Often we fail to see the Lord working in our lives. We can believe that all our gifts, all our blessings and talents are of our own making. But the truth is, it is always God working in and through us. Fr. Simon-Felix Michalski, O.P., reminds us to look for the Lord working in our lives and to try and see everything in a new and different way. We have to recognize like Stephen did, that God is at work and our ministry only bears fruit when rooted in Christ.
In the readings today Christ begins the Bread of Life discourse and we see the great gift that Jesus has given us both in his Body and in His Word. We too are like the crowds and are grateful for the gift. But do we understand what the gifts really mean? Do we understand what they tell us about the giver of those gifts?
We are confronted with two different portrayals of lions today. On one hand, St. Mark, whose Feast is today, is portrayed as a lion. This symbolizes courage and bravery in the face of persecutions and anxieties. We’re all meant to be brave as we proclaim the Gospel. But we also see the Devil portrayed as a lion and the Devil is certainly not noble or brave. In fact, he is weak and he preys on the weak. Listen to Deacon Chris Johnson, O.P., break down what these opposing images mean for us and our faith life.
Fr. DePorres Durham, O.P., uses the first reading to remind us of what we have heard both by Pope Francis and throughout Christianity: Jesus Christ has changed us. By our Baptism into the Body of Christ we are forever changed and we cannot go back. The Apostles in the first reading today know this. It is impossible for them to not preaching Jesus Christ, because they have encountered him in a personal way. The way they see the world has shifted forever.
In Baptism we are not only cleansed from our sins but we become adopted by the Holy Spirit in a special and intimate manner. Fr. Mark Wedig, O.P., takes us back in time to the early Church’s understanding of Baptism and then asks us to consider what it really means for our lives that we are adopted by the Spirit.
The question posed by Nicodemus is one which we all ask in one way or another. How are we to know that the Spirit is really working in the world if we cannot see it and understand it? How are we to be born again in the Spirit if we don’t know anything about the Spirit?
It’s human to prefer the familiar and the known. We hesitate before stepping into an unknown or unfamiliar situation. And yet, Fr. Michael Mascari, O.P., reminds us that it is God who is in control.
How do we hang on to joy, to the joy of the Gospel, even in the midst of our current anxieties? Christ walks beside us in the dark as our rock.
In the wake of Christ’s death, it must have been tempting for the disciples to return to the old normal, to what they were always used to after the apparent tragedy of the Crucifixion. But Jesus does not call us into the past or ask us to go backwards. Rather, Jesus asks us to embrace a new and transformational new normalcy.
In our Christian lives, and especially in these difficult times, we have to rely on the Cross of Jesus Christ. We have to make a leap of faith and trust in God’s promise and The Cross provides something for us to hang on to in the midst of our doubts and our tribulations. The Cross is hope. It is also encouragement. Each of us is asked by God to do some service, some act for God and for our neighbors. But often we fail to make the leap and we ask again and again: Who, me? Do you mean me, God?