Who is in love is always “beside himself with joy.” He comes out of himself, forgets himself because to encounter the other proves to be an irresistible impulse. Even the mystical experience of ecstasy, from the Greek word existánai means “to be beside oneself” and caught up in God. “It’s not that we love God but that God first loved us, so we, too, must love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us and his love comes to perfection in us.” (1 Jn 4:9-12).
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In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is always on the move and his disciples walking behind him. From the very start, they were aware of following an extraordinary character. They always paid much attention to what people said about him. Yet, even after months of communion of life with the Master, they failed to grasp his true identity.
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.
Jesus puts himself in the spiritual line of the prophets and pious masters of his time. He focuses on the renewal of life and takes a strict position against the religion reduced to mere compliance to a legal code. He says that God is not interested in external purity, formalisms, and solemn liturgies of the temple appearances.
The Eucharist is a proposal. Who decides to receive it says yes to the light and rejects the darkness. This is the choice which qualifies the Christian. “When all the reasons were on one side and Christ on the other, I would choose Christ.”
The early Christians had only one Eucharistic celebration per week. Today we can attend mass every day. If repeated with faith, this sacrament which means union with the Lord of life makes this union more solid and deeper.
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.” What does this dogma mean?
Unfortunately, today, as then, many simply recognize Jesus as the wise man who has shown the paths of justice and peace, one of the many prophets, perhaps the greatest of the prophets. While esteeming, they consider him a mere man “Joseph’s son” and do not realize or refuse to accept that he is “the Only Begotten” of the Father (Jn 1:14).
Bread maintains, but does not ensure biological life forever; it is destined to be extinguished, and the legendary plant of immortality is a chimera, an illusion. But God has a bread that communicates eternal life and has given it to the world because he wants everyone to have life and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10).
It is enough that people put aside their selfishness, overcoming the greed to possess, “which is the root of every evil” (1 Tim 6:10), they welcome the logic of the Kingdom and make available to the brothers, without reservation, all that they have and the miracle happens: all are fed and had leftovers.
In the church, who leads cannot but reproduce the pattern of the Master. Peter, reproved by Jesus several times for his eagerness to stand out, recommended to the priests of his community: “Shepherd the flock which God has entrusted to you, guarding it not out of obligation but willingly for God’s sake; not as one looking for a reward but with a generous heart; do not lord it over those in your care rather be an example to your flock” (1 Pet 5:1-2).
It is commendable that, where no one acts, the church performs a substitute work in areas where she is not specifically competent, but refuses to be identified with the humanitarian institutions. She keeps vigilance to avoid being innocently involved in spectacular and lucrative initiatives, so as not to compete with civilian structures that, through the commitment of lay Christians, is instead called to animate. She possesses a divine word and it is on this word that she relies, resisting the temptation to resort to means that people consider more effective.
Jesus comes again to those who believe they know him and of belonging to his family and advances his proposal. He asked, as God did to Abraham, to leave everything that the home, the family and the country represent. He invites them to reconsider the religious convictions, assimilated during childhood and ever more deepened and made to evolve.
The slowness of Israel in reaching an explicit affirmation of eternal life is precious and enlightening. It makes us understand that, before believing in the resurrection and a future world, it is necessary to value and passionately love life in this world as God appreciates and loves it.
Jesus’ praise of him: “When you went out to the desert, what did you expect to see? A reed swept by the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? People who wear fine clothes live in palaces. What did you really go out to see? A prophet? Yes, indeed, and even more than a prophet. I tell you this: no one greater than John the Baptist has come forward from among the sons of women” (Mt 11:7-11).
The passage ends with a comment by the evangelist: “he explained everything privately to his disciples” (v. 34). Reflection, silence and prayer are needed; one needs to devote time to dialogue with Christ. It is necessary to create a spiritual atmosphere to receive from the Spirit the needed light to assimilate and translate the message of this parable into choices of life.
Exorcism. Since ancient times, the belief that evil was caused by malignant spirits led people to guard against their evil influences by resorting to magical practices, formulas, and the recitation of prayers, performing ritual acts such as destruction of statues, aspersion, spraying; everything to force the demons to leave. “I’m not alone in the fight against evil, Christ and the community of brothers are with me.”
We do not have exclusive right to faith in God. However, the assertion that, in the one God, there is a paternity, filiation and a gift of love is specific to Christianity. With an abstract term, not biblical and certainly inadequate, we call this mystery Trinity.
“Jesus gives His Spirit to the disciples and confers them the power to forgive sins” (vv. 21-23). The disciples are sent to fulfill a mission: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he was in the world, Jesus made the face and the love of the Father present (Jn 12:45). Now, having left this world, he continues his work through the disciples to whom he confers his Spirit.
This completely new perspective could be the way to consider the years of life. We all know, and maybe we smile, of octogenarians who envy those who have fewer years than them. Well, they turn their gaze to the past, not to the future. The certainty of the Ascension reverses this perspective. While the years pass, the Christian is satisfied because he sees the days of a definitive encounter with Christ coming soon. He is happy to have lived, does not envy the young ones and looks at them with tenderness.