with us, to acknowledge that everything comes from Him. It is a day we should set apart to pray more, to read His word, to know Him more, and to respond to His love through our faith.

But today, the Gospel also reveals to us the true essence of the sabbath:

Then [Jesus] said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” — Mark 2:27

Just like the Law given to Moses, the true essence of the sabbath day is for us to love God and to love others. It is a day we can set apart to love God and our neighbors, our brothers and sisters from the same family of God, more.

Keeping the sabbath day holy or “set apart” breaks our routine. Instead of going to work and thinking about our own needs, the sabbath day gives us the time and the opportunity to think about the needs of others — especially those who are forgotten by society. 

The sabbath is a day we should set apart not only to feed our hunger — both physically and spiritually — but also to feed the hunger of others.

Today, let us ask ourselves, “Are we doing something to feed the hungry, both spiritually and physically?”

Then, let us act.

 

P.S. My answer to that question is, no. I’m not doing something to feed the hungry. At least, not yet. Not every post is something I already know or do. I’m learning together with you through. Through the daily Gospel readings, God is also inspiring me to take new action. Today, let us commit to doing something about the world’s physical and spiritual hunger — one person at a time. Every sabbath day, let us remember and renew this commitment. 

P.P.S. The TRAIN Law also lowered the taxes some of us are paying. This gives us more to spend not only for ourselves, but also for those in need. Let us remember those who were originally tax-exempt such as the minimum wage earners, the families of overseas workers, and those in extreme poverty who are only paying more for their basic needs, and not benefitting from the tax reform. Let us do our part in helping our brothers and sisters from the same family of God.

Being humble enough to understand

If Jesus came today, would we recognize Him?

Today’s Gospel reading gives us an insight why some people such as the Pharisees and the scribes, those who were well-versed in the Law of God given to Moses, had a difficult time recognizing God when He came:

“No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.” — Mark 2:22

Perhaps, their self-pride and self-righteousness prevented them from recognizing Jesus. After all, if there were people who were expected to have known the signs of the Lord’s coming, it should have been them.

I have read the Bible twice. But, I must admit that there was a time (and there are still times) when I fall into pride and self-righteousness. Just because I finished the Bible does not make me any holier or any more Christian than others. The same goes to attending the Mass regularly or attending charismatic prayer meetings. We become true followers of Christ not just through our faith, but also through our actions. Following Jesus means living like He did. (Although many times, I fall short.)

Today, let us ask God for humility. Let us pray that He teach us to be humble enough to listen with open minds and open hearts. To be humble enough to learn from others. To be humble enough to understand where others are coming from. That, in times of disagreements, conflicts, and differences in beliefs, we may be humble enough to still listen, understand, and respect others.

Let us ask God to teach us to be humble enough to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.

I believe that if Jesus were to come today, we would recognize Him only if we are humble enough to know and acknowledge Him.

Hearing demands a response

Today’s Gospel reading tells the story of the call of the first disciples of Jesus.

It’s interesting how the disciples responded when Jesus called them. When Andrew was called by Jesus and became His follower, Andrew responded by telling his brother Simon about Jesus.

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). — Mark 1:40-41

Hearing God’s call demands a response. When God works miracles in our lives, when He strengthens us, when He gives us peace, when He encourages us, we need to respond.

This response is faith and truly living a life of faith.

When God calls us, we are called to believe in the love of our Father. We are called to trust in His goodness, mercy, and fatherly love. We are called to believe in Jesus Christ, the One who reintroduced God to us as our Father and showed us the way to eternal life with the Father. We are called to believe in the Holy Spirit which God sends us to give us strength, wisdom, peace, and understanding.

But, we are also called to live a life of faith. To follow Him completely. To share Christ to others like Andrew did. To encourage, strengthen, and give them hope and purpose through Christ and in Christ. To be gentle. To be loving. To be forgiving. To be merciful. To be charitable. To truly live like Jesus did.

Today, let us ask God for the gift of faith. Let us also ask Him for the strength, the courage, and the opportunity to do corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Today, let us respond to God’s call.

 

P.S. So you will never forget to respond to God’s call, it helps to write a prayer to God asking Him for the strength, the courage, the joy, and the opportunity to do works of mercy and keep it where you can always see it. I have just written mine. Let’s do them together.