Amos 8:4-6.9-12; Mt 9:1-8
I imagine what I would be thinking and feeling had I been a bystander watching the events unfold as told in Matthew 9: 1-8. A paralytic on a stretcher who rises and walks away after hearing Jesus say, "Courage, child, your sins are forgiven. Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home." Upon which the man rises and goes home.
This gospel story has much that is unusual about it; there is, for example, quite some question even about where this place actually is. As it stands in the lectionary, Jesus seems to arrive here alone or with companions who play no role in what happens, and there is no teaching, no healing, no forgiveness, no apparent religious outcome, and no conversation with the men who are the victims of the demons. The whole center of the story is that Jesus appears, the demons approach Jesus and make a request, and Jesus responds to them positively. At that point Jesus and the formerly possessed (and probably pagan) men virtually disappear from the narrative.
We all can relate to today’s Gospel. Storms and raging seas—of every kind and description—are a part of our experiences.
Key action in the Gospel is what happens between the beginning of the “violent storm” and the “great calm.” The disciples, of course, are scared to death, they wake Jesus and shout: “Lord, save us. We are perishing.” Once he is alert Jesus not only rebukes the wind and the seas, but he also rebukes his followers when Jesus addresses them as “You of little faith.”
Not as a prize for saying the correct answer, but as an affirmation and ordination, Peter is called to be the”Foundation” person among the “called”. The word we use for “church”, which is taken from the Greek, means “those who gather together because they have heard something which calls them together”. Peter is named to be the chief caller. In a sense he is called to be a caller. He became the first person of the Church and so defines what the Church is.
He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward."
Meditation: Who or what takes first place in your life - in your daily thoughts, cares, and concerns? God has put us first in his thought, care, and concern for our well-being and future. God loved us first and our love for him is a response to his exceeding kindness and mercy towards us. Even while we were hopelessly adrift through our own sinful pride, rebellion and unbelief, he choose to give us his own beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for our sake - to set us free from slavery to sin, Satan, and death.
"Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.”
The centurion, the one who expresses the words above, is one who is used to having power and commanding others. We see this in his own appeal to Jesus, “And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come here,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it.” And yet, he recognizes that his own power is nothing compared to that of Jesus. How often I find myself wanting to control a situation or tell God how something should be. It sometimes takes me a while before I step back and realize that I am not ultimately in control. The moment that I re-remember that I am not in control is actually quite liberating. Placing my trust and faith in God over and over again is a part of my spiritual journey.
"Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him"
The greatest disease in the West today is not tuberculosis or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty – it is not only a poverty of loneliness bu also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love as there is a hunger for God.
Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), founder of the Missionary Sisters of Charity
Painted by Lyn Deutsch
The first part of today’s gospel reading is about consistency between stated goals and steps to reach them. Calling myself a follower of the Lord will take me nowhere, unless I bring that proclaimed allegiance to bear on the way I live, unless I am “one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Most of us realize this and so we set about doing something to qualify as legitimate followers of the Lord. But that is where the second part of today’s gospel reading plays an important role.
Isaiah 49:1-6; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66, 80
Today is known as “Little Christmas”. It is the birth of the sixth-month older cousin of Jesus. There were some who believed John to be the Christ, but the Gospels make it quite clear that his destiny was to be the forerunner and baptizer of the Christ.
There is nothing known or written about any friendship they enjoyed after their womb-to-womb meeting during Mary’s visitation to John’s mother, Elizabeth. John is pictured as having a light to shine toward and upon Jesus, but as the Evangelist John writes in his first chapter, “He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.” John 1, 8