AD SENSE

4th Week, Wednesday, Feb 3

 4th Week, Wednesday, Feb 3

Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15 / Mark 6:1-6

 Don’t give up: Don’t lose heart.

A new clergyman gave a great first sermon to his new congregation. The following Sunday, his new congregation returned with great anticipation and high expectation. To their surprise, the pastor repeated the same sermon. He did the same thing the next two Sundays.

The congregation sent a committee to him for an explanation. He said to them, “I plan to keep repeating that first sermon until I see you doing something about it.” The author of the Letter to the Hebrews employed similar repetition when it came to exhorting his readers not to be discouraged and to persevere in their struggle in the faith.

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How seriously do we take to heart the word of God that we hear each Sunday? “If you only knock long enough ... you are sure to wake up someone.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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The author of Hebrews encourages those who had to flee from Jerusalem for the sake of following Jesus. Yes, their trials are hard to bear, but God loves them. He is a Father who corrects and tests his children out of love, that their faith may become more mature through the sufferings and difficulties that are part of life and of our being Christian. Do we too accept this?

 

A man or woman like us from down the street, whose parents we know, how dare he or she speak God’s word to us – if it is God’s word? Jesus, the town carpenter whom everyone knew, how could he work miracles and where did he get this strange message? The Church with all its faults and the priest who is not any better than we are, how dare they speak to us in the name of God? God speaks through ordinary people. God’s word and message are stronger than the weak messengers he sends to speak his prophetic word. The people of Nazareth did not accept Jesus. Do we accept those who speak out for what is right and good?

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One of the difficult things in life to understand is discipline. For discipline to be instilled, it has to be come along with punishment. To try to have discipline without punishment can only be left to imagination. But the question with discipline is about its objective, and the purpose of the punishment that is used to attain it. 

The 1st reading gives us a direction and the balance between discipline and punishment. It says: When the Lord corrects you, do not take it lightly, but do not get discouraged when He reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones that He loves and He punishes all those that He acknowledges as His son. Suffering is part of your training. God is treating you as His sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him?

So when parents discipline their children, some sort of punishment will be necessary, be it corporal punishment or whatever. And when God wants to instil and build up our discipline, He will correct us and even reprimand us through His chosen instruments. On the other hand, when we face rejection and opposition, we also need to see it as a means to train us in discipline and obedience to the Lord.

Jesus, in the gospel, had to face rejection and opposition, but He showed how disciplined He was in carrying out the mission from God. As disciples of Jesus, let us accept hardships and suffering, rejection and opposition. Let us look at these as means to strengthen us to do God's will.
 

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    Encountering Christ:

    1. Seeing Christ: The Jews from Jesus’s neighborhood presumed they knew him and, as a result, they failed to perceive any of his divine reality. Prejudice, presumption, or familiarity can blind us too from seeing that Jesus is in everyone. “We do not have to discover in which of several people Christ is to be found; we must look for him in them all. And not in an experimental spirit, to discover whether he is in them . . . but with the absolute certainty that he is. . . . Christ does not choose to be known through outward appearances—even the appearance of virtue” (Caryll Houslander, The Reed of God).

    2. No Mighty Deeds: It is hard to imagine the Creator of the heavens and earth would be hindered by anything if he wanted to execute his might. We see here that Our Lord values us so completely that he gives us the freedom to believe (or not believe) in his love for us. We are so free that our lack of belief–therefore our lack of permission–in him hinders the completion of good deeds for us. Yet, freedom is love. Nothing forced or kept is truly loved. God knew that when he left the final decision to us. Will we allow Christ to exercise his might in our lives? He waits for us to open ourselves up to him just a little further today. 

    3. He Was Amazed: We know that Jesus raised the dead, walked on water, and made a tiny bit of food enough to feed the multitudes, so we could assume there is little that would amaze him. But here we read Jesus was amazed at the lack of faith of the people in his hometown. Amazed! God has so much to give to us, but when we remain stubborn and stuck in our disbelief he is thwarted. We can pray, therefore, for God to move our heart as the centurion did: “Lord, help my unbelief!” Faith is a gift from God, and we must ask for it and protect it. We should never be amazed when we falter, but we should amaze ourselves if we don’t ask for help when we fall. 

    Conversing with Christ: Lord, how often I forget to intercept the thoughts that tell me you are not divine or that you cannot help me. I must reject those thoughts that are not from you and actively seek your protection and help throughout my day, so as never to “amaze” you with my unbelief. 

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will set a timer on my phone to ring every hour for the next nine hours, and I will pray “Jesus, increase my faith” each time the alarm rings. 

Opening Prayer

God, our Father without equal, your Son, your living Word, came among us as one of our own, our own flesh and blood. Dispose us to welcome him always and to listen to what he tells us, also when his word upsets and disturbs us. And give us too, the courage to pass on his word to one another, that it may liberate us all and lead us to you as your one people. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.