These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
Jesus said to the crowd:
“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, he places it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light. (Lk 8:16-18)
We celebrate today the first martyrs of Korea. Andrew Kim Taegōn was the first native born Korean priest. He was martyred at age 25. Paul Chōng Ha-sang was a catechist. He wrote the first catechism in Korean and was 45 when he gave his life for Christ. There were 103 Korean martyrs canonized together. It is estimated that in the 1800’s between 8,000 to 10,000 were killed for their faith. May their light continue to shine on Korea and the whole world!
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?”
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” (Mk 9:30-37)
Christian ambition is in us all. No wonder the Lord has to sit himself down and call us around and give us a teaching. Perhaps this is where the most treasured title of the popes comes from: “Servant of the Servants of God.” The caption on today's picture says: "Whoever would be first, must be the last of all and the servant of all" (Mk 9:35).
After saying this, he called out,
“Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”
Then his disciples asked him what the meaning of this parable might be. (Lk 8:4-15)
We shouldn’t be surprised that the church didn’t understand the parables any better than the disciples. But the parables are an essential part of the teaching ministry of Jesus. The church was content to distill a “truth” from the parable and then preach that truth. But the parables are far more complex. They can’t be reduced to some hidden truth. If we allow the parables to be the stories that Jesus told to reveal the mystery of the Kingdom, then we might just be surprised that in the Kingdom the blind see, the lost are found, the poor have seats of honor, and the dead are raised to life. Today Colombia celebrates Día de Amor y Amistad (Day of Love and Friendship); it's Colombia's Saint Valentine's Day!
Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another,
preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Accompanying him were the Twelve
and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza,
Susanna, and many others
who provided for them out of their resources. (Lk 8:1-3)
How important are the women disciples of the Lord! How important are the women doctors of the church! Hildegard heard the “voice of the Living Light.”
Now there was a sinful woman in the city
who learned that he was at table in the house of Simon, the Pharisee.
Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
So I tell you, Simon, her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.” (Lk 7:35-50)
Jesus was accused of being “soft on sinners.” Perhaps he is. “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.” Cornelius and Cyprian were both martyred and are celebrated together.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (Jn 19:25-27)
The Octave of the Feast of the Birth of Mary is this feast of the Sorrowful Mother which is linked to yesterday’s feast of the Holy Cross. The church has always seen the Beloved Disciple as standing in for all of us, the beloved disciples of the Lord.
At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last. (from the sequence hymn, Stabat Mater)
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him. (Jn 3:13-17)
If God loves the world and everyone in it so much, then perhaps we should too. The Son came not to condemn but to save. In most of Latin America this feast is celebrated on May 3.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you
because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.