Monday in the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Mark 10:17-27 - World English Bible
17 As Jesus was going out on the road, one ran to him, knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"
18 Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except one—God. 19 You know the commandments: 'Do not murder,' 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not give false testimony,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honor your father and mother.'"
20 He said to him, "Teacher, I have observed all these things from my youth."
21 Jesus looking at him loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking up the cross."
22 But his face fell at that saying, and he went away sorrowful, for he was one who had great possessions. 23 Jesus looked around, and said to his disciples, "How difficult it is for those who have riches to enter into God's Kingdom!"
24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus answered again, "Children, how hard is it for those who trust in riches to enter into God's Kingdom! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into God's Kingdom."
26 They were exceedingly astonished, saying to him, "Then who can be saved?"
27 Jesus, looking at them, said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God, for all things are possible with God."
Am I good enough for God? That was the question a young, rich man asked Jesus. By all accounts, the young man was a faithful Jew who followed the Law (summarized by the Ten Commandments in 10:19), but his efforts did not seem enough. He wanted, if not certainty, at least a sense of assurance he was headed for the Kingdom.
The sentiment found in the question was not uncommon in the first century AD; many Jews sought assurance in the matters of YHWH. After all, a foreign power occupied their land and drove the populace there into near starvation. In the Diaspora, they lived in ghettos to maintain their identity, against the prejudice and oppression of their pagan neighbors. In the time of Jesus, they lived a precarious existence. The question of being good enough, then, was really an inquiry into the lack of divine approval. If they were the Chosen People, why didn't God favor them politically, socially and economically? The faith-filled person would not doubt God, but question the efforts of the self. Am I good enough for God? What could I do to gain his favor?
Jesus answered the question with a call to discipleship. In essence, he told the young man, "Give up all other attachments to life and make me your first priority." The young man could not, so he walked away. The disciples were astounded, for if anyone could claim divine favor, the rich man who followed the Law, the one universally admired, would have the hardest time entering the Kingdom. "What?" the followers must have thought, "God blessed this righteous man with success. If he and those like him can't be saved, who can?" Here Jesus answered the question, "Who is good enough for God?" His answer was, "No one." And that was his point; people could not please God by themselves; only God could save and he wanted to save them all, saint and sinner alike. Nothing was impossible for God.
How has God blessed you this week? Do you feel humbled by his blessing?Top of the page
Tuesday in the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Mark 10:28-31 - World English Bible
28 Peter began to tell Jesus, "Look, we have left all, and have followed you."
29 Jesus said, "Most certainly I tell you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or land, for my sake, and for the sake of the Good News, 30 but he will receive one hundred times more now in this time, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land, with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last; and the last first."
In Mark 10:17-27, Jesus invited a young, rich man to follow him, but the man walked away dejected, for he could not part with his possessions and the relationships those things implied. In other words, the man could not make the Lord first in his life. Jesus' disciples were shocked when he commented, "How hard it was for the rich to enter the Kingdom!" Why did they react in that way? Simply put, the young, rich man represented a life blessed by God, a righteous person who showed the benefits of following the Law. If this man could not be saved, then who could? Jesus replied, "By themselves, no one, but with God's help, everyone."
In Mark 10:28-31, Peter was still dismayed. He said, "We've left everything to follow you." Jesus answered him with a promise of blessing (and persecution) for making the Good News one's first priority. If someone was willing to give all for the Lord, he would receive everything from the Lord (and be hated for it). The disciple had to accept the invitation Jesus gave him, like that to the young, rich man, to leave the family in order to enter the Lord's family, the Church. The assembly of believers, then, became the blessing of the hundreds of new family members. However, he added a caveat; one could not enter with the glory of wealth (the first), but with the humility of the poor (the least).
The road to the Kingdom was not what his followers imagined it to be.
What have you given up for the Kingdom? What blessings have you received for your decision?Top of the page
Wednesday in the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Mark 10:32-45 - World English Bible
32 Jesus and his disciples were on the road, going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus was going in front of them, and they were amazed; and those who followed were afraid. He again took the twelve, and began to tell them the things that were going to happen to him. 33 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes. They will condemn him to death, and will deliver him to the Gentiles. 34 They will mock him, spit on him, scourge him, and kill him. On the third day he will rise again."
35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came near to him, saying, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we will ask."
36 He said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?"
37 They said to him, "Grant to us that we may sit, one at your right hand, and one at your left hand, in your glory."
38 But Jesus said to them, "You don't know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"
39 They said to him, "We are able."
Jesus said to them, "You shall indeed drink the cup that I drink, and you shall be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; 40 but to sit at my right hand and at my left hand is not mine to give, but for whom it has been prepared."
41 When the ten heard it, they began to be indignant towards James and John.
42 Jesus summoned them, and said to them, "You know that they who are recognized as rulers over the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you, but whoever wants to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 Whoever of you wants to become first among you, shall be bondservant of all. 45 For the Son of Man also came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Have you ever heard someone say something, but didn't really understand the full impact of what they said? If you have, then pity the poor sons of Zebedee. Jesus clearly described his fate in Jerusalem, but they didn't comprehend the import of his message. No, all they considered was their own self interest. "Teacher," the brothers seemed to say, "Can we be the two most important members of your Kingdom, right after you?"
The Lord kept his eye on the subject at hand, his suffering and the participation of his disciples in that suffering. Notice he described that suffering in sacramental terms; "Can you drink from my cup...can you be baptized in my baptism?" While James and John insisted they could, Jesus applied the prophecy of his own Passion to his followers. But, since the Kingdom belonged to the Father, only he had the prerogative to name the "officials" of his realm.
Jesus connected his suffering with that of his followers to make a point about leadership. At its core, Christianity was leadership based upon service and such service meant pain at times. When we were baptized, when we receive communion, we affirmed our place as servants, for the Lord himself served us all, even to the point of death.
Do we clearly hear that message?
How have you served others this week?Top of the page
Thursday in the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Mark 10:46-52 - World English Bible
46 Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. As he went out from Jericho, with his disciples and a great multitude, the son of Timaeus, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, and say, "Jesus, you son of David, have mercy on me!" 48 Many rebuked him, that he should be quiet, but he cried out much more, "You son of David, have mercy on me!"
49 Jesus stood still, and said, "Call him."
They called the blind man, saying to him, "Cheer up! Get up. He is calling you!"
50 He, casting away his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
51 Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"
The blind man said to him, "Rabboni, that I may see again."
52 Jesus said to him, "Go your way. Your faith has made you well." Immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus on the way.
Have you ever met an well-meaning, but obnoxious person? Sometimes, I think Bartimaeus was such a "get in your face" person, the weak man who even broke social convention to get what he needed. Here Jesus and his companions traveled just outside of Jericho when the blind man "made a scene" to get what he wanted. He made a such scene with his loud voice and his insistence on the "son of David" (a reference to the wise Solomon) that he embarrassed everyone, including the Lord, into action. For his public display, he received his sight. And he became a disciple.
Even the obnoxious person has a place in the Kingdom.
Is there a person in your life who is well-meaning but obnoxious? Pray for that person. They, too, are called by God.Top of the page
Friday in the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Mark 11:11-26 - World English Bible
11 Jesus entered into the Temple in Jerusalem. When he had looked around at everything, it being now evening, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
12 The next day, when they had come out from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 Seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came to see if perhaps he might find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 Jesus told it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again!" and his disciples heard it.
15 They came to Jerusalem, and Jesus entered into the Temple, and began to throw out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of those who sold the doves. 16 He would not allow anyone to carry a container through the Temple. 17 He taught, saying to them, "Isn't it written, 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations?' But you have made it a den of robbers!"
18 The chief priests and the scribes heard it, and sought how they might destroy him. For they feared him, because all the multitude was astonished at his teaching.
19 When evening came, he went out of the city. 20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away from the roots. 21 Peter, remembering, said to him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered away."
22 Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God. 23 For most certainly I tell you, whoever may tell this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and doesn't doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is happening; he shall have whatever he says. 24 Therefore I tell you, all things whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received them, and you shall have them. 25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father, who is in heaven, may also forgive you your transgressions. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions."
These verses from Mark 11 spoke to the importance of faith even in a stale religious environment. The curse of the fig tree (11:12-14) and Peter's witness to its withering (11:20-21) acted as bookends to the ejection of the money changers in the Temple (11:15-19). In other words, the cursed fig tree was a metaphor for activity in the Temple. Just as the tree would not produce fruit, the Temple was so polluted by commerce and politics that people could not truly offer the "fruit" of worship to YHWH. Railing against the corrupt leadership in the Temple was a popular pastime among the contemporaries of Jesus (the Essences were created to oppose the priestly cast in the Temple), so the cleansing of the Temple heightened Jesus' popularity. But this act placed the Lord in firm opposition to the religious elite.
The curse of the fig tree and the cleansing of the Temple described an environment lacking faith. In 11:22-26, Jesus described faith and some of its components. Faith in God gave one a sense of certitude what could be accomplished. Evangelizing the intractable was not impossible (like moving the mountain in 11:23), but it did require firm prayer (11:24). But, there was a caveat, firm prayer required forgiveness (11:25-26).
How can we measure true faith in a worship environment? Look to the power of forgiveness among the members of the assembly.
Who do you need to forgive today? Bring your forgiveness before God and ask for his strength.Top of the page
Saturday in the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
Mark 11:27-33 - World English Bible
27 Jesus and his disciples came again to Jerusalem, and as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders came to him, 28 and they began saying to him, "By what authority do you do these things? Or who gave you this authority to do these things?"
29 Jesus said to them, "I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 The baptism of John—was it from heaven, or from men? Answer me."
31 They reasoned with themselves, saying, "If we should say, 'From heaven;' he will say, 'Why then did you not believe him?' 32 If we should say, 'From men'"—they feared the people, for all held John to really be a prophet. 33 They answered Jesus, "We don't know."
Jesus said to them, "Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things."
If you ever want to throw off your opponent in a debate, answer a question with a question. Normally, such a tactic is meant to change the subject or the focus of the subject, but, the matter of authority, Jesus addressed his answer within his question about the Baptist. Where did John's authority come from? "Answer that question," Jesus implied, "and you will know where mine came from, too."
The leaders were stumped. If they answered, "from heaven," they would be subject to the Lord's commands of discipleship. If they denied John's authority, they would suffer the wrath of the people. So they opted for ignorance. And Jesus had a way to avoid their trap.
Where does the authority of Jesus come from? Answer that question and you will know whether you are a disciple of his or not.
How can you show the world you are a disciple of Jesus?Top of the page