JANUARY 30, 2016 – WEEK THREE – SATURDAY – POWER OVER THE SEA

(Mark 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.)

  1. O Jesus, travel in my boat. You are always welcome.
  2. When chaos and evil surround me, You alone are my safeguard.
  3. When I awaken you, you always help me.
  4. Let me imitate the Little Flower, who allowed you to sleep even when the storms raged.
  5. You can sleep, Jesus and still care for me.
  6. 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.)

  1. I will never begin a task without having Jesus in my boat.
  2. 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.

JANUARY 29, 2016 – WEEK THREE – FRIDAY – SEEDS OF THE KINGDOM

(Mark 4:26-34)

Prayer – O Jesus, plant your Kingdom on 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.)

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

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

  1. I will totally trust the power of the Kingdom.
  2. 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.

JANUARY 28, 2016 – WEEK THREE – THURSDAY – SOME SAYINGS

(Mark 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.)

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

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

  1. I will examine my heart. Do I seek only God’s Kingdom?
  2. 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.

JANUARY 27, 2016 – WEEK THREE – WEDNESDAY – PART ONE – THE POWERFUL SEED

(Mark 4:1-9)

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.)

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

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

  1. I will seek God’s word in the gospels.
  2. 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.

JANUARY 27, 2016 – WEEK THREE – WEDNESDAY – PART TWO – THE DIFFERENT RESPONSES

(Mark 4:10-20)

Prayer – O Jesus, let my heart receive your word.

Imagination- (Picture Jesus teaching the crowds).

Context:

In this part, Jesus explains the parable and a shift takes place. The original parable highlighted the great power of the seed. This explanation highlights the way each person receives the seed.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When they were alone, the disciples asked about the parables. Jesus said, “You are given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God. To the outsiders, all is given in parables so they will look intently but not see, listen carefully but not understand, lest they be converted and their sins forgiven.             He said, “The seed is the word. Those by the wayside are the ones who, as soon as they hear, Satan comes and takes away what was sown.

Those on rocky ground are people who hear the word and immediately receive it with joy, but they have no root and last only a short time. When trials and persecutions arise because of the word, they falter. Those sown among thorns are those who hear the word but the cares of the world, the attractions of riches and their desires for things choke the word and make it fruitless. Those sown on good ground are those who hear the word, take it to heart and yield fruit, thirty, sixty, a hundredfold.

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

  1. Jesus’ parables appeal to the heart. If the person’s heart is right, he will understand the meaning. If his heart is not right, he will remain in darkness.
  2. Some believers do not protect the seed. They do not treasure it. Satan, like a bird in the sky, can easily steal it away.
  3. Some believers do not allow the seed to claim their heart. They are superficial and easily surrender their faith, as if it is of no value.
  4. Some believers mix the seed with their other desires, wishing to have both heaven and earth.
  5. Inevitably, worldly possessions and selfish desires claim their heart. What comes forth is choked.
  6. True believers treasure the seed because it is precious. They protect it so trials do not destroy. They remove other desires so the seed can grow.
  7. They rejoice in a super-abundant harvest.

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

  1. Jesus, I must give you my heart. Then, I will understand your parables.
  2. O Jesus, I treasure your word. Hide it deep within. I do not want it stolen.
  3. O Jesus, place your friendship at the deepest part of my being.
  4. Let your word go deep into my heart so a harvest comes forth from me.
  5. Remove all my selfish and worldly desires.
  6. O Lord, only Your word contains the seed of eternal life. It alone must claim my heart.

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

  1. I will read the gospels every day.
  2. In total generosity, I will open my heart to the Kingdom.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

To you are given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom.

JANUARY 26, 2016 – WEEK THREE – TUESDAY – HAVING A NEW FAMILY

(Mark 3:31-35)

Prayer – O Jesus, let me be a member of your family.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus saying to you, “You are my brother and sister and mother.”)

Context:

Mark often begins a story, tells another story and then completes the first story. This story begins with the family squabble. (3:20-21) The word, “outside” refers to the family. “Inside” refers to those who do God’s will. Don’t get upset by this story. It doesn’t mean that Mary complains. (Mark never uses Mary’s name. She is entirely absent in this gospel). Mark says “his mother” because he wants to say that the disciple can become Jesus’ mother.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

His mother and his relatives came. They stood outside and sent someone to say, “Your mother and your relatives are outside looking for you.”

Jesus responded, “Who is my mother and my relatives? “ Looking at those seated around him, Jesus said, “These are my mother and my relatives. Whoever does the will of God is my brother and my sister and my mother.”

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

  1. These complainers are related to Jesus by nature, but not by faith. Therefore, they are outside the Kingdom.
  2. They act like the world, and try to destroy Jesus’ ministry.
  3. Those in the house listening to him are insiders. They belong to Jesus’ family.
  4. Jesus announces a new reality. He is forming a new family of God.
  5. All who do God’s will are a brother, a sister, or even a mother to Jesus.

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

  1. O Jesus, how sorry the state of those who do not know you. They are outside of the Kingdom.
  2. I want to be inside, someone who knows and does God’s will.
  3. Form me into your family. Oh, to be a child of God! Nothing. Nothing is a greater blessing.
  4. Who can believe your call? Whose heart could imagine your invitation to be a member of your family?
  5. O Jesus, I will always do God’s will. Then, I will be your brother or sister.

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

  1. I will ponder the great privilege of being a child of God.
  2. I will seek God’s will all during the day.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Whoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister and my mother.

JANUARY 25, 2016 – WEEK THREE – MONDAY – CASTING OUT SATAN

(Mark 3:22-30)

Prayer – O Jesus, by your power, free me from the Evil One.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus in his controversy with the scribes.)

Context:

Mark presents another group of critics, the scribes. However, Jesus does not answer them. Jesus speaks to the crowds to get a fair hearing. He destroys the scribe’s argument by sheer logic. Then, he defines his relationship to the demonic world. He is more powerful than satan who holds all mankind in bondage. Finally Jesus speaks about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, a sin which the scribes have committed by attributing God’s power to the Evil One.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

The scribes from Jerusalem claimed “He is possessed by Beelzebub and he casts out devils by the prince of devils.” Jesus then spoke to the crowds in a parable. “How can Satan cast out Satan? A Kingdom divided against itself, cannot stand. A house divided against itself also cannot stand. If Satan has suffered mutiny in his ranks, he is divided and cannot stand. He is finished. No one can enter a strong man’s house and rob him of his goods unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he plunders his house. All sins shall be forgiven mankind and all blasphemies, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, shall never be forgiven. He carries the guilt of his sin forever.

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

  1. The evidence is overwhelming and the scribes have to admit that Jesus drives out demons.
  2. So, they claim the source of this power is the prince of demons.
  3. Their argument is ridiculous. Satan’s kingdom would be divided and would certainly end.
  4. Jesus describes Satan as a strong man who has captured the human race.
  5. Jesus, however, is stronger. He ties up Satan and is sets people free.
  6. Blasphemy against the Spirit is when a person rejects Jesus’ power, saying it comes from Satan.
  7. The scribes have done this and will not seek Jesus’ forgiveness.

 

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

  1. O Jesus, Satan has no hold over you. You have all authority.
  2. Your power and his power will forever clash.
  3. O Jesus, Your power is divine and I fully trust you with my life.
  4. Set me free. Plunder Satan’s possessions. Remove his control over my life.
  5. Without you, Satan would make this world into his hell.
  6. With you, earth becomes like the Kingdom of God.
  7. O Holy Spirit, forgive all my sins. You are divine and have all the Father’s powers.

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

  1. I will examine my life and discover where Satan has control over me.
  2. I will deliberately come under Jesus’ power.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Jesus ties up the strong man and plunders his possessions, setting us free.

JANUARY 24, 2016 – WEEK THREE – SUNDAY – (C) – THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS

(Luke 4:14-21)

Prayer – O Jesus, send the Spirit of the Father upon me.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching in the synagogue.)

Context:

Having overcome Satan’s three temptations, Jesus begins his public ministry. Other gospels record this visit to the synagogue but Luke gives it preeminence. This is Jesus’ inauguration address, highlighting all the themes of Luke’s gospel.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee and his reputation spread throughout the region. He taught in their synagogue and was praised by all.

Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been raised and, entering the synagogue on the sabbath as he was accustomed, he got up to read. The book of the prophet, Isaiah, was given to him and he found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and the release of prisoners. To preach a year of favor from the Lord.”

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down. All the eyes of the synagogue were upon him. He said to them, “This day, this reading is fulfilled in your hearing.”

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

  1. Jesus loved to preach in the synagogue where good people, eager for God’s word, gathered.
  2. Jesus explains the source of his power. The Holy Spirit has come upon him.
  3. He chooses a text which outlines his call. He will preach and set free.
  4. Every group (the poor, the captives, the blind) will receive the favors.
  5. Jesus’ ministry means an extended time of God’s favor for all Israel.
  6. Because his reputation had spread, all eyes were on him.

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

  1. Jesus, I know your reputation and I desire your favor.
  2. O Jesus, the Spirit of the Lord is upon you. Send the Spirit upon me.
  3. I am poor. Preach your gospel to me. I am a captive. Set me free. I am blind. Help me to see.
  4. Your time of favor is extensive – all the years of my life.
  5. The Kingdom has come and has brought all your blessings.
  6. I will not delay. I will not put off accepting you as my King.

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

  1. I will be faithful to my reading of Scripture.
  2. Today, I will ask Jesus for the Holy Spirit.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me.