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January 19, 2022

Today Mark presents us with one of the few examples of Jesus expressing anger. As in other passages in the Gospels, his anger is usually directed at what he saw in the religious leaders of his day. In today’s reading, they try to catch him violating one of the Sabbath laws. Jesus puts a man with a withered hand in the center and asks the leaders, “Is it permitted on the Sabbath day to do good or to do evil; to save a life or kill?” They say nothing, and Jesus, angry at their hypocrisy, cures the man.

As a people surrounded by nations and tribes who worshipped idols of their religions, the original ten commandments were meant to give them their own sense of identity as a people. But the laws began to multiply, identifying even minutiae, and they got in the way of the central message of God being a loving and merciful Father. The prophets continued to attack the burden it placed on the people.

We ought not to be too hard on the Pharisees. Religions, including Catholicism, have a tendency to multiply laws and rules “to keep everyone safe” in a hostile surrounding. These rules and regulations seem to sometimes draw a line as to who belongs and who is an outcast. Sometimes this legalism tends to blur the image of the God revealed by Jesus. Laws and rules give rise to attitudes of exclusionism… Who is not worthy of belonging to our community? Is it members of the LGBTQ community, the divorced and remarried, undocumented immigrants, the unvaccinated, the addicted, the street people?

Among the disciples at the Last Supper, only one remained with Jesus to the end. It was evident in the ministry of Jesus that no one was excluded from the Table.

Are we exclusionary of the “unworthy?”

Let Us Pray:

Lord Jesus, you revealed to us your Father’s absolute and limitless love and mercy for all his children. Please give us an overflow of your grace to be loving, especially those we find the most offensive. Remind us that you died for us all. Amen.

 

Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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About Patrick Riley

Patrick is an Associate of the Blessed Sacrament at St Paschal Baylon Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the former Book Review Editor for Emmanuel Magazine.