The cross is the sign of God's love and the ultimate gift of self. To carry it behind Jesus means to join him in making one self available to others, even to martyrdom. The third imperative, "follow me," does not mean "take me as a model," but share my choice, make my project yours, risk your life for the love of people, along with me. The debates about the identity of Jesus continue to this day. No one denies that he has marked the history of the world more than any other person. But not enough to cultivate this belief to be regarded as his disciples. To admire Christ is not to be his disciples.
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The verb "to listen" occurs 1159 times in the Old Testament. It often refers to God who—Isaiah assures—is not deaf (Is 59:1). But unlike people, who often close their ears to the cry of the poor who cries out for help and immediately they pay attention to as soon as they hear praises and compliments. God is attentive only to prayers, cries lament of his people. "When he cries to me I will hear him, for I am full of pity" (Ex 22:26). No text of the Old Testament says that "he hears the praises" addressed to him.
After meditating for five consecutive Sundays on Jesus' discourse on the bread of life, we resume reading the gospel of Mark that will be with us until the end of the liturgical year. In today's passage, a question that touches on a central element of the Jewish religion, "the purifications," is raised. To the ancient, the world is divided into two opposing spheres. One is pure in which the forces of life operate, and the other is impure where the seeds of death are present.
The disciple who has "tasted the beauty of the Word of God and the wonders of the supernatural world" (Heb 6:5) resists the temptation to turn away from Christ and to be "in love with this present world" (2 Tim 4:9). The Eucharist is a proposal. The one who decides to receive it says yes to the light and rejects the darkness. This is the choice that qualifies a Christian.
The believers’ reflection on the fate of Mary after death continued to grow over the centuries. It led to the belief in her assumption and, on 1 November 1950, to the papal definition: “The Immaculate Conception Mother of God ever Virgin, finished the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
esus recognizes that no one has seen the Father (v. 46) but shows how to be able to contemplate him. He ensures that one can see God through him, seeing his actions because his gestures, choices, and preferences are those of God the Father. For some, the humanity of Christ is the intermediary that leads to God; for others, it is an impediment.
Tradition places the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor, a mountain that rises, isolated, in the middle of the fertile plain of Esdraelon. Covered with holm oak, carobs, and pine trees since ancient times, it was called the holy mountain and on top, cults to the pagan gods were offered. Today the place invites meditation and prayer. There it is natural to raise our gaze to the sky and our thought to God.
The symbolism of the "five loaves" and the "two fish" will be evident to those who know the language of the Bible and remember the words of Moses: "Man lives not on bread alone, but that all that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Deut 8:3). Here is the bread of the Lord: his word, his teaching; the "five" books of the Pentateuch, the Torah, are the bread of life.
The Word of God clearly illuminates the itinerary of James (and of the other Apostles) which goes from an initial ambition for power, censured by Christ, to a form of service which leads him precisely to confront those powers to which he aspired, and which arrives at the giving of his own life as a witness to the Gospel.
Today we interrupt the reading of the Gospel according to Mark that has accompanied us since the beginning of the liturgical year. For five Sundays, we will meditate on chapter 6 of the Gospel according to John. Before commenting on today's passage, I would like to preface it with some observations that will help us to approach the text correctly because it is easy to run the risk of misinterpreting it and therefore lose the message that the evangelist wants to communicate.
"To rest for a while." The objective is rest; it is not a recommendation to take a few days of rest and then resume our work with more frenzy. No, the objective of this rest is to regain inner peace, the tranquility of mind, the serenity of heart, to find ourselves. If you are agitated by family problems or troubled by a bad love relationship, stop, look for these moments in which you are alone with Christ, with his Gospel, to know what he thinks of those problems, of your anguish.
Having nothing was not, of course, the essence of his poverty: on the contrary, the conviction that he already possessed everything – everything, that is, that mattered, was the key to his freely chosen poverty. His poverty, in other words consisted in letting go of everything that blurred or distracted from what mattered most. Francis was outwardly poor because he was inwardly rich.
The passage opens with the sending of the twelve on a mission (v. 7). Everyone is sent, no one excluded; this indicates that the proclamation of the Gospel is not a task reserved for a few members of the community. The disciple who does not feel the need to share with others the gift he has received is probably not yet convinced that, by discovering Christ, he or she has found the most precious of treasures.
Those who hold power oppose anything that subverts the balance of society or the institution; they achieve their objective when they make people understand that there is an equation between what is usually thought and the Gospel message, between the principles dictated by current morality and the values preached by Christ, between the beatitudes of the world and those of the mountain.
From today's Gospel passage, as in many other texts of the New Testament (Mt 10:2; Lk 22:32, Jn 21:15-17), it is clear that Peter is entrusted with a particular task in the church. It is he who always appears first, is called to feed the lambs and the sheep and sustains his brothers and sisters in the faith. The exercise of this ministry is to be matched all the time with the gospel so that the bishop of Rome really is for all—according to the wonderful definition of Irenaeus of Lyons (II century)—“he who presides over charity”.
Among all ancient peoples, the conviction of the existence of an afterlife prevailed and, among the Greeks, the immortality of the soul. Inexplicably, this did not happen among the Jews who, since they were born as a people in Egypt, allowed more than a thousand years to pass before they began to believe in a life beyond death. They proclaimed the Lord "God of life" (Num 27:16), but always with an earthly perspective.
The cult of the Virgin Mary began to rise and develop in Jerusalem in the V century. A century earlier, in the IV century, the cult of John the Baptist was so widespread as to be considered universal. The people paid tribute with an extraordinary veneration to this saint. He is the most represented in the art of all ages; there is no altarpiece, no group of saints in which he does not appear.
What word is a Christian entitled to who experiences personal and family dramas in chains? Epidemics, earthquakes, tornadoes that hit parts of the world already ravaged by hunger and poverty pose serious questions to the believer. Wars, violence, injustices, betrayals, it is true, must be attributed to man, but because man is so bad, could not God make him better?
The truth is another: today we are paying the consequences of an evangelization and a catechesis that—without wanting to attribute blame to the willing preachers and catechists of the past—was disconnected from the Word of God. The future is in our hands. The Church has become aware of the treasure that the Master has given her: the Word, the seed that waits to be sown in the world in abundance, so that faith may flourish again on a new basis and on a sure foundation.
For the Eucharist to be authentic, it must be celebrated by people who have made a conversion, a change, a turning of the scale of values that guides their lives. Second feature: The room is large. Not only in the material aspect. It means that the authentic Eucharist must be celebrated by a welcoming Church, which has a big heart, which is a place of communion.