The life of Jesus is active.

Whoever reads the biography of Jesus Christ, the Gospels carefully will also find in it inspiration for the open activity to which Jesus calls us. Jesus does not love idleness; on the contrary, work not only exalts a person but also enriches spiritual life.

Mark speaks of a time when Jesus wants to rest by the seashore after a hard day. The crowd, however, changes Jesus’ intention, and Jesus is the very act here too: healing, teaching… Jesus had to deal with a contentious issue around fasting, the sanctification of the Sabbath, and Mark presents him as a miracle worker to whom Jews and Gentiles alike come to be healed, at least by the touch of his clothes. Mark does not recount these events deliberately. Jesus was given the “Son of God” to signify his dignity. Jesus wants to avoid being recognized as the Messiah since the moment of his ultimate mission; the resurrection has not yet come. This fact marks the manifestation: the victory of Jesus over evil.

Jesus gives us the example that our life is to be active. The earnest work of self-improvement must be carried out with the thought, “We are useless servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” (Lk 17:10).

We must remember that some people have no confidence in action; others throw themselves into action without thought and love. Yes, Jesus did everything with love, giving value and meaning to our lives, and must come first in every step. It is easy to tear down a house; it is harder to build it. It is easier to criticize, harder to act. If we waste our time blaming, we have no time left for action. An active life is not just dreaming, it is not just planning, but all this has to be done.

Example for the disciples. Don’t just dream of being a good disciple, but do everything you can to be one. Do you put your duties as a disciple before your fun, hobbies, and television? Not only pupils, but all of us must realize that our good intentions are useless if they are not recognized, not turned into action. God has not only promised the Comforter-Holy Spirit, but He has sent Him. God not only promised a Redeemer, but He came among us to redeem us. Therefore, even if we cannot do much, let us do something. We know that a limb that is not used will die, will stunt. The man who is not active not only does not progress but declines. A machine, which is just standing and not being used, also wears out. Let us realize: we will reach perfection only when we act.

Observe the people around you. How many people are lazy, wasting their precious strength, and the result of their life is deplorable. It is not the intensity of movement that gives efficiency to action but the weight of its spirit due to effort. We see this in life also, that some people accomplish a great deal in a short time and with a few acts, with little activity. On the other hand, in a long time with several shows, with the more significant moves, accomplished very little. This means that the real difference lies in the quality of the soul of those who acts. The activity of the animal is instinctive. The action of man is deliberate and is to be lived with faith. Permeate all your efforts with confidence. Let faith be in our activities, whether thoughts, words, or deeds, and let it always come first. To live in constant communion with Jesus in all events. Whoever wants to act in this way, let him open the Gospel. Jesus will become to him an inspiration which nothing in the world can equal. A man in his school will gain great qualities and significant achievements.

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When is it permissible to do good?

In our lives, we take it for granted that our health is taken care of by doctors even on our days off. I have a toothache; I don’t have to wait until Monday; I also go on Saturday and Sunday…

To help someone on a feast day was considered objectionable by the Pharisees. The Gospel tells how Jesus healed a sick man in the synagogue on the Sabbath. But first, he sets him before himself and asks those present, “Is it free on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” (Mk 3:4). Though they were silent, he restored the sick man to health. The Pharisees immediately went out with the Herodians and took counsel to kill him. Why this attitude of the Pharisees? We already know that the apostles broke the Sabbath rest, according to the Pharisees, when they plucked ears of wheat on the way and ate the grains. This Gospel, in turn, tells us how Jesus himself violated the Sabbath rest when he heals the sick. The Pharisees set a trap for Jesus. They knew that Jesus heals the sick. It is the Sabbath, and therefore it is forbidden to practice any trade, including medical treatment. They speculated whether Jesus would keep the Sabbath or break it. The Pharisees knew of Jesus’ love for the suffering and the sick and therefore assumed that he would break the Sabbath. And that was their point. Jesus sees that they have set a trap for him, so he asks all those present. His answer was silence. This saddened Jesus. It was an expression of their hardness, and sorrow filled his heart.

Jesus is God. God has commanded that people dedicate the Sabbath rest to him, but God is not only about loving him but also about loving our neighbor. Therefore, when he heals a sick person, he teaches that he is Lord of the Sabbath and that the Sabbath is ordained for man, not the other way around. When it is a matter of love for man, He can also use the Sabbath for that.

What does this mean for us believers in practice? Even though we are obliged by the Church’s regulations to attend Mass on Sundays and the commanded feast days, nevertheless, when someone needs our love, our help, for example, in nursing, with a small child, they are not sinning. However, we are to consider this wisely. Indeed, the whole family will not stay with him, but one is enough, similarly, with employment. If one has to enter the service, he does not sin. In such cases, it is advisable to take time and give attention to one’s soul. Pray more, read something, think, etc. It is advisable to connect spiritually with the celebration of Holy Mass and thus be present, at least at a distance. But it is questionable whether it is fraternal charity when he finds time to curse only on Sundays or consistently works on Sundays on chores. He takes work shifts on Sundays and holidays because they pay more. Isn’t that a transgression against the love of God? In this case, we are not talking about love.

But we must also say this: What good would it do us if we attended three Masses and did not help the one who urgently needed our help just then…? With a bit of goodwill and a correct assessment of all the circumstances, things can be arranged to fulfill our religious and other obligations. The excuse, “I’m tired after a whole week – and yet to go to church?” doesn’t stand? What is fatigue? Those who rightly understand the Sunday encounter with Jesus not only do not find the lesson a burden but cannot even imagine their lives without it. Sunday without Holy Mass means nothing to him. A festive lunch – we can cook that on another day. Even time for a hobby, a hobby with a bit of love for God can be solved differently. Consistent failure to fulfill your obligations speaks volumes about your faith. Here it is not enough to say: “I am a believer.”

Let us recall some distractions deliberately assigned to the morning hours to lure the faithful away from the Mass. Some organizations also put their meetings on this hour, organize various events, and it’s ridiculous when they even do violence that you have to…

The Lord Jesus did not desecrate the feast day by helping the sick. If circumstances require it, in exceptional cases, we may miss Mass for the love of our neighbor. This must not become a general rule. A daughter comes to visit, and the mother no longer goes to Mass because she has to cook! Even so, how many can arrange things to their satisfaction and understand this rightly. Goodwill. We want goodwill from others, and when God wants it from us, we are deaf. Let us remain practicing Christians.

 

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Miracles and natural laws.

After the “paradoxes” with time, we now move on to the equally exciting mysteries related to phenomena commonly referred to as miracles. What are miracles, anyway? We generally define them as phenomena in which that seem to break the laws that we’re used to in
we’re used to in ordinary life. It appears as if God has violated the validity of the rules that He has established. As the Almighty God, it certainly can do it, but the question is whether he does. Nobel Laureate physics laureate Newill Mott wrote an exciting article, Faith Without Miracles,56), in which he attempts to view miracles not as a violation of the fundamental laws of nature but as strange processes that man cannot bring about, but which do not constitute an abrogation of the validity of basic rules.

Let us note, for example, miraculous healing. Theoretically, these are
the sudden restoration of the normal functioning of organs (the blind can see, the lame walk) from the stimulus of a “word” or some other mental activity. It is a miracle in that it transcends the ordinary practical training of man. Still, the process itself cannot be described as “bare impossibility” as the opponents of miracles try to interpret it
because analogous “miraculous” processes that occur in our lives permanently take place in our life. Every concrete mechanical act of man, such as picking up an object, begins in the spiritual sphere by the intention to do this or that. This immaterial intention is (still mysteriously to us) transformed into material nervous excitations (currents), which induce concrete mechanical movement of the muscles concerned, at the end of which the lifting above the object.

It is interesting that these “miracles.” we take for granted, while similar processes in the context of miraculous healing, for example, take place at the will of God; one dismisses it as a bare impossibility because it is said to be contrary to the laws of nature. From such a point of view, we are suddenly presented in a different light with the
event of conception, often denigrated and ridiculed by unbelievers, from Holy Spirit”. The fact that “the Word became flesh” here, to the unbelievers as a bare impossibility. Still, the fact that in their every physical act also, “the Word becomes a material process,” this is for them a daily commonplace, which is not worthy of being dwelt upon. Moreover, here one can it may be recalled that in recent years it has been experimentally confirmed the possibility of “growing” an individual from a cell of only one representative? of a particular animal species (the well-known case of the Scottish sheep), which still further facilitates the acceptance of the mystery mentioned above, which of course must be to be understood as an act of God, but not as a feat which, from a human point of view nature of absolute impossibility.

In the above view of the mechanism of miraculous healing, one must be careful not to make it sound like an endorsement of various alternative healing methods, in which the crucial role of the psyche and the verbal action of the healer. It cannot be ruled out that this approach may be successful in some instances, but these are only isolated and random cases. Can such activity be professionalized and generalized to an arbitrarily broad spectrum of diseases, in no case?
Of the above category of miracles, which consist of miraculous healing, the benefits that stand out are those that almost certainly appear to be violations of natural laws. We have in mind, for example, the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes, which we learn about in the New Testament message. In this miracle, it was generating food from nothing. An advantage of this kind – only in infinitely more spectacular “design” – happened at the very beginning
of our world, when God created the world out of nothing. These are undoubtedly great miracles, but it is by no means self-evident that they occurred in violation of the most fundamental laws of our universe, namely the law of conservation of matter and energy. At present – as we have already pointed out – even materialistically minded physicists have nothing to object to the claim that the universe could have come from nothing.

There is a generally as yet unconfirmed hypothesis that the universe is
governed by so-called “zero right-hand sides” conservation laws. Such is, for example, the law of conservation of momentum of an isolated system or the law of conservation of electric charge. If the total hy of a remote system is zero initially, then it always remains so, no matter what happens inside it. Therefore, the escape of gases from it in one direction is offset by the motion of the whole system, for example, a rocket, in the opposite direction. A remote observer would be surprised that out of nowhere, without outside interference. Movement. Also, if it were true that the sum of the total mass in the universe equals zero, which of course assumes that there is present in the universe “positive” and “negative” matter, then there would be nothing to prevent the at some point to generate from “nothing” any amount of positive and negative value at the same time. There are some reasons to suppose so. As far as energy is concerned, there would be no assumption that the existence of positive and negative energy in the universe could be plausible – positive energy is represented by matter, negative energy by the gravitational field.

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What is more? What is essential?

A person endowed with reason and free will must often make choices and solve the complex questions of life. He must frequently decide on the spot and without consultation, and therefore it is essential to know the scale of values of life. He must say to himself: this is paramount, I will do afterward, and that will be next. He must know what is most useful at the moment for the salvation of his soul.

Many saints in their lives have helped themselves by asking: What will it profit me for eternity? Then only began with the most essential, though in similar situations, the basic was what they now put on the second step.

The Pharisees also addressed Jesus, “See, why do they do what is not lawful?” (Mk. 2:24). What was the point? On the Sabbath, the disciples were plucking ears of grain and eating them on their way through the field. Do you wonder why such a strange remark? And why such a given explanation of the Lord Jesus? The Jews received the Law from Moses, in which the Lord says: “You shall keep the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath (that is, rest) to the Lord thy God: then shalt thou do no work, thou, nor thy son… Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt and that the Lord thy God brought thee out from thence with a mighty right hand… therefore the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.” (Deut. 5:12-15).

It was a revolutionary act when Moses instituted the keeping of the Sabbath. Social gain, rest. In a slave society, only work reigned without rest. But God did not establish the Sabbath just for rest, but to use it for His celebration. That he might have time to think on his soul, to occupy himself with other things than the daily struggle, to realize that he belongs to God, it was to serve for self-enlightenment. In time, however, this Law of Moses came to be misunderstood, especially by the poor interpretation of the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law. Nonsensical regulations, prohibitions, permissions… For example, they were not allowed to prepare food on the Sabbath, and today we see from the Gospel that even to tear off a piece of wheat and eat the soft grains was considered to work and therefore a violation of the Law. It was not lawful to walk a thousand paces from one’s home on the Sabbath, to build a fire on that day. And so, God’s law became a scourge, which was not God’s original intention. It became a burden to the people. It made God into a tyrant who seemed to delight in tormenting people with a thousand petty prohibitions.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus explains what the Sabbath is all about: “The Sabbath was instituted for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mk 2:27). Jesus points to the original meaning of the dedication of the Sabbath. He wants man to devote himself to the love of God and neighbor. From the beginning, Christians understood the teaching of Christ and began to celebrate Sunday, the day of the Resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, as a feast day. The essence of Sunday is to rest from work, glorify God by attending Holy Mass, spend the day in the circle of loved ones, and show love when the week’s obligations often prevent it.

Many chores cannot be postponed or interrupted, so some work exceptionally on Sundays. These are works that are also justified in God’s sight. But when a man does not consciously and voluntarily consecrate Sunday, he transgresses the command of God. Yes, leisure time should be used for rest. However, let us be careful to attend Mass on Sunday, even on vacation, while in an unfamiliar place. There, too, we are to witness that we believe Christians. It is not a sin if one is in hospital and does not have the opportunity. For the law binds only when one can fulfill it. This is not to be compared to those who voluntarily sleep in after a party they have been to in the morning and do not go to Mass. With them, it is a sin. …He goes for a walk in the range, goes fishing, and goes for sport. In cases of necessity, we can use the Saturday evening Mass for Sunday.

Let us, therefore, give to God what is God’s and to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Whenever we have to decide in serious matters what is paramount, what I must do first, let us adhere to the well-established motto of the saints, What shall it profit me for the salvation of my soul? 

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Let’s learn to understand correctly.

Many things and ways of life have become so familiar to us that when they are disturbed, it hurts a person. Therefore, before we judge, condemn, or reject something, it behooves us to reflect a little and see the matter from all sides. Then we will take the correct standpoint on the problem.

Mark describes a similar situation in the life of Jesus. Jesus is addressed by the disciples of John and the Pharisees, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, and your disciples do not fast?” (Mk 2:18).

Let us recall a little more of the life of Jesus to understand the answer that the Lord Jesus gave them. The teachings of Jesus do not put up with the old practices of Jewish ways and fasts, as one does not put up with a patch of new cloth on old clothes or new wine in old vessels. Jesus brought a change in the mindset of the people. Where sadness reigned, Jesus brought joy. Where there was hatred, he got love.

Likewise with fasting. The covenant God made with the nation of Israel was envisioned as a spiritual wedding. Jesus likens his new covenant to a marriage. He calls himself the bridegroom in the Gospel and declares his disciples to be companions. Fasting was an expression of mourning. But Jesus says that while he is among his disciples, it is a time of joy for them. When the time comes that Jesus will be taken away from them, it will be a time of sorrow for them.

The new patch and the new wine represent the Gospel, the Good News. The old vessels, the old garments, signify the older expressions of Israel’s religiosity. Jesus brings new ways of religiosity because the old ways are no longer enough. Even today, in looking at Lent, we give an even more unique view, but that is already wrong for the believer.

Look, fasting is ridiculous to the young today; they consider it outdated. The Church has corrected the question of fasting. The circumstances of the times have changed. To not expose the believer to sin immediately, she allows the ingestion of flesh food. Still, she asks for expiation – the tithing of the Rosary, the attendance of Holy Mass on Fridays, the reading from the Holy Scriptures, and so on. Many, however, remember only the first part of this, that meat may be eaten, but they do not reflect the invention.

A proper understanding of Lent is fundamental even today. This does not mean that we should only fast when our stomach is upset, when our doctor prescribes it, or when we see that we are putting on weight and want to maintain our figure. Then we torture ourselves with hunger strikes, fasts, and the like.

The view of fasting must be clear to us believers. It reminded us of the event of Friday when our salvation was born. The death of Christ on the cross is such an excellent event for us that we are to remember it not only on Good Friday by fasting without meat or on the first Friday of the month but every Friday of the week. Giving up meat, coffee, cigarettes, and other treats can only enrich us, make us live the word Lent more fully, and in so doing, it will be something new, beneficial, and attractive to us.

We can also look at Lent in this way: The Jews knew the great moral importance of self-control, of self-control, that without it, there is no spiritual growth of the personality. Therefore, the exercise of self-control and self-control included fasting. Even the Lord Jesus knew this. He prepares His disciples as well for more exceptional crosses than fasting. He prepares them for suffering, persecutions, and even martyrdom. And this degree of heroism and moral high ground cannot be reached without daily self-denial. We know that people who can patiently endure the crosses, hardships, and sicknesses of their lives are more than able to renounce the flesh, to fast. Knowing how to control oneself, control oneself, and conquer oneself is, after all, a real victory.

Anyone who has read the book Following Christ by Thomas Kempczinski will have encountered this theme as well: To the extent that you make progress, to the time that you do violence to yourself, to the extent that you can control yourself, deny yourself, control yourself…

We have, then, new stimuli to life for further enrichment and acquisition of merit. Let us not let the teachings of Jesus grow stale. Let us think, let us reflect, and indeed we will find what nothing can make up for.

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Sin and forgiveness.

Hindered them from not acknowledging that they could not accept Christ as a hindrance.

How about us? We find time for Christ, but is that time used? We need to realize that it is not enough to fulfill our religious duties outwardly, but not offend, do wrong, and gossip. Just as the Pharisees wanted to avoid seeing their mistakes, often, we will not admit our mistakes. God forbid if someone mentions it to me! Immediately, I beat around the bush with my head. This convinces us that even today, the Pharisees have their followers. Let us not look around to see who among us can be so..? If we acted like this, we are not far off, and we are them. Do we not often take offense at another and put our actions in a better light? We can find an excuse for everything. We see only sin in our neighbor and ourselves on the altar… The response to the preaching of the Pharisees goes something like this: “So-and-so should have heard this … It was said to him, but not to me.” And then follows the enumeration of his qualities, admittedly, only the good ones.

In the Gospel, Jesus said: “It is not healthy who need a physician, but the sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mk 2:17). We know that the one who considers himself sinless does not see his faults and needs Christ. On the contrary, the one who feels his imperfections, weaknesses, and sins require Jesus and His forgiveness. Surprisingly, the greatest sinners have said of themselves that they are. What does that mean? They were looking up to their ideal and not to those who were worse. The Pharisee will say to himself with satisfaction that there are worse than him. The saint – sees his Jesus, and the procedure is reversed. Since they look upward, they see only those better than themselves there. Therefore, they consider themselves inferior, and at the same time, they abandon their weaknesses and follow them.

We see this in Matthew as well. Jesus calls him. He left the toll booth, looking up to Christ. He saw perfection in him and himself, in himself – sin. This compelled him to leave sin again and again. I always rejoice when I see a new face among us. But I often have to encourage them to be strong when they read in the eyes and the behavior of others the questions: what is that one doing here? What is he looking for here? Ah, has he recovered? On the contrary, we are to rejoice, to be glad when Jesus also stops by our brothers and sisters sitting in the toll booth. May He reach them! For Jesus is God! Let us rejoice when they leave their toll booths and come among us.

 

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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time John 2,1-11

Our Lady then said to the attendants: “Do whatever she tells you” (Jn 2:5).

Our Lady was the first to know the principles of God’s action in human life. Lest the behavior of the servants at the wedding is like that of the man in the fairy tale, she gives advice: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). They will thus fulfill his command to the best of their ability. “Fill the vessels with water.” And fill them to the brim. Then he said to them: “Now draw and take it to the elder.” And they brought it to the elder.” (Jn. 2:7-8). Jesus also told us these words: “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Mt. 19:17)! He told us to love even our enemies, not to fear for our lives, our material security (cf. Mt. 6:25), and He explained the same “Beatitudes” – the social law of the Church (cf. Mt. 5:3-11). Let us call Jesus’ words living water.
The Gospel of St. John is profoundly theological and contains many metaphors and symbols. Jesus uses them to point clearly to truth and life. We see this in the events at Cana of Galilee. The wine in the prophets has the character of a symbol. It was a symbol of both wealth and joy. The abundance of wine at Cana also symbolizes a lot of Messianic goods. John, present at the wedding, writes: “These things Jesus did in Cana of Galilee as the first of the signs and manifestations of his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (Jn. 2:11). We can say that here Jesus began his activity as the Messiah. All the Messianic good of Christ to men began to abound. All the healing and the Lord Jesus’ miracles were a sign, a veil of His great spiritual reality. The wedding at Cana is a picture of the eschatological marriage in eternity, where we know in full the goodness and wisdom of God. The wedding began at the moment of the proclamation of the good news but will reach its “apogee” in the Kingdom of God, of which the Church is the beginning. Speaking of eternal life, the new eschatological wedding, the prophets often point out that there will be plenty of wine. By the image of “wine,” they point to the truth that the redeemed will lack nothing; they will have everything in abundance. The Evangelist John points to this truth with the event of Cana of Galilee, where Jesus’ ministry began.
The Lord Jesus, according to St. John, is the creator of the “new wine” that will be drunk at the eternal banquet in the Kingdom. This “new wine” poured into the old wineskins (cf. Mk 2:22) is the new union that culminates in Christ. Hence, actually and literally, the “new wine” is Jesus himself as our food and refreshment. We often think superficially about the event of Cana, wondering how much wine was drunk there, how much wine the Lord Jesus actually made from the water, and so on. These are unimportant things. We need to be aware of the extraordinarily profound Old Testament, the religious symbol of the wine at the beginning of the Lord Jesus’ public ministry. Cana shows us that Christ, the “New Wine,” becomes our ultimate and limitless purpose for life here on earth and in eternity. It is fitting that we can quench our thirst today with the wine that becomes the blood poured out for us through Christ.

Today, we can realize that it is irrelevant to think about alcoholism because one may claim in defense of alcoholism that Jesus also encouraged drinking wine and alcohol. Because sin is drunkenness, gluttony, and our other weaknesses or imperfections. Jesus, through the words of the Virgin Mary, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5), tells us much more, and this applies to all of us: change of life. And even change may concern not only sin but also the neglect of good. How many times do we not realize that we are neglecting the good? We could do even more interest, and consequently, we would receive even more graces and blessings from God, but we cannot because we are unable to respond to them, to cooperate with them precisely because of the neglect of the good. St. Anthony, the abbot whose feast we celebrate these days, understood this.
As a young man, he heard in a Sunday sermon, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Mt 19:21). He still has a younger sister to care for. He provides for her education, material security, gives away her possessions, and follows the poor Christ. As a hermit, he becomes a blessing to many who come to him for help, advice, prayer, blessing. He died at an old age, known as a teacher of asceticism. He did not drink wine, he led a life of renunciation, and according to the teachings of Cana, even then, he drank of the “new wine – Jesus Christ,” even then many could be convinced of the truth of the teachings of Jesus Christ by the life of St. Anthony the Abbot.
This does not mean that today we should all follow St. Anthony’s example verbatim. It is also necessary to live in a family, marriage, single state, live a social life, engage in culture, sports, and enjoy the good things for the soul and body… Everything is permitted that is not sinning. Sin is an insult to God. The event of Cana should become a memento for us that, first, we should do everything that Jesus tells us through the voice of conscience, through the Church, through the leaders, through the parents…

Lack of wine can also be understood as: lack of peace, health, love, joy, and this is not the fault of Christ. We are not to look for words to reproach Christ with but to look for the actual cause of what we have done to ourselves. God offers us His grace. He calls us to cooperate. We have the opportunity to turn things around. Let us remember that Jesus took the apostles aside to Mount Tabor, where He was transfigured…
Why do I procrastinate, for example, with the opportunity to participate in Spiritual Exercises? Jesus changed bread into his flesh and wine into his blood… Why do I not often receive Christ in the Eucharist with true piety, preparation, and a pure heart? Jesus raised the dead Lazarus. Jesus wants to change even my mortal soul life. Jesus wants my eternal life. He converted the persecutor Saul. God wants to make me His witness, a spreader of light, peace, love, to be salt, leaven, light, a net for my surroundings. Jesus wants us to be happy already here on earth and one day in His Kingdom. He wants us to adopt his command: “Go, therefore, teach all nations…” (Mt. 28:19). At the wedding in Cana, the disciples understood and accepted this as their own. “His disciples believed in him” (Jn 2:11). What about us?

Indeed, we want to avoid ending up like a modern man who went astray in the wilderness. The sun’s scorching heat plagued him mercilessly. Then he saw an oasis nearby. “Ah,” he said to himself, “a Fata Morgana, a mirroring of the air! There is nothing there at all.” But the oasis did not disappear even as he continued his journey. He could see the date palms more and more clearly, and the water was glistening beside them. “This can only be a hunger fantasy conjured up by my parched brain,” he thought. When he had taken a few steps, he stopped and exclaimed: “Now I can even hear the gurgling of the water. This is surely an auditory hallucination! Oh, how can nature be so cruel!” Soon, two Bedouins found him lying dead on the sand. “This man died of hunger and thirst,” said one of them, “and yet juicy date trees are growing opposite and spring water running by them. Can you understand that?” Here the other replied, “That was a modern man.”
What is the meaning of this legend? Modern man is very critical. Sometimes he is downright afraid that he might be wrong, especially religious matters. And some will be persuaded that the Gospel message results from the hallucinations of Jesus’ disciples. Despite their hunger and thirst for the Word of God, they would rather die of spiritual hunger and thirst. Why don’t they go and see if the dates and water are accurate; why don’t they have the courage to accept the faith so that they can be convinced of its reliability? Faith leads one to spiritual experiences that make one happy and convince one of the rightness of one’s path.
Today’s Sunday with the Gospel of the wedding in Cana of Galilee cries out with the words of the Psalm, “Try and see how good the Lord is, happy is the man who takes refuge in him” (Ps. 34:9). And we realize that this is a strong enough argument for any of us.

None of us now desire a glass of wine from the wedding at Cana; that would be very little. We want to realize the words of Christ in the Gospel so that we take away not one golden grain of wheat today but the treasure of faith that is our hope.

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The health of mind and body.

A lot has been written and said around the world about health. We all know that being sick is not a pleasant thing. But what is our relationship to taking care of the health of the body and the health of the soul? When we are sick physically, we seek a doctor as soon as possible and want to be healthy. But when our soul is suffering when we find ourselves in a state of sin, we procrastinate; we have no desire to be healed. This is the situation. If one of our loved ones falls ill, his illness upsets the whole family, friends, neighborhood. They seek hospital acquaintances, foreign medicines… When we know someone is mentally sick, we are oblivious, indifferent, even rejoice in his illness. Isn’t that a deplorable state?

This is precisely what Mark points out to us in the Gospel. Jesus first says to the sick man, “Your sins are forgiven you,” and then, “Get up, take up your bed, and go!” (Mk 2:9).

If we had been there at the time for this event, when the roof was opened, and the sick man was lowered down before Jesus on a stretcher, since he could not get before Jesus in any other way because of the large crowd, we would have probably also marveled at Jesus’ procedure in healing the sick man. We would have expected Jesus to respond to this confidence of both the porters and the sick man by saying, be well, get up and walk, or something like that… But we hear, “Your sins are forgiven!” (Mk 2:9). Why this action of the Lord Jesus? First of all, because Jesus wants to point out that sin is a greater evil than sickness, the health of the soul is more precious than the health of the body. By healing the bodies of the sick, Jesus shows how much He values the soul’s health. In doing so, he also explains the false notion that sickness is a punishment for sin.

We know that many spiritually healed people continue to suffer physically. By healing both body and soul, Jesus wants to show that the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins. Some think that forgiving sins is more accessible than healing the body. However, this is a mistake. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul?” (Mk 8:36). Often from the mouth of an unbeliever, we could hear that the behavior of a Christian struck him. He supposedly believes in God, yet he does not seek forgiveness for his sins.

I was once called to a dying man who had been sick for a long time and knew he was in the wrong way. But even though I went immediately, I found him already dead. And then I learned that he hadn’t been to confession in many years and wasn’t even interested in it. They called me to say that a priest gave him a church burial. No sacrament can help the dead, for there is no sacrament. The dead can no longer receive any sacrament.

The faithful are dying daily, and we may ask: Are they ready to die? Let us be concerned that our dear ones and we be prepared, that God forgives us our sins, that we go to the other world reconciled to God. It is a terrible, horrible thing when relatives worry about everything but the main thing – that the dying person puts their soul in order.

For all of us, the first and foremost condition of salvation is that we hear these words: “Son, daughter, thy sins are forgiven thee.” Let us see to it that we stand before the judgment seat of God clean, cleansed from sins, washed in the blood of Christ, and adorned with sanctifying grace, that is, adopted again as children of God. Then we need not fear the justice of God, for, by the forgiveness of sins, we have received the mercy of God. In this way, we can stand boldly before a kind and merciful Father. Let us pray for our happy hour of death that we may always be ready. Let us also pray for our brothers and sisters who are delaying reconciliation.

 

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God’s call.

God’s call and address to man can be understood in two ways. God can address man directly from without and from within, as we know with Abraham, Moses, and the prophets. But he can also speak to man indirectly through the created world. Through the created reality that surrounds man. Everything bears witness to its origin and thus to God. It is as if every tree, every flower speaks to man. Where did I come from? Who formed me in this way? Who has arranged the matter within me into shapes, colors, and activities that we have not even had time to examine in our laboratories. Thoughtful people have always heard these unspoken but real questions the world has asked them about God. St. Paul speaks of all men. It is pretty apparent to them what they ought to know about God. His invisible being can be learned from created things. Romans 1:19. The very existence of things awakens in man’s consciousness a sense of being and of beings that do not depend on me, but I rely on them. Bread does not depend on me, but I depend on bread; the grain of wheat was before I began to exist. Even though I don’t always have everything on my mind, whenever I look at an ear of grain, a vine, and a flying eagle, it is always clear that these are miracles around me—these results from a thoughtful and deliberate creation that transcends matter and a man. Until now, none of us has created a single living flower, a single living apple, or a single living cell. All this exists around me and in millions. I am not at all surprised that any of these wonders can move a poet, a painter, or a musician to tears because through the visible things, something invisible and mysterious is revealed to us. But not only a flower, a tree, a bird in flight awakens in our questions about God, not only the miraculous course of nature but also the life of people, the development of nations, and their astonishing creations reminiscent of God. Where would man, and where would countries, with their cultures and civilizations, books, sculptures, and paintings, with their thought and love, come from if it were not for God? Paul the Apostle in Lystra said. We preach the gospel so that you may turn to the living God who created the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. And to the Greeks at the Aerospace, he said, God created the world and all that is in it. God is not far from any of us. For in him, we live and move and have our being. If we wanted to sum up the relationship between the world and God in one word, we would say that the world is a sign of God. A character is a thing whose meaning is in another thing. A symbol is a fact that could not be explained if it did not involve and express another point. Without this second fact, we would not see and understand the first fact in its fullness, nor would we exhaust its meaning and significance. When we hear a cry for help in the wilderness, we are not satisfied with hearing the sound, but we recognize the importance of the word in the sound. We know that someone is in danger and needs our help. Man would be guilty of a crime against his mission if, in looking at things, he stopped at their physical appearance and did not look for their meaning and witness that they point to God; through the world, we know God.

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Jesus’ example

In his book On Modern Inventions, Martin Buber writes: A rabbi once said to his audience: “There is nothing in this world that we cannot learn from.” The listener reacted skeptically and wanted to test his teacher, so he asked him: “And what can I learn from the railroad?” “That a man can miss a lot if he misses the right moment!” But the listener was still not satisfied: “And what from the telegraph, for instance?” “That every word is counted and accounted for.” The listener made one last attempt, “And what can be learned from the telephone?” “That one hears there what is said here,” said the rabbi.

We are listeners of Jesus Christ. What can we learn from our Master? Mark writes: “Early in the morning, right at dawn, he got up and went out. And he went out into the morning, and went up early, and went out into the morning, and went to the deserted place, and there he prayed.” (Mk 1:35). The Lord Jesus must have helped many people. We can sense this from the words of the Gospel, though it is not in the state as described by Mark, who contented himself with a mere remark: “And he healed many that were troubled with divers diseases, and cast out many evil spirits…” (Mk 1:34).

We know that the Lord Jesus did not desire or seek recognition from men. On the contrary, he often strictly forbade the healed not to tell anyone about it. He was only interested in the person who needed His help. Jesus, however, cares not only for the body but also for the soul of man. We see that He longs to get into the human soul through the healed body. We know that there are those among us “believers” who will say of themselves, “I am not a bad person. I don’t get angry with anybody; I don’t talk badly, I don’t steal…, so why should I pray, go to Mass, or go to confession?”

Let’s look again at the actions of Jesus. He did good works, healed, raised the dead… He was God, and we read further that He also took the time to glorify His Father, with whom He is equal. He didn’t need it, yet He gives us an example by doing so. Finding time even to glorify God, pray regularly, attend Mass, or approach the sacraments. We want to imitate the life of Christ in all things. So, we are not only to find time to help our neighbor, serve him, and visit him but let us not forget spiritual help. Let us help the sick body, but let us not forget to relieve the suffering soul. Helping the ill body is often rewarded with words of appreciation and other praises, but often hidden prayer is not rewarded by the neighbor. Nor do we long for a reward for spiritual help; on the contrary, let us rejoice that no one knows about it but our Father, and He will reward our efforts. We believe in just reward and punishment, so let us not be tempted by the reward here on earth, which is very small and weak.

We see Jesus leaving Capernaum for the surrounding towns to continue there. He doesn’t want glorification from people; He does everything for the higher things. He finds time for others. Let us help them materially, but let us not forget the spiritual, especially prayer, even if others do not appreciate it, if they consider it a waste of time, or do not believe in it at all. Let us encourage ourselves at this Mass so that we may not lose the joy of this activity, of which Jesus Himself gave us the example.

The Rabbi, with his words, did not only encourage and explain to his audience that in all things, a believer can be encouraged in his faith, but he indeed addressed us as well.

 

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