WEEK SIX – MONDAY – FEBRUARY 15, 2021 THE SIGN SEEKERS (MK 8:11-13)

Prayer:

O Jesus, I will trust you completely with the faith of a little child. 

Imagination:

Picture the Pharisees confronting Jesus and his disciples.

Context:

In this story, the Pharisees do not understand. Like the crowds, they have witnessed Jesus teaching and healing. Unlike the crowds, they do not come to faith. They stand back, withhold their consent and seek yet another sign.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.) 

The Pharisees came to Jesus and began to question him. They tempted Jesus by asking him for a sign from heaven. Jesus sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign. I tell you that no sign will be given to this generation.” 

Jesus left them, got into the boat and went to the other side of the water. 

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. The Pharisees have witnessed all that Jesus did and taught. Yet they hold back. They refuse to move forward in faith. 
  2. Instead, they ask for a sign from heaven. Jesus’ normal miracles are not enough for them. They expect portents in the sky. 
  3. They are tempting Jesus. Their request is not a sincere searching. 
  4. Jesus sighs. He has endured enough, working so hard and gaining no results from the Pharisees. 
  5. He calls them “this generation.” They refuse to become the first generation of his Kingdom. 
  6. He closes the door. Getting into the boat ends all discussion. The Pharisees are left without Jesus. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, I will cherish the little signs that you give me. 
  • I will not tempt you, Jesus. You lavish your gifts upon me. 
  • Jesus, you are so patient. Even when I sin, you give me time to repent. 
  • Formerly, I was a “this generation” person. Now, I am a first generation person, belonging to your new Kingdom. 
  • Jesus, never close the door on me. Never turn your back. Never walk away. 
  • Jesus, you are all I have and all I want. Let me get into the boat with you. 

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ I will follow Jesus and not ask for any signs. 

+ I will belong totally to him. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation.) 

Jesus got into the boat and left them behind. 

WEEK SIX – SUNDAY (B) – FEBRUARY 14, 2021 CLEANSING A LEPER (MK 1:40-45)

Prayer:

Come, Holy Spirit. Help me to believe that Jesus can cleanse me. 

Imagination:

Picture Jesus cleansing the leper.

Context:

Mark provides no geographical setting for this miracle. His goal is to show Jesus’ power and how his fame quickly spreads. Jesus tries to avoid this publicity.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.) 

A leper came to Jesus. Kneeling down he said, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus had compassion on him. He stretched out his hand and, touching him, said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” 

The leprosy left him immediately and he was made clean. Warning him strictly, Jesus said to him, “Tell no one. Go, show yourself to the high priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed. That will be proof for them.” 

However, the leper went away and told everyone. When the news went forth, Jesus could not go openly into a town. He stayed outside in deserted places. Yet, they came to him from everywhere. 

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.) 

  1. Having seen others who were healed, the leper believes totally. 
  2. Jesus shows deep human feelings of compassion for the leper’s condition. 
  3. Jesus comes close. He touches the leper and makes himself ritually unclean. 
  4. His power goes forth quickly. He uses just a simple word, “Be clean.” 
  5. The leper cannot control his joy. He tells everyone the story. 
  6. The crowds find Jesus even when he remains in deserted places. They know the power of God is in their midst. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • Lord Jesus, I know you have power. I have read the gospel stories. 
  • I ask with all my heart, “Please make me clean.” 
  • Jesus, you always have compassion for me. 
  • You come close. You touch me. You make me whole. 
  • After you cleanse me, I can begin a new life. 
  • My tongue will not be silent. I will tell everyone. I will claim your mighty deeds. 
  • By my words, others will believe in you and search for you. 

Resolutions: (Use one of these or make one of your own.) 

+ No matter what my illness (moral or physical) I will believe that Jesus can make me clean. 

+ I will be God’s witness, telling others of Jesus’ compassion for them. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation.) 

If you will it, you can make me clean. 

WEEK FIVE – SATURDAY – FEBRUARY 13, 2021 FEEDING THE FOUR THOUSAND (MK 8:1-10)

Prayer:

O Jesus, feed me with Your Body and Blood, the Bread of Life. 

Imagination:

Picture Jesus blessing the bread in the sight of the crowds. 

Context:

Earlier (Mk 6:34), Jesus multiplied bread and fish for a Jewish crowd. Now, He repeats the miracle for Gentiles. Some changes occur. Jesus is more active and the disciples are less involved. The focus in on the bread (the fish come later). Jesus’ actions prefigure what he will do at the Last Supper – giving thanks, breaking, giving and distributing. Mark makes this miracle a promise of the Eucharist.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Because there was a great crowd with nothing to eat, Jesus summoned his disciples, “I have compassion on the crowd. They have been with me three days with nothing to eat. If I send them away fasting, they will faint on the way because many have come from afar.” 

His disciples responded, “How can anyone fill them with bread in the wilderness?” Jesus asked, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven”, they replied. Taking these seven loaves, he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute. And they set them before the people. 

They also had a few small fish. He blessed them and commanded the disciples to give them to the people. All ate and were filled. Seven baskets of fragments were gathered up. After the four thousand had eaten, he sent them away. 

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. This story continually stresses that they have nothing to eat and are hungry. 
  2. To “faint along the way” means a Christian who tires of his journey in following Christ. 
  3. The scene is clearly the same as the Last Supper. Jesus takes bread, breaks it and gives it to his disciples. 
  4. The banquet is complete. The hunger is taken away. The people are filled with God’s blessing. 
  5. Now, they can be sent away to live devoutly, just as the priest dismisses the people at the end of Mass. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • Jesus, I hunger for you. I follow you for days and days, seeking only to be in your presence. 
  • You do not neglect me. You take care of my needs. 
  • Without Holy Communion, I will faint along the way. 
  • If you feed me, I will follow you on your journey to Calvary. 
  • You multiply your presence. At every Mass, you are the living bread. What more can you do? What more can I ask for? 
  • After feeding me, you ask me to be a true disciple. 

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ I will receive Holy Communion at every possible opportunity. 

+ I will have a total trust in Jesus. He knows all I need. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation.) 

If I send them away fasting, they will faint on the way. 

WEEK FIVE – FRIDAY – FEBRUARY 12, 2021 THE ENTHUSIASTIC CROWD (MK 7:31-37)

Prayer:

O Jesus, open my ears to hear your gospel, and my tongue to speak your word. 

Imagination:

Picture Jesus healing the deaf and dumb man. 

Context:

The geography shows that Jesus has become a preacher to the Gentiles. Because the Gentile crowd might not understand, he takes the man aside and performs a healing ritual (almost like a sacrament.) As usual, the people disobey Jesus’ command and they tell everyone. So many are in awe.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When Jesus came into the district of the Ten Cities, they brought to him a man who was deaf and dumb, and asked him to lay hands on the man. 

Taking him apart from the crowd, he put his fingers into his ears, and spitting, he touched his tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said, “Be thou open.” Immediately his ears were opened. His tongue was loosed and he spoke. 

Jesus told them that they should tell no one. But the more he told them, so much more did they proclaim it. And they were in great wonder, “He has done all things well. He has made the deaf hear and the dumb to speak.” 

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. The crowd initiates this healing. They bring the man to Jesus. 
  2. They believe that Jesus can heal by the laying on of hands. 
  3. The man himself is passive, so Jesus needs to take him away from the crowd. 
  4. Jesus’ power comes through two actions. Placing his hands in his ears and spittle on his tongue. 
  5. The results are full and immediate. There is no doubt that all this power comes from Jesus. 
  6. The wonderful crowd sees their faith in Jesus fulfilled, and tells everyone. 
  7. They have the highest esteem for Jesus. He does all things well. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, I come to you in faith. Lay your hands of power upon me. 
  • Take me aside. Teach me. Instruct me. Work your wonders in me. 
  • Let me receive your sacraments often. These contain all your power. 
  • Open my ears. Let me hear your words. Let me understand your mysteries. 
  • Loose my tongue. I will proclaim your mighty deeds. 
  • You do all things well, Jesus. Your actions are perfect. 

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ Today, I will have great faith in what Jesus will do for me. 

+ I will speak of Jesus to my friends. They, too, can receive. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation.) 

Immediately his ears were opened and he began to speak. 

WEEK FIVE – THURSDAY –FEBRUARY 11, 2021 (Our Lady of Lourdes) THE QUICK-WITTED MOTHER (MK 7:24-30)

Prayer:

O Jesus, let me persevere in seeking your blessings. 

Imagination:

Picture Jesus confronted by this mother. 

Context:

This story occurs in Gentile territory with a Gentile mother and shows that Jesus’ Kingdom will spread beyond Palestine. Mark gives a developed portrait of this mother’s intense desires and ingenuity. She is the only person who ever wins a debate with Jesus.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus went to Tyre and Sidon, and entered a house so he could be hidden. There was a woman who had a daughter with an unclean spirit. As soon as she heard, she came in and fell at his feet. 

She was a Gentile, a Syro-Phoenician, and she asked Jesus to cast the devil out of her daughter. 

Jesus replied, “Let the sons of the house (Jews) satisfy themselves at table. It is not right to take the food of children and throw it to the dogs (Gentiles).” But she answered, “Lord, do not the dogs under the table eat the crumbs of the children?” Jesus replied, “Because of your reply, go your way. The devil has left your daughter.” 

When she came home, she found her daughter lying on the bed and the devil gone. 

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Jesus is seeking solitude from the crowds – going to a distant place and staying in a house. 
  2. The mother realizes her special opportunity. Jesus has come to her village. 
  3. She boldly enters the house and goes right to Jesus. 
  4. Even when Jesus puts her off, she does not give up. 
  5. Like only a mother could do, she comes up with a reply that touches the heart of Jesus. 
  6. His powers are so great, that he drives out the demon from afar and knows that it happened. 
  7. On returning home, the woman sees the miracle. She believes and tells the story. That is how Mark knows about it. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, You are always near. I always have a special opportunity. 
  • But you are hidden in my heart. I must look for you. 
  • Jesus, I have all my needs and you have all your power. 
  • You encourage me to ask. You want me to seek. 
  • Help me to persevere in my prayer. 
  • How great are your powers. You can change everything at any time. 

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ I will see the closeness of Jesus. 

+ I will believe in his powers. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation.) 

Because of your words, the devil has left your daughter. 

WEEK FIVE – WEDNESDAY – FEBRUARY 10, 2021 ONLY WHAT ENTERS THE HEART (MK 7:14-23)

Prayer:

O Jesus, let no evil designs enter my heart. 

Imagination:

Picture Jesus summoning the crowd

Context:

After his conflict with the Pharisees, Jesus summons the crowd to give his own teaching. His declares that all foods are clean. This is a gigantic help in freeing Gentile Christians from Jewish dietary laws. Then Jesus teaches the importance of inner desires.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus called the crowd to himself, saying, “Listen and understand. There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. Whoever has ears let him hear.” 

When he entered the house, his disciples asked him about this teaching. He replied, “Are you, also, without understanding? Whatever enters a man cannot defile him because it does not enter his heart but his stomach and is soon passed out.” In this way, he made all foods clean. 

“It is what comes out of man which defiles him. From the deep recesses of his heart come wicked designs, acts of fornication, murder, adultery, greed, maliciousness, theft, deceit, sensuality, envy, blasphemy, arrogance and an obtuse spirit. All these evils come from within and they defile a man.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Whenever Jesus wants a fair audience, he calls the crowd. 
  2. His teaching is sound. Food does not defile. Words and deeds coming from our hearts certainly can. 
  3. The disciples are slow to understand. So, Jesus devotes more time to them. 
  4. The list of evils is overwhelming. Yet, it is true. All of these come from the human heart. 
  5. Jesus makes us look intently at our own hearts and what comes forth. 
  6. What comes out of your heart? 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, I will take your words into my heart and they will make me holy. 
  • How many evil words and deeds come from my heart! Let me gain control. 
  • Teach me, Jesus. Teach me time and again. I am a slow learner. 
  • O Jesus, evils come forth from my unpurified heart. Cleanse the stream of my desires. 
  • Jesus, I am willing. You have permission to purify my heart. 

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ I will examine the evils in my heart. 

+ I will purify my heart by the sacrament of confession. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation.) 

It is what comes forth from his heart that defiles a man. 

WEEK FIVE – TUESDAY –FEBRUARY 9, 2021 SETTING ASIDE GOD’S COMMANDMENTS (MK 7:1-13)

Prayer:

O Jesus, let my heart be set only on the Heavenly Father’s will. 

Imagination:

Picture Jesus in this controversy with the Pharisees. 

Context:

Jesus rejects the piety of the Pharisees, who have gone off course. This gospel contains two stories, washing of hands and declaring things sacred. Each story contains a pronouncement. The critics come from Jerusalem, and Mark has to explain the Jerusalem customs for his readers in Rome.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

The Pharisees and some scribes from Jerusalem came to Jesus. They found fault with some who ate bread with unwashed hands. The Pharisees, indeed all Jews, do not eat without washing their hands according to the tradition of the elders. Also, they never eat anything from the marketplace without sprinkling it. They also observe many other customs, for example, washing cups and jugs and kettles. 

Therefore, the Pharisees and the scribes questioned Jesus, “Why do your disciples not follow the traditions of the Ancestors but they eat bread without washing their hands?” 

Jesus answered, “Well did Isaiah prophecy about you hypocrites when he wrote, “This people honor me with their lips but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines what are merely human precepts.” You disregard God’s commandment and you cling to human tradition. 

You even set aside God’s commandments. For example, Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother”, but you declare to your parents, “Any support you had from me is dedicated to God (Korban).” Then, you do nothing for your father and mother. You nullify God’s words.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.) 

  1. These Pharisees and scribes ignore Jesus’ great powers. They concern themselves with the disciples not washing their hands. 
  2. They have a whole list of rules which they call “the tradition of the elders.” 
  3. They attack Jesus based upon their views of religious practice. 
  4. Jesus sees their misguided piety. Isaiah has already confronted this problem. 
  5. They give their lips to God but not their hearts. 
  6. They nullify God’s laws and teach as divine what are merely human laws. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, you are the center of my devotion. My eyes are always upon you. 
  • What others do is not important. My heart is only upon you. 
  • Let my heart remain simple, and my piety centered on you. 
  • O Mary, save me from misguided piety. 
  • Jesus, I will obey your divine commands – to forgive, to help, and to bless everyone. Your commands are in my heart. 
  • Teach me your ways, O Jesus, and I will follow. 

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ I will not judge others by my standards. 

+ I will give my heart to God’s important demands. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation.) 

They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 

WEEK FIVE – MONDAY –FEBRUARY 8, 2021 TOUCHING HIS CLOAK (MK 6:53-56)

Prayer:

Jesus, let me seek you, find you and be blessed by your power. 

Imagination:

Picture the crowds pressing upon Jesus. 

Context:

These crowds in Galilee are enthusiastic. In fact, by their lively faith they somewhat force Jesus to heal. He seems more comfortable in the solitude of prayer or in teaching the disciples.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When they landed on the shore at Gennesaret, the crowds immediately recognized him. Going throughout the whole countryside, they began to carry those who were sick to the place where they heard he was. 

Wherever he went, into towns or villages or cities, they laid the sick on the streets and beseeched him that they be allowed to touch even the hem of his garment. As many as touched him, were made whole. 

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Jesus attracts the crowds. They know his power and his kindness. 
  2. They so desire to see Jesus that they find out where he is. 
  3. The people’s gigantic faith spurs gigantic efforts. They gather up all the sick from the whole countryside. 
  4. They do not ask Jesus to teach or even to lay hands. They only ask him to stay still until the sick touch his garment. 
  5. The results are amazing. Everyone gets healed. No one is sent away disappointed. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, You are so kind. You do not limit your power. 
  • Give me gigantic faith! A fullness of belief! An overwhelming confidence! 
  • I will search for you, Jesus, all the days of my life. 
  • Just be still, Jesus. Let me come close to you. I will stay in your presence. 
  • Your power will go forth. You will strengthen me and I will serve you. 

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ Today, I will seek Jesus, knowing that he will welcome me. 

+ My faith will move me to action. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation.) 

Wherever he went, they asked if they could just touch his garment. 

WEEK FIVE – SUNDAY (B) – FEBRUARY 7, 2021 MULTIPLE HEALINGS (MK 1:29-39)

Prayer:

O Jesus, let me experience your healing power. 

Imagination:

Picture Jesus surrounded by the sick seeking to be healed.

Context:

Jesus’ powers are diverse. He heals many illnesses and casts out all kinds of demons. They do not shout out because Jesus quiets them. When his work is finished, He walks away from the acclaim, because much work lies ahead.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.) 

When they left the synagogue, they came to the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. 

He took her by the hand and lifted her up. Immediately, the fever left her and she waited on them. 

When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill and possessed with demons. All the city was gathered at the door. He healed many with various diseases and he cast out demons, not allowing them to speak because they knew who he was. 

Rising early before dawn, he went out to a deserted place to pray. Simon, and those with him, followed Jesus. When they found him, they said, “Everybody is looking for you.” Jesus said, “Let us go to the neighboring towns and villages, that I may preach there, also. For this purpose I have come.” So, he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout Galilee. 

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.) 

  1. These apostles have quickly come to believe. They know that Jesus can heal the mother-in-law’s illness. 
  2. The crowds also have great faith. At sunset (as soon as the workers are home), they bring everyone to Jesus. 
  3. Jesus does not disappoint their simple faith. His power goes forth to all. 
  4. Jesus’ pace is hectic. From the synagogue, to the house and to the crowds after sunset. 
  5. The final scene is important. The disciples want to bask in the popularity. Jesus wants to go elsewhere. He is interested only in doing the Father’s work. 
  6. Jesus senses an urgency. He must visit all the towns. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words in prayer.) 

  • O Jesus, lift my heart to a highest level of faith. Then, do your wonders in my soul. 
  • If the crowds, who hardly knew you, believe, why do I not have greater faith? 
  • O Jesus, fill me with zeal. Let me not rest until I complete your work. 
  • O Jesus, your power is always going forth. At every moment, You are always blessing me. 
  • I will bring you all my worries, my hopes and my burdens, laying them at your feet. 
  • You will complete your task. You will visit me and I will receive you. 
  • Come to my village, Jesus. 

Resolutions: (Use one of these or make one of your own.) 

+ I will have faith in Jesus’ powers. 

+ I will go to Jesus with my greatest difficulty. 

Thought: (Recall this text during the day)

After sunset, they brought to Jesus all who were ill. 

WEEK FOUR – SATURDAY – FEBRUARY 6, 2021 SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD (MK 6:30-34)

Prayer:

O Lord, pour out your mercy and draw me close to your heart.

Imagination:

Picture Jesus surrounded by the apostles and the crowds.

Context:

For a brief moment, Jesus wants to be alone with his disciples. This foreshadows the second half of the gospel where Jesus spends much time teaching the disciples. However, his plans are disrupted and, like a true shepherd, he changes his schedule.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When the apostles returned to Jesus, they told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away into a quiet place and rest a while.” There had been so much coming and going, that they did not have time to eat. So, they got into the boat and went by themselves to a deserted place.

The people, however, saw this and knew where they were going. So, they went on foot from all the cities and arrived there before them. When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw the great crowd and he felt pity for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So, he began to teach them many things.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Notice how Jesus always keeps his apostles close to himself, making them return immediately after they complete their tasks.
  2. They must know Jesus’ thoughts and desires. Jesus puts off his teaching of the crowds because the disciples need a deeper relationship.
  3. However, the people have extraordinary desires to be with Jesus and travel on foot to be with him.
  4. He views their situation with great compassion. They are wandering sheep who need their shepherd.
  5. So, instead of teaching the apostles, he gives himself to the crowds.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, keep me close to yourself. Always draw me back to you when I wander away.
  • You give yourself totally to me. You reveal your thoughts and desires. You offer me all of your time.
  • Increase my desires for you. I will seek you and find you.
  • You see me, Jesus. You see that I wander. Be a shepherd to me.
  • You give yourself to everyone – to saint and to sinner – even to me.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ Today, I will seek Jesus at every moment.

+ I will let Jesus teach me.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation.) 

Come aside to a quiet place and rest a while.

WEEK FOUR – FRIDAY – FEBRUARY 5, 2021 (MK 6:14-29) Herod grants the request of his daughter and delivers the head of the Baptist.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, let me not be swerved by the opinions of others. 

Imagination:

Picture Herod with his party guests. 

Context:

This section is an interlude, which Mark inserts between the sending of the Twelve and their return. It is the only story that does not focus on Jesus and his disciples and is written to complete the story of John the Baptist. The text will shorten the lengthy reading.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus’ reputation grew and people were saying that John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. Others said that he is Elijah or a prophet equal to any of the prophets. Herod thought he was John the Baptist, whom he killed, raised from the dead.

Herod had John imprisoned because he said, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge and wanted to kill John but was unable to do so.

Herodias had her chance when Herod held a birthday dinner for his court officers, military officers and leading men of Galilee. Herodias’ daughter did a dance which pleased the King so much that he told the girl, “Ask for anything you want, even to half of my kingdom, and I will give it to you.” Herodias told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

The King regretted his offer but due to the presence of his guests, he sent an executioner to bring back the Baptist’s head. When John’s disciples heard of his death, they buried his body in a tomb.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Everything in this story is distorted, and out of kilter. The three opinions about Jesus have no basis in reality.
  2. Herod is filled with fears and believes John has been raised from the dead.
  3. His passions are out of order, both in his marriage and at this birthday party.
  4. He makes terrible blunders, promising a dancing girl whatever she wanted.
  5. His wife is also filled with evil, always trying to kill John the Baptist.
  6. These evils accumulate and result in an unthought-of event. John is beheaded.
  7. Only his disciples act with thoughtfulness and dignity.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, you alone save me from superstition, absurdity and darkness.
  • Cast out all my fears. By your power, I can live in light and peace.
  • Quiet my passions. Cool my evil desires. By your Spirit, I will practice self-control.
  • O Jesus, how many blunders I have made. No more. I will walk in your light.
  • Do not let evil grow. Let me repent quickly of all my sinful decisions. You will make me firm again.
  • I will be your disciple, with a life full of good deeds and kindly acts.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ I will examine the disorders in my life. What actions should I take?

+ I will quickly repent of every sinful action.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The king regretted his offer but he was fearful about what his guests would think.

WEEK FOUR – THURSDAY – FEBRUARY 4, 2021 SENDING OUT THE TWELVE (MK 6:7-13)

Prayer:

O Jesus, send me forth to bring your gospel to the whole world. 

Imagination:

Picture the Twelve gathered around, listening to Jesus’ instructions.

Context:

Jesus does not have enough time to evangelize all of Israel. So, he sends out the Twelve. This is totally his initiative. He summons, instructs, and gives his powers. The apostles must trust God to provide. The villagers must respond to the message.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus summoned the Twelve. He sent them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He told them to take nothing for the journey except a walking stick. They were to bring no food, no traveling bag and no money in their belts. They were to wear sandals but have no second tunic. 

He said to them, “Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that place. Whatever town does not receive you or listen to you, shake the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 

They went off, preaching the need of repentance. They expelled many demons, anointed the sick with oil and worked many cures. 

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. The urgency is great. The time is short. The gospel must be preached. So, Jesus takes a new initiative. 
  2. He sends forth his twelve apostles, two by two. They must love each other and encourage one another in this difficult task. 
  3. They enjoy the powers of the Kingdom. They can expel demons and heal. 
  4. They must be unselfish, carrying only what is needed and being satisfied with whatever house receives them. 
  5. The people have a heavy responsibility. They must respond to the message and repent. Otherwise, the apostles will reject their town. 
  6. The apostles begin immediately, doing exactly what Jesus commanded. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, the time is short. I must act today. 
  • Call me to a greater level of responsibility. Give me a task in your Kingdom. 
  • Join me with others. Together, we will be faithful to our mission. 
  • I will preach your gospel and you will give me your powers. People will be freed from their sins and respond to the Kingdom. 
  • I will sacrifice everything for the Kingdom and be obedient to your instructions. 
  • O Jesus, if some do not listen, I will go to others who will. 
  • O Jesus, help me to persevere in your call. 

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ I will be aware of opportunities to speak about the Kingdom. 

+ I will seek a friend who will join me in my task. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

They preached the need for repentance. They healed the sick and worked many cures. 

WEEK FOUR – WEDNESDAY –FEBRUARY 3, 2021 REJECTED BY HIS OWN PEOPLE (MK 6:1-6)

Prayer:

O Jesus, I honor you as the true prophet who has come into the world.

 

Imagination:

Picture Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth

Context:

Jesus returns to Nazareth, accompanied by his disciples. After his teaching, the crowd asks itself three questions which summarize Mark’s gospel. Jesus has shown authority, wisdom and healing powers. However, the whole atmosphere of the synagogue is disbelief. The result is a foregone conclusion. Jesus can heal only a few who have faith.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus came to his own town with his disciples. On a sabbath, he entered the synagogue and began to teach. Many listened in admiration, saying, “How did he learn all these things? Where did he get this wisdom? By what power can he do these works? 

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Jude and Simon? Are not his sisters with us.” They found him too much for them. 

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is without honor only in his native place, in his own house and among his own relatives.” He could work no miracle there. He only cured a few people by laying hands on them. 

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. In his return to Nazareth, Jesus has much greater stature. He enjoys a reputation and has a large group of disciples. 
  2. He acts at Nazareth exactly as he did in the other towns. He teaches about the power of God. 
  3. The reaction here is different. There is no awe or wonder or pressing in to touch his garment. 
  4. Jesus confronts this response. Hometown people often refuse to believe the greatness of someone they know so well. 
  5. Jesus is deeply disappointed. He cannot help the very people he grew up with. 
  6. Nazareth loses its blessings. They are deprived of divine miracles. Even more important, they have no faith in Jesus, their native son. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • Jesus, you are known to the whole world. Your believers live in every country. This is a great sign to me. 
  • You offer your powers to everyone. You will bless all who believe. 
  • Jesus, you want to bless me. Your only disappointment is when I do not believe. 
  • Fill me with awe and wonder. Let me press in like the believing woman. 
  • How many blessings will come from you today! Let me gather them up. Every one is important. 

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ I will see every event this day in the light of faith. 

+ I will ask for blessings all day long. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

He could work no miracle there. 

WEEK FOUR – TUESDAY – FEBRUARY 2, 2021 The Presentation of the Lord SIMEON’S INSPIRED WORDS (LK 2:22:40)

Prayer:

Come, Holy Spirit. Lead me this day to your divine appointment.

Imagination:

Picture Simeon praising God with Jesus in his arms.

Context:

After forty days, Mary and Joseph fulfill the Mosaic Law by presenting Jesus in the temple. Surprisingly, Simeon appears on the scene. Luke says that the Holy Spirit was with Simeon, revealed the future to him and led him into the temple.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.) 

In Jerusalem was a man named Simeon. He was just, devout and waited for the consolation of Israel. The Holy Spirit was with him. The Spirit had told him that he would not see death until he had seen the anointed one of the Lord.

On this day, the Spirit led him to the temple. When his parents brought in the child Jesus, according to the custom of the law, he took him in his arms and blessed God.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. Simeon totally dedicated his life to God.
  2. He is just, devout and awaiting the consolation of Israel.
  3. Even more important, the Spirit of God is upon him.
  4. The Spirit had spoken to him, promising that he would see the Messiah.
  5. Simeon is not a priest and has no duty to remain in the temple. He is guided by the Spirit.
  6. The Spirit says, “Go quickly to the temple, Simeon. Today is the day.”
  7. He keeps his divine appointment. He is at the right place at the right time, the very moment when the parents bring in the child.
  8. He receives his promised gift, seeing and holding the Messiah.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O God, I will be devout and await your kingdom.
  • O Jesus, let your Spirit anoint me.
  • Help me to believe your promises to me.
  • When your Spirit speaks, I will listen. When he leads, I will follow.
  • O God, let your inner stirrings move me to the right place at the right time.
  • Jesus, someday I will see you and hold you.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ With God’s help, I will be just and devout today.

+ Today, I will open my heart to the Spirit’s promptings.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation.) 

On this day, the Spirit led Simeon to the temple.

WEEK FOUR – MONDAY – FEBRUARY 1, 2021 POWER OVER SATAN – (MK 5:1-20)

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, set me free in the power of your name.

Imagination:

Picture the possessed man coming to Jesus and his disciples.

Context:

Although this story seems strange, biblical scholars agree that it happened. (Although it probably is two stories joined together.) Jesus began his ministry to Israel with an exorcism. Now, as he reaches Gentile territory for the first time, he again performs an exorcism.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When they came to the country of the Gerasenes, Jesus got out of the ship and was met by a man with an unclean spirit. He had been living among the tombs and could not be constrained even with chains, for he had pulled them apart and smashed them. Day and night he was among the tombs, crying out and cutting himself.

Seeing Jesus afar off, he ran up and adored him. Crying out, he said, “What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the most high God? I adjure you by God that you do not torment me.” He said this because Jesus was saying, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man.”

Jesus asked him “What is your name?” He answered, “My name is Legion because we are many.” And they asked Jesus not to drive them far from this region.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. The devil loves the tombs, where all is death.
  2. The man’s state is horrendous. He is lonely, insane and self-destructive.
  3. When Jesus arrives, however, he senses that he can find freedom and new life.
  4. The devils know that Jesus possesses greater power and that they are about to lose their control.
  5. Since Jesus has authority, they must admit that they are a legion of devils.
  6. They are helpless. Soon, they will surrender their resting place.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, without you I am as good as dead to all that you have created.
  • My life would have only loneliness, endless torture and anxiety.
  • But you came into my life. Your light pierced my darkness and I came to you.
  • Lord, your power is greater than my demons. In your name, I am free.
  • O Jesus, I run to you. I see in you a light of hope.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ I will not lose hope in facing the darkness of despair.

+ I will call out to Jesus to use his power.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Seeing Jesus, afar off, he ran to him.

SUNDAY (B)– JANUARY 31, 2021 AN EXORCISM IN THE SYNAGOGUE (MK 1:21-28)

Prayer:

Come Holy Spirit. Set me free from the Kingdom of Darkness. 

Imagination:

Picture Jesus in a synagogue setting the man free from the unclean spirit. 

Context:

Mark groups his stories by geography. The next few stories take place at Capernaum, and provide a quick overview of Jesus’ activities. Jesus’ ministry begins in the Jewish culture and in their place of religious worship – the synagogue. 

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

In Capernaum, Jesus entered the synagogue on the sabbath and began to teach. The people were spellbound by his teaching because he taught with authority and not like the scribes. In the synagogue, there was a man with an unclean spirit who cried out, “What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet! Come out of the man.” The unclean spirit convulsed him. Then crying out with a loud voice, the spirit left him. 

All were amazed and asked among themselves, “What is this? What is this new teaching with authority? He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread over the whole region of Galilee. 

Thoughts: ( Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you).

  1. The man had attended the synagogue for years, but the synagogue had no power over his unclean spirit. 
  2. When Jesus enters, the demon can no longer stay hidden. 
  3. The demon faces a powerful new enemy and realizes that Jesus has come to destroy him. 
  4. The demons know well that Jesus is “the Holy One” come from the Father. 
  5. Jesus acts quickly so the unclean spirit can do little harm. 
  6. This was never heard of before. The people have never seen such power. The word about Jesus spreads quickly. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, how many hidden forces come against me?
  • Without you, O Lord, these forces would control my life and I would be in complete darkness. 
  • Jesus, you are the demons’ powerful enemy. To me, you are a mighty friend. 
  • Cast out from me any powers of darkness that dwell within me. 
  • Come to my synagogue, O Jesus – to my heart which needs your cleansing. 
  • Never have I seen such power as yours, and you always use it for my benefit. 

Resolution: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ Does the demon have any power over me? I will examine my conscience. 

+ If involved in occult practices, I will confess them and seek total freedom. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

He commands even the evil spirits and they obey him. 

WEEK THREE – SATURDAY – JANUARY 30, 2021 POWER OVER THE SEA (MK 4:35-41)

Prayer:

O Jesus, calm the storms in my own life. 

Imagination:

Picture the fearful disciples in the boat, while Jesus calms the sea. 

Context:

Mark begins a series of 5 stories showing Jesus’ power. In this first calming of the sea (Jesus does it a second time in 6:45-52), Jesus is in the boat. The text highlights the disciples waking him up (before the miracle) and their awe at his power (after the miracle).

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When evening came, Jesus said, “Let us go to the other side.” Jesus dispersed the crowd and they took him in their boat. There were also other boats. A storm blew up and the waves beat against the boat which filled up with water. 

Jesus was in the rear part, asleep on a pillow. They woke him up and said, “Master, are you not concerned that we could die?” Getting up, he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace, be still.” The wind ceased and the sea became calm. 

Jesus said to them. “Why are you fearful? Are you lacking in faith?” They were very much afraid and said to one another, “Who is this whom even the wind and the sea obey?” 

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. There were many boats but Jesus travels in the boat with his disciples. He wants them to witness his power. 
  2. The wind and the sea are symbols of demonic chaos that can destroy our desire to be good disciples. 
  3. The disciples have faith. They wake Jesus up, wanting the storm to be ended. 
  4. However, if they had greater faith, they would have left him sleeping. 
  5. Faith believes in Jesus, whether he is awake or asleep. 
  6. He rebukes the wind and the sea, just as he rebuked the devils in his exorcisms. 
  7. As always, peace overcomes the chaos. 
  8. The apostles know that only God can tame the wind and sea. So, they ask, “Who is this Jesus?” 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, travel in my boat. You are always welcome. 
  • When chaos and evil surround me, You alone are my safeguard. 
  • When I awaken you, you always help me. 
  • Let me imitate the Little Flower, who allowed you to sleep even when the storms raged. 
  • You can sleep, Jesus and still care for me. 
  • You are Lord. You are God. You are Saviour. You are Redeemer. You are powerful. I am weak. 

Resolutions: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

+ I will never begin a task without having Jesus in my boat. 

+ I will always believe that his power can do all things. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Even the wind and the sea obey him. 

WEEK THREE – FRIDAY – JANUARY 29, 2021 SEEDS OF THE KINGDOM (MK 4:26-34)

Prayer:

O Jesus, plant your Kingdom in my heart. 

Imagination:

Picture Jesus teaching the crowds. 

Context:

Jesus uses two parables concerning seeds to show the power of the Kingdom. In the first parable, the farmer does nothing but “go to bed.” In the second parable, the tiniest seed produces the “largest of trees.” 

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is like a man casting seed on the earth. He goes to bed and gets up, day after day. The seed grows but he does not know how because the earth itself brings forth first the blade, then the ear and then the wheat in the ear. When the crop is ready, he immediately wields the sickle because the harvest has come.” 

Jesus also said, “What comparison can we use for the Kingdom of God? Or what image can we use to portray it? It is like a grain of mustard seed planted in the earth, the smallest of all the seeds. When it grows, it becomes the largest of shrubs and gives off great branches so all the birds of the air live under its shadow.” 

By means of these parables, he taught the crowds the message in the way that they could understand. When alone with the disciples, he explained things privately. 

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. Jesus explains great mysteries by using images that people easily understand. 
  2. The farmer does two things. He just plants the seed and he harvests the crop. 
  3. He does not even understand the important part of the process (the seed growing). He just goes to bed. 
  4. Meanwhile, the seeds grow perfectly according to the right stages of blade, ear and wheat. 
  5. The mustard seed contains the same mystery. What a difference between the small beginning and the final result. No one does anything. They do not even harvest it. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, your teaching is easy to understand. 
  • Lord, open my heart to your Kingdom and allow it to grow within me. 
  • O Jesus, the abundance comes from the powerful Kingdom that you gave me in Baptism. 
  • Only your Kingdom gives my life its full purpose. 
  • How much I will accomplish if I allow your seeds to grow! 
  • If I yield to your Kingdom, You will bless many others. 

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own)

+ I will totally trust the power of the Kingdom. 

+ I will believe that God wants to accomplish great things through me. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The seed grows by itself and the farmer knows nothing. 

WEEK THREE – THURSDAY, JANUARY 28, 2021 SOME SAYINGS (MK 4-21-25)

Prayer:

O Lord, put your light on the lampstand of my heart. 

Imagination:

Picture Jesus speaking to the disciples. 

Context:

This text is really four different sayings which Mark links by opposite words, like hidden/revealed and given/taken away. They are all teachings about the Kingdom.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said to the crowd, “Is a lamp acquired to be put under a bushel basket or hidden under a bed? Is it not meant to be set on the lampstand? 

Nothing is hidden which will not be revealed. Nothing is secret that will not be told. Let him who has ears to hear me, hear.” 

He said, “Listen carefully to what you hear. In the measure that you measure out, you shall receive and more beside. 

To the one who has, more will be given. To him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” 

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. In Palestine, a lit candle was put under a basket or a bed, so the people could sleep. That, however, is not where the light of the Kingdom belongs. 
  2. When the Kingdom comes, all will be revealed. 
  3. The disciple must not stay in the darkness. 
  4. Jesus constantly warns. When he gives us his Kingdom we have a responsibility to accept the favor. 
  5. A limited acceptance of the Kingdom means limited blessings (the measure by which you measure). 
  6. If you receive the Kingdom abundantly, you will receive more. If you seek only a little, you will probably lose that also, because you did not appreciate the gift. 

Affection: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, let the light of your Kingdom dominate all my desires. 
  • You see everything, Jesus. You see my desires, my thoughts, my words, my deeds. Nothing is done in darkness. 
  • When you speak, let my ears hear and my heart respond. 
  • Your Kingdom is everything to me. I seek nothing else. 
  • O Jesus, I will make more room in my heart for your Kingdom. 
  • Multiply the favors of your Kingdom. Never take away what I treasure so much. 

Resolutions: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

+ I will examine my heart. Do I seek only God’s Kingdom? 

+ I will walk in light and in truth, never in darkness and in lies. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

To him who has, more will be given. 

WEEK THREE – WEDNESDAY – JANUARY 27, 2021 THE POWERFUL SEED (MK 4:1-20)

Prayer:

O Jesus, let the seed of your word flourish within me. 

Imagination:

Picture Jesus surrounded by the crowd. 

Context:

Mark’s gospel has very few parables and most deal with seeds (an image of the Kingdom). Parables are central to Jesus’ teaching and express the themes that are closest to his heart. This text is a parable of hope. Jesus overcomes the disappointment of his disciples, who see many not receiving the Kingdom. Jesus describes Palestinian farming, where the seed is thrown everywhere because the plowing takes place later.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Because a large crowd gathered, Jesus got in a boat to teach them, as they stood on the shore. He taught them in parables. “Listen now, the sower went out to sow. Some seed fell by the wayside and the birds of the air ate them. Other seed fell on stony ground where there was not much soil. It grew quickly but had no deep soil. When the sun rose, it was scorched and withered away because it had no roots. 

Some seed fell among thorns. The thorns grew and choked it and there was no yield of grain. Some seed fell on good ground. This seed gave fruit that yielded thirty, sixty or a hundredfold. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. The seed is God’s word containing the life of the Kingdom. 
  2. God’s word is perfect. All the seeds are equal, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. 
  3. Jesus preaches to all, and his words enter everyone’s ears. They all hear and receive. 
  4. Some hearts are like rocks, or superficial soil or thorns. Seeds in those hearts produce no harvest. 
  5. Surprisingly, these failures are not important. The farmer has a gigantic harvest. 
  6. The seed is so powerful that when it finds some good soil, it produces an unimaginable harvest. 

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  • O Jesus, plant your Kingdom in my heart. 
  • Your Kingdom contains every power needed to sanctify me. 
  • You preach to all. You do not hold back your word. I can receive it whenever I wish. 
  • O Jesus, look at my heart. It is filled with rocks and with thorns and is so superficial. 
  • Jesus, part of my heart is good ground. Pour out your seed and the harvest will be abundant. 
  • O Jesus, let us rejoice together in a gigantic harvest. 

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

+ I will seek God’s word in the gospels. 

+ When I hear Jesus’ word, I will receive it with a generous spirit. 

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Whoever has ears to hear. Let him listen.