. . . . 2017-01-11, 1st Wed Ord A, Free Again

Homily 1-11-17
1st Wed Ord Yr 1
Heb 2:14-18; PS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9; Mk 1:29-39

(Scriptures included after homily)

There is a form of prayer that’s called Lectio Divina, which comes from the Latin, meaning Divine Reading.  It’s called Divine, because it goes beyond our standard methods of reading for fun, or study, or entertainment.  Lectio Divina is like sitting at a table at Hardee’s for a conversation with Jesus over a cup of coffee.

As a matter of fact, the four-Movements of Lectio Divina have been described as “Feasting on the Word of God with Jesus.”

And it begins with that First Bite – the Lectio, or Reading of a Scripture verse or passage.  This is best done when it’s read multiple times, and in community with others.

Those Words are then chewed upon in the second Movement, which is called Meditatio or Meditation.  This is where we ask – What Jesus is saying to us through His Scriptures. We might think of it – as our discovery mode.

We then savor the delicacy of our feast in the third step – of Oratio or Prayer, where we enter into dialog with Jesus.

The last Movement of Contemplatio or Contemplation, is when we swallow and digest what we’ve learned, making it a living part of our own bodies.

So Lectio Divina is the Reading, Meditation, Prayer and Contemplation of the Sacred Scriptures.

St. Clare of Assisi went one step further, offering as a Final step – Imitation, which allows that Word to grow through our sharing of it with others.

But however it’s done, its Divine outcome is to bring us closer to knowing Jesus, to knowing God.

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Now the reason I mention this today is because – these early, Ordinary-Time Readings – are the perfect food for Lectio Divina.  They help us to get to know Who Jesus is, and who WE are too.

For example, in Mark’s Gospel passage we can meditate on the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law by the simple touch of Jesus . . . and how He raised her up, just as He raised up Lazarus, just as He Himself was raised, and just as every one of us was raised up this morning, sick or well, for our morning Communion with Jesus and one another.

But the passage that struck me the deepest this morning, and the one that I think we should all meditate, pray and contemplate on, was in our first reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, where it said that, through His own death, Jesus might:  “Free those, who through fear of death, had been subject to slavery all their life.”

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And I wondered, How does Fear of Death, subject us to Slavery?  So I sat down and wrote, what I thought were the Three-main Reasons that we Fear Death.

The First is Cost.  If I’m the breadwinner for my family, How will they survive if I’m gone?  And even if I’m totally independent, I know that the very prospect of death is not a cheap undertaking.  So we might fear death because we just can’t afford it.

Remember, Jesus said, Don’t worry about your life, your food, your clothes, your body . . . But seek first the  Kingdom of God and all these things will be given you besides.

The Second reason we may fear death is Pain.  Most of us don’t like pain, whether it’s physical or psychological.  And we tend to imagine that death will be painful. But you know what, it’s really LIFE that can be painful.  And Jesus is certainly here to help us with that aspect of our existence, when we place our trust in Him.  I guess the pain in death really just depends on where we think . . . we are headed!

Which brings us to our Third Reason for fearing death . . . Readiness.  Is anyone ever ready for the death of ourselves, or our loved ones?  Are we spiritually ready?  At a moment’s notice?  Are we physically ready for the Cost, the Pain, the Loss?  And then, who’s going to take over all that stuff – that I’m in the middle of?  Or will it just disappear forever?  So the third reason we may fear death is that we Never Feel, quite Ready for it.

You see, in our Fear of Death, we become Slaves: to Money for survival, to Drugs for relief of our pain, and to the constant Anxiety of being Ready, at ANY time, for death to knock at our door.  And all of that Slavery, then leads to all the other dysfunctions in our world.

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And yet, the Writer of Hebrews consoles us with the FACT . . . that Jesus came to FREE “those who, through Fear of death, have been subject to Slavery all their life.”

Jesus has shown us, by His Own life, that He has Power over Physical illness, if we allow Him – to Raise us up too!

Jesus has shown us that He has Power to Deliver us from the demons who want to possess our thoughts and our will.  All we need do is ASK for that deliverance, and believe.

And Jesus has shown us that He has the Power to Free us from all Anxiety, IF we follow – His simple formula:

Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be given you besides.  (Mt 6:33)

The greatest of which . . .
is NOT death, but
Eternal Life!

jmp 01-11-17

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 01-11-17
First Wednesday of Ordinary Time, Yr. 1

First Reading:  Heb 2:14-18

Since the children share in blood and Flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the Devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life.

Surely he did not help angels but rather the descendants of Abraham; therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people.

Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Responsorial Psalm:  PS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name; make known among the nations his deeds.  Sing to him, sing his praise, proclaim all his wondrous deeds.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD! Look to the LORD in his strength; seek to serve him constantly.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

You descendants of Abraham, his servants, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones! He, the LORD, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

He remembers forever his covenant which he made binding for a thousand generations – Which he entered into with Abraham and by his oath to Isaac.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Gospel:  Mk 1:29-39

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.  They immediately told him about her.  He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door.  He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.  Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”  He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”

So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

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