February 6-7: Preparing for Sunday’s Mass

From the Holy Cross pulpit, a lot of attention has been given to the unique styles and approaches of the four Gospel writers. The Church is offering us the Gospel of St. Mark during most of this year (Sunday after Sunday). There is yet another unique characteristic of St. Mark’s text which seeks our attention this weekend: Jesus, as St. Mark records His ministry, is engaged in constant, fast-paced movement. The same is true of the crowds who are seemingly always chasing around after Him.

Already, in just 29 verses of the first chapter of the Gospel, we hear that things were so frenetic that Jesus needed to sneak away quietly from everyone, by getting up early. But even Simon and his companions tracked him down. One of the reasons He kept moving on was to escape those people who were after Him because He’d become “a celebrity.” These days, we could call that crowd “Paparazzi.” They were interested in only one thing, another miracle, one more amazing demonstration of power. We have to remember, there was no TV or internet in those days. Someone like Jesus was “the best show in town,” so to speak, and no one wanted to miss the next episode or miracle. But St. Mark will let us know, gradually, that these people following Him were failing to go deeper into what it all meant. They failed to ask the question that really matters: “What is God doing here?”

How often do we approach life as if we are pinballs, being directed from one side to the other, involuntarily moved from one event to another, or one crisis to another? How frentic do we make our lives? Do we ever take (or make) the time to ask, “What is God doing here? How is God at work in this?”

There are many important things to learn from the Jesus of St. Mark’s Gospel. They can help us make sense of our everyday living and ponder how God is intimately at work in us and among us. One of these is the deep compassion that always motivates Jesus. It is extraordinary because, in spite of His weariness, in spite of His discomfort over becoming the “rock – star” of His age, Jesus continues to love and care for (and about) those around Him, especially those in crisis or pain. The miracles Jesus works are not done to get Him more fame and greater crowds, but to awaken the people’s faith and trust in the power of God’s Word – which has come among them. Jesus’s desire is to restore in all of us God’s vision of a world which can (and must) be different, which can (and must) be better, which can (and must) unite us more and more as brothers and sisters. Make time, especially this weekend, to ask, “How is God at work in my life, in our lives, right now?” He is! Let’s not get so busy or live at such a frenetic pace that we miss Him.

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