“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36).
The message of this Gospel passage is simple: salvation is coming to the world and it is coming through the Son of Man. We are warned to pay attention, because he will come when we least expect him. We need to keep our ears open and pay attention to what is going on around us so that we can recognize him when he is near.
As we begin our preparations for Christmas, these words remind us that Advent is a time for peace and quiet. This is a stark contrast to the fast-paced way in which our culture celebrates the season.
Why is Advent a time meant for peace and quiet? So that we can detect those hints or signals of God’s presence in our lives; so that we can hear when God knocks on the door of our consciousness; so that we can respond “Yes” to God’s call, just as Mary did when the Angel Gabriel came to her. Our need to be still and listen opens in us opportunities to see, hear, and respond.
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus will come again at the end-time. But now, this very day, Jesus wants to come into our hearts. It is our choice whether or not to let him in. How do we see and hear him? Be still and listen.
Realizing that Jesus is present in the people and places we least expect, what can you do for someone less fortunate?
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International storeTags: a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Advent, advent is time of peace and quiet, angel gabriel, Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, catholic RENEW program, Christ, Christmas, Church, community, First Sunday of Advent, God's love, Good News, good news of salvation, Gospel, Gospel according to Luke, Jesus, Jesus Christ, kingdom of heaven, Luke 21, Mass, message of salvation, pay attention, prayer, preparations for christmas, renew catholic program, RENEW International, respond "yes" to God's call, Scripture, Son of Man, Sunday Gospel, Word of God
What does the logo of the Jubilee Year of Mercy try to say to us?
Merciful Jesus, you know we are little lost lambs and you lift us in your love.
Keep us in your protection always.
“Pilate said to Jesus, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.’ So Pilate said to him, ‘Then you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice’” (John 18:33b-37).
The feast of Christ the King marks the end of the liturgical year and celebrates Jesus as Lord over all of creation. This feast also proclaims Jesus’ mission to bring God’s reign of justice and peace to the entire world. The kingdom that Jesus will rule is very different from the one that Pilate had in mind in when he asked the questions recorded in this reading. Pilate was unable to see beyond his own ideas and was unable to envision a kingdom not founded on power and suppression of enemies.
As this liturgical year draws to a close, we have an opportunity to reflect on how we have grown and changed as a result of studying the nature of discipleship throughout the Gospel according to Mark.
As Christians, we are always on a journey towards a deeper union with God and in service to our brothers and sisters. With Jesus as our King, who welcomes everyone into the fold regardless of economic or social status, we are to bring about a new vision of God’s kingdom of peace and justice. We are to reach out to the disfranchised, the marginalized, and the unacknowledged.
This feast of Christ the King is a feast of hope for all people. Jesus proclaimed a message of love for everyone. We, as his disciples, are called to do no less.
What are your expectations of a leader? How do those expectations affect your own leadership?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.Tags: a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, catholic RENEW program, Christ, disciples, discipleship, end of liturgical year, faith, feast of christ the king, feast of hope, God's kingdom, God's reign of peace, Good News, Gospel, Gospel according to John, hope for all people, Jesus, Jesus Christ, jesus' message of love, John 18, king of the jews, leadership, Mass, pilate, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Scripture, solemnity of christ the king, Sunday Gospel, Word of God
The Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis begins December 8. What is it that makes mercy such an important part of our relationship with God and of our treatment of other people? Why is Pope Francis dedicating an entire year for us to be so mindful of mercy?
God of love, you pour out your mercy to overflowing.
Help us to show mercy to others with the same generosity.
“Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father’” (Mark 13:28-32).
This reading begins, “In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken” (Mark 13:24-25). Darkness, earthquakes, the end of the world … This certainly is not an easy passage to hear.
Mark’s Gospel was written during turbulent times, which ended with the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. Faced with these signs of disaster, Mark’s community was sure that the end was near. They anticipated that the second coming of Christ would happen any day.
Mark affirmed that there would be a second coming and also stressed that we can’t know when it will occur. Mark invited his downcast community into a deeper understanding of the end of time. Instead of giving up in the face of the apocalypse and expecting Jesus to rescue us, true disciples will be working and doing good right through it.
Talk of “doom and gloom” reminds us of the harsh reality that being a disciple brings persecution and suffering. Discipleship is about another way of life, not to be measured by the values of this world. Only when all we know is gone will we really understand what our faithful discipleship has brought.
How are you living the values of the world yet to come? How can you better live these values?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.Tags: a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, apocalypse, Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, catholic RENEW program, Christ, Church, community, discipleship, end of the world, faithful discipleship, fig tree, Good News, Gospel, Gospel According to Mark, kingdom of heaven, Mark 13, Mass, moon will not give light, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, second coming, second coming of Christ, sun will be darkened, Sunday Gospel, the end is near, values of the world, Word of God
The Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis begins one month from today—December 8. Even though it is weeks away, we should get ready now to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event.
God of mercy, you are eager to forgive and quick to forget.
Help us accept the gift of your mercy without question,
and grant forgiveness to ourselves and to others.
“Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood’” (Mark 12:41-44).
The selfless widow exemplifies humility, discretion, and generosity, which are all part of authentic discipleship. Her gift represented everything she had. It was not given from her surplus but rather from her need.
Discipleship means recognizing two things about gifts. First, God has bestowed gifts upon every one of us. Second, whatever gifts or “riches” God has entrusted to us are to be cheerfully and willingly shared for the benefit of others—particularly those in greatest need.
In our day-to-day lives, we need to recognize that we all have gifts and talents to offer our peers in need. In addition to recognizing these gifts, we could (and should) share them, for example, by spending time with someone who is having problems in a relationship or volunteering in a community support organization.
What is your contribution to others? How do you share yourself and your gifts, not from your abundance but out of what you truly need?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.Tags: a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, authentic discipleship, Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, catholic RENEW program, Christ, Church, generosity, gifts and talents, giving to those in greatest need, Good News, Gospel, Gospel According to Mark, greatest need, Jesus Christ, Mark 12, Mass, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, riches from God, selfless widow, sharing talents, Sunday Gospel, treasury, Word of God
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying:
How does it serve us to venerate the memory of the saints—those formally recognized by the Church and those whose names we do not know?
St. Bernard answered that by saying that when he thought of the saints, he felt “inflamed by a tremendous yearning. … to enjoy their company” (Disc. 2, Opera Omnia Cisterc. 5, 364ff).
So, as Pope Benedict XVI has pointed out, the meaning of All Saints Day is that we do not simply honor the saints in a passive way but look at their example and apply it to ourselves. It’s an especially fitting idea as we observe this Year of Faith. We contemplate the lives of those who are “blessed” because they lived by the faith, lived in keeping with the Gospel and, in particular, the Beatitudes, the call to humility, simplicity, mercy, charity, and faithfulness. And, the pope said, their example reawakens in us “the great longing to be like them: happy to live near God, in his light, in the great family of God’s friends’’ (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily at Holy Mass on the Solemnity of All Saints, November 1, 2006).
In other words, when we pause to consider the lives of the saints, it inspires us to long for holiness in our own lives, and the path to holiness, Pope Benedict said, “always passes through the Way of the Cross.’’ St. Bernard, again coming right to the point, addressed this with his contemporaries: “The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them. Come … let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ; we must seek the world that is above and set our mind on the things of heaven.’’
This does not come as a surprise to us; Jesus told us those who want to follow him must deny themselves and take up the cross, meaning that they must imitate him and live in keeping with his Gospel day to day, at home, at school, at work, in the community. They bend their will to his, they honor and glorify him, and they live as he did by making the needs and cares of others as important as their own.
To the extent that we set out each day, each one in his or her own circumstances, to follow Jesus, Pope Benedict said, “we too can participate in his blessedness. With him, the impossible becomes possible, and even a camel can pass through the eye of a needle’’ (cf. Mt. 5:48).
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available from the RENEW International online store.Tags: All Saints Day, beatitudes, Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, catholic RENEW program, community, Gospel According to Matthew, Homily at Holy Mass on the Solemnity of All Saints, Jesus, Mass, November 1, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Scripture, Solemnity of All Saints, St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Tags: Bible, bible study, Catholic, catholic RENEW program, Cursillo, divine reading, Dominican sister, encounter Christ, encounter Jesus, faith journey, God, Gospel according to Luke, Gospel According to Mark, Gospel According to Matthew, lectio divina, missionary disciple, prayer, RENEW International, Scripture, Sister Terry Rickard, Sr. Terry, Sr. Terry Rickard, Sr. Theresa Rickard, Sr. Theresa Rickard OP, Sunday Mass, Word of God
Earlier this month we celebrated the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower. She is a wonderful role model for all of us, but in many ways she speaks to the heart of small Christian communities in this regard: It is not always necessary to do great things, but to always do small things with great love.
“On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.’ And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’ Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.’ He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man replied to him, ‘Master, I want to see.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way (Mark 10:47-52).
Bartimeaus, the blind beggar, clearly “saw” who Jesus was. He quickly cast his cloak aside when Jesus called him. This cloak, most likely spread out to collect coins, was probably all that he owned. Abandoning the cloak showed he understood that what Jesus could offer him was worth more than any material possession.
Bartimeaus also wasn’t worried about what the people around him thought. They kept telling him to be quiet, but he continued to shout out to Jesus in faith. He could not be dissuaded from proclaiming the truth of Jesus’ identity as the messiah.
And how did Bartimeaus respond to his healing? Jesus told him to “go your way,” and instead he followed Jesus.
We are called to be like Bartimeaus—to be persistent in faith and to have the courage to share our faith with others. By being aware of what blinds us from recognizing God’s presence, we can take a step toward deepening our understanding of what it means to live out our Christian faith.
We are all beggars. We are all in need of growth and healing. But we are all servants as well, and charged to “see” and reach out to others in mercy and love.
What are things that blind you from recognizing signs of God’s presence in your life? How can you be healed of that blindness?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.Tags: a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Bartimeaus, Catholic, Catholic Church, catholic RENEW program, Christ, Church, community, compassion, faith, following Jesus, God's love, God's presence, Good News, Gospel According to Mark, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Mark 10, Mass, material possessions, prayer, reach out to others in mercy and love, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Scripture, servants, share faith with others, Sunday Gospel, Word of God, your faith has saved you
“Jesus summoned the Twelve and said to them, ‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many’” (Mark 10:42-25).
Sometimes it’s easy to become so focused on a goal or so engrossed in day-to-day activities that our actions begin to take an unhealthy turn. Perhaps a little part of us feels that we’ve “worked so hard” or “given up so much” that we deserve perks, recognition, and rewards.
James and John got caught up in exactly this trap in the incident described in this week’s Gospel reading. They approached Jesus and tried to improve their privileges by asking for a greater position for themselves, for the distinction of sitting at the left and right hand of Jesus at the end of time.
Using this example of James and John, Mark continues to show us the gap between the disciples’ understanding of discipleship and the actual demands of discipleship. The brothers do not understand that Jesus’ “glory” is not what they think it is. We have the luxury of knowing the rest of the story. James and John did not realize that they were asking for death.
With discipleship and leadership come tremendous responsibility to do what is right. While this may challenge us, and sometimes even discourage us, Mark emphasizes that Jesus continuously gave this message as he journeyed with the disciples. Each time they “strayed,” Jesus was there to show them the true way.
In what situations have you wondered “What’s in it for me?”? What motivated you to think this way, and what did you learn from such situations?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.Tags: a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, catholic RENEW program, Christ, Church, community, disciples, discipleship, do what's right, Gentiles, give his life for many, Good News, Gospel, Gospel According to Mark, james, Jesus, Jesus Christ, jesus' glory, john, journey with the disciples, mark, Mark 10, Mass, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, responsibility, Scripture, Son of Man, Sunday Gospel, true discipleship, twelve, twelve disciples, wishes to be first, Word of God
I stayed up way past my bedtime Saturday night watching Lone Survivor. Then I was up for hours with a teething infant. After hearing about the shootings in Oregon on Friday and then watching this true story of a Navy Seal team, I was so grateful to be able to be up with my baby. There are so many men and women who can’t be with their kids—and some who will never be with their kids again. These heroes defend us overseas, and, in incidents such as this most recent shooting, they defend us at home too.
“As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.’ He replied and said to him, ‘Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.’ Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions” (Mark 10:17-22).
A rich man approached Jesus seeking to inherit the kingdom and spend eternity with God. However, Jesus’ answer shocked him into realizing that discipleship comes at a greater cost than he realized.
Jesus invites this man, and us, to focus less on following the rules, and more on getting rid of whatever gets in the way of our relationship with God and others. Mark shares with us a sad example of someone who can’t accept that Jesus’ mission is about a different way of life, and so walks away. Jesus wants our desire for discipleship to be a free commitment of our whole selves.
If we feel sad for the man in the story, it could be because we empathize so much with his response. It is difficult to admit that some of our possessions can compete with our call to follow Christ. Sometimes our possessions own us rather than we owning our possessions.
Jesus makes it clear that all the status and possessions in the world do not determine one’s place in the kingdom of heaven. Despite our efforts to live “good Christian lives,” we sometimes become enslaved to unessential possessions or actions—such as having the latest smartphone or a daily cup of expensive coffee.
All we hear is “buy, buy, buy” in our consumer culture. We need to create space in our hearts and lives to pay more attention to God, not to our possessions.
Which of your possessions compete with your call to follow Christ? In what way do your possessions interfere with your relationship with God and others?
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.Tags: a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Bible, Catholic, Catholic Church, catholic RENEW program, Christ, Church, come follow me, commandments, community, consumer culture, discipleship, eternal life, faith, give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, God's love, good christian lives, Good News, Gospel, Gospel According to Mark, Holy Spirit, inherit the kingdom, interfere with your relationship with God, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jesus' mission, kingdom of heaven, Mass, possessions own us, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Scripture, Sunday Gospel, Word of God
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi—a great day for all Franciscans around the world. Today is also the feast day of our pope – who has chosen to call himself Francis after this holy and simple man of God.
Campus RENEW / Theology on Tap / RENEW Worldwide