January 11, 2017
Wednesday, Week one, Year I
Hebrews 2:14-18; Psalm 105; Mark 1: 29-39.
Jesus Feels For Us
Jesus is an expert on living. He knows human life both from the exalted viewpoint of God himself, and from the groundlevel perspective of lived human experience. But he is not just an expert.
Jesus is an expert who cares. He is ‘one of us,” not only by sharing in our common human experience, but also because he truly embraces us as his own. We are his family, his brothers and sisters. “He did not come to help angels,” the author tells us, “but the descendants of Abraham.” We are family, children of the covenant. Jesus didn’t come to help us just as “creatures,” or miscellaneous members of a race of beings his Father brought into existence. He came to be identified with us, not only through sharing a common human nature, but in mind and heart and soul. He is “sympathetic” and “compassionate,” not just in the objective sense of “suffers with,” but in the affective sense of understanding our pain, feeling concern for us, relating emotionally to our needs, wanting to help us out of love.
Every word he speaks to us is spoken with a voice of love.
This is an added reason why he had to “become like his brothers and sisters in every respect.” It was “so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God on their behalf....” He speaks and feels as one of us. “Because he himself was tested by what he suffered,” he knows how we feel. And so, “He is able to help those who are being tested.”
This is also an added reason for us to listen to his words. We know that he knows where we are coming from. And cares about it.
In the Liturgy of the Word, when the readings are read at Mass, it is appropriate to “declaim” them. They are being proclaimed to a whole assembly, in the middle of a solemn ceremony. But at times this can deprive Gospel phrases of the intimate tone the words had when Jesus spoke them. Also, just hearing them in a crowd takes some of the intimacy away. So we need to read them also in private. Before or after Mass. In the reflective silence of our hearts. When we can pause. And respond. And hear Jesus saying them to us with tones and overtones that are meant for nobody else.
The Church’s instructions on liturgy tell us:
The liturgy of the word must be celebrated in such a way as to promote meditation. For this reason, any kind of haste which impedes recollection must be clearly avoided. Brief moments of silence are appropriate during liturgy…. in which the Word of God is taken into the heart by the fostering of the Holy Spirit and response to it is prepared by prayer.”
Obviously, deep meditation can hardly be achieved within the space-time limitations of the Eucharistic celebration. So the Church is saying here that to participate “fully, consciously and actively” in Mass itself we need to take some time outside of Mass for meditation on Scripture. For Eucharist to be the “source and summit,” the “fount and apex” of our Christian life, we need to extend its boundaries.
1. How do I feel while Scripture is read at Mass?
2. How do I feel when I read Scripture alone?
3. What decision does this suggest?
4. Make it.