"Since happiness is nothing other than the enjoyment of the highest good, and since the highest good is above, no one can be happy unless he rises above himself, not by an ascent of the body, but of the heart." — St. Bonaventure
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"No one can fail to understand that the Divine Eucharist bestows upon the Christian people an incomparable dignity. Not only while the Sacrifice is offered and the Sacrament is received, but as long as the Eucharist is kept in our churches and oratories, Christ is truly Emmanuel, that is, 'God with us'. Day and night He is in our midst, He dwells with us, full of grace and truth. He restores morality, nourishes virtues, consoles the afflicted, strengthens the weak. He proposes His own example to those who come to Him that all may learn to be, like Himself, meek and humble of heart and to seek not their own interests but those of God. Anyone who approaches this august Sacrament with special devotion and endeavors to return generous love for Christ's own infinite love, will experience and fully understand—not without spiritual joy and fruit—how precious is the life hidden with Christ in God and how great is the value of converse with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road of holiness." — Bl. Pope Paul VI, p.52 AN EXCERPT FROM Manual for Eucharistic Adoration, p52
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Most of what we know about Mark comes directly from the New Testament. He is usually identified with the Mark of Acts 12:12. (When Peter escaped from prison, he went to the home of Mark's mother.)
Paul and Barnabas took him along on the first missionary journey, but for some reason Mark returned alone to Jerusalem. It is evident, from Paul's refusal to let Mark accompany him on the second journey despite Barnabas's insistence, that Mark had displeased Paul. Because Paul later asks Mark to visit him in prison, we may assume the trouble did not last long.
The oldest and the shortest of the four Gospels, the Gospel of Mark emphasizes Jesus' rejection by humanity while being God's triumphant envoy. Probably written for Gentile converts in Rome—after the death of Peter and Paul sometime between A.D. 60 and 70—Mark's Gospel is the gradual manifestation of a "scandal": a crucified Messiah.
Evidently a friend of Mark (Peter called him "my son"), Peter is only one of the Gospel sources, others being the Church in Jerusalem (Jewish roots) and the Church at Antioch (largely Gentile).
Like one other Gospel writer, Luke, Mark was not one of the 12 apostles. We cannot be certain whether he knew Jesus personally. Some scholars feel that the evangelist is speaking of himself when describing the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane: "Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked" (Mark 14:51-52).
Others hold Mark to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Venice, famous for the Piazza San Marco, claims Mark as its patron saint; the large basilica there is believed to contain his remains.
A winged lion is Mark's symbol. The lion derives from Mark's description of John the Baptist as a "voice of one crying out in the desert" (Mark 1:3), which artists compared to a roaring lion. The wings come from the application of Ezekiel's vision of four winged creatures (Ezekiel, chapter one) to the evangelists.
Mark fulfilled in his life what every Christian is called to do: proclaim to all people the Good News that is the source of salvation. In particular, Mark's way was by writing. Others may proclaim the Good News by music, drama, poetry or by teaching children around a family table.
There is very little in Mark that is not in the other Gospels—only four passages. One is: "...This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come" (Mark 4:26-29).
I slow myself down for a moment, and try to realise that God is present. To me. Here and now. He is in present in what I do, in the people that I meet, and the situations I find myself in daily. How can I make this reality real for myself?
Your death on the cross has set me free. I can live joyously and freely without fear of death. Your mercy knows no bounds.
I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God. I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them. Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment. I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.
The Word of God
Feast of Saint Mark, Evangelist
Reading 1 1 Pt 5:5b-14
Beloved: Clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for:
God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.
So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.
Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. To him be dominion forever. Amen.
I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son. Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Responsorial Psalm PS 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17 R. (2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia. The favors of the LORD I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness. For you have said, "My kindness is established forever"; in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia. The heavens proclaim your wonders, O LORD, and your faithfulness, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies can rank with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the sons of God?
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia. Blessed the people who know the joyful shout; in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk. At your name they rejoice all the day, and through your justice they are exalted.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia.
Alleluia 1 Cor 1:23a-24b R. Alleluia, alleluia. We proclaim Christ crucified; he is the power of God and the wisdom of God. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mk 16:15-20
Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Pope Francis is calling us today to obey the Lord's command given 2,000 years ago. We are to work out together how to share the Good News. We cannot bury or hoard the gift we have been given, because everyone needs to hear the good news that they are loved. We are to be 'the good news in the present tense'.
God is determined to bring us all into the final community of love which is gathering day by day. So, Lord, let me listen to you as you say 'Go!' and let me find creative ways to be good news to those around me.
How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way? I imagine Jesus standing or sitting beside me, I turn and share my feelings with him.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel. (Mark 16:15)
What a picture! The risen Lord, triumphant in his victory, commands his disciples to preach far and wide. And that's just what they did. They traveled the known world, proclaiming the good news.
It's all very dramatic, isn't it? By contrast, our lives seem much more ordinary. But that's not how God sees us. Remember, not all the disciples wrote Gospels or traveled the world or established communities. They had only one thing in common: they followed the Lord as the Holy Spirit led them. So although an adventure-filled mission might seem out of your reach, it really isn't. Just try to be faithful to the role God has given you, and you'll find plenty of excitement.
Each of us can proclaim the gospel in little ways, to little audiences, every day. Every act of kindness can bear the touch of the Lord. Every encouraging word can carry the breath of the Spirit. Every decision to forgive even the smallest of offenses releases mercy into your environment.
Don't take these gestures lightly! They may not be the heroic acts that the apostles did, but no matter how ordinary it seems, the "whole world" that Jesus has sent you into needs your witness (Mark 16:15).
Today we celebrate St. Mark. Tradition tells us that he is the same John Mark who, after only a few months of missionary work, abandoned Saul and Barnabas and returned home (Acts 15:36-38). If we were looking only for heroism, Mark might look like a failure at this point. But that's not how he ended up. Settling in Rome, he became a disciple of Peter and went on to write the first Gospel. No one knew how important this document would be. No one even knew what a "Gospel" was! But seated comfortably at his desk, pen in hand, Mark had a larger impact on the Church than he could ever have had if he had kept traveling. So don't disqualify yourself, even if there are times when you take off like Mark did. Just come back, and be faithful. You can make a difference!
"Jesus, help me to do all of my 'little' acts in love and in your name. I trust, Lord, that you will use them for your glory."
my2cents: The last part of today's super long text message said:
A boy told his grandmother that everything was wrong: school, family problems and diseases.
Meanwhile, his grandmother was putting together a cake. After listening, Grandma says, "You want a snack?". To which the child replied: "Oh yes!". "Here, take a little cooking oil." "Yuckkkk" the boy says. "How about a couple raw eggs?". "ARRR, Grandma!". "So you prefer a little wheat flour, or maybe a little leaven?
"Grandma, have you gone mad ?, all that tastes awful!". To which Grandma replies: - "Yes, all those things taste horrible, each apart from the others but if you put them together in the right way, u make a delicious cake God works the same way, when we often wonder why God allows us walking paths and... face such difficult situations.
But when God puts these things in their divine order, everything works for the good! We just have to trust Him, and eventually, we see that God does something wonderful.
God loves you madly. " If God had a refrigerator, your picture would at the door! If He had a wallet, your photo would be there! Sends you flowers every spring and the sun rises for you every morning. When you want to talk, He's listening to you. You can live anywhere in the universe and He has chosen to live in your heart. And what do you think of the Christmas gift that He sent you to Bethlehem. His madness of love is fully demonstrated that Friday at Calvary and Resurrection Sunday. The folly of His love for you is boundless. He cries everything you need mourn ... He will wipe your tears. He will give you another day to laugh at what which once made you mourn. Just wait and, above all ..., have faith."
The question for me, personally, is something like this:
"would I be planning on spending a weekend retreat in the jails with the prisoners if it weren't for Jesus?" "Would I be seeking to help the poor if it weren't for Him?" "Would I be living the life of joy, if I had not met the Lord as I did?" Would I be writing every day to you? Would I be immersed with Him and into Him? Because the Word is living and effective and aff-ective, therefore affectionate. God asks you to be that living Word that cries out in the dry desert and be the spring of life and joy and mercy. Let it begin with you and let the Lord live within you, for He is the source and summit of our lives. Jesus enters our lives today and says ""Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved". Do you think this was just for them 11 followers? Of course it was for them but for them to us and us to others. This is how the Word is alive. He lives through us and accompanies us. We will pick up serpents, handle the evil appropriately. We will heal the sick, but it won't be us doing the healing, it will be the Lord. Watch this as the Lord says "These signs will accompany those who believe...They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." Who's faith will have brought forth the healing? The healer? or the one being healed? It takes both. God is the healer...we are the ones being healed. And then, in thankfulness, and in joy, we go out into the world to proclaim how Good His healing feels, and it is through the Holy Sacraments, and it is Him doing the giving and it is continuously happening for thousands of years for " they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them". Allow the Lord to work with you. Be patient with Him and ask Him for patience. His timing is way different. Step aside for a moment. Breathe in the breath of God. He will do great things with those with great love