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.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Today would have been my Colombian Madrecita’s 93rd birthday, Ofelia Arroyave (1931-2016). She once said to me, “Padre, you’re my oldest child.” I am very proud that she counted me among her 10 children. Now she has 11! May she dance with the angels! The Daily Reflection, the Orchid Ministry and the Mass in Spanish with a Little Bit of English (on Facebook) will be on vacation until Sunday, February 4th. You will all be in my Masses and Prayers.
While he was at table in (Levi’s) house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus heard this and said to them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mk 2:13-17)
The eating and drinking with sinners is probably one of the oldest memories of the table ministry of Jesus and a foundational memory of the Eucharist itself. Saturdays are traditionally dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah" — which is translated Christ — Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas" — which is translated Peter. (Jn 1:35-42)
Although the Fourth Gospel doesn’t mention anything about the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and Peter’s eventual three denials of Jesus are really highlighted in the Passion Narrative, still Peter plays a significant role in the gospel along with the figure of the Beloved Disciple. But none of that would have happened if Andrew hadn’t told his brother about the Lord.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” (Mk 2:1-12)
How important are our friends! Sometimes it’s our friends who bring us to the Lord. How important is our prayer for one another, sometimes it’s the faith of our friends that gets us through.
A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” (Mk 1:40-45)
The healing of the leper occurs in the very first chapter of the gospel that church tradition calls “According to Mark.” (The gospel itself does not tell us the identity of the writer.) The remarkable part of the healing is that Jesus touches the leper and then tells the person to say nothing to anyone. Instead the person spreads it abroad and so Jesus can no longer “enter a town openly,” but rather like a leper, he stays in deserted places. Yet people keep “coming to him from everywhere.”
Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So Eli said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Sam 3:1-10, 19-20)
The wisdom of the old priest, Eli, helped the young Samuel to hear the voice of the Lord. I love Bible stories, they have stayed with me all my life. I remember when my Sunday School teacher, Mrs Strong, first told us the story of young Samuel sleeping in the Temple. I couldn’t have been more than 5 years old. I still have the little crocheted cross that Mrs Strong gave me almost 70 years ago!
Early the next morning they worshiped before the LORD, and then returned to their home in Ramah. When Elkanah had relations with his wife Hannah, the LORD remembered her. She conceived, and at the end of her term bore a son whom she called Samuel, since she had asked the LORD for him. (I Sm 1:9-20)
Today’s responsorial psalm is Hannah’s Hymn of Praise for the gift of her son, Samuel. The gospel writer, Luke, will use Hannah’s Hymn to compose Mary’s Magnificat. Today we begin Ordinary Time which takes its name from the word ordinal . . . meaning number, because the weeks of ordinary time are counted, so this is the First Week of Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time will be interrupted by Lent and Easter, but afterwards we will resume counting the weeks until Advent.