February 18 – People of the Covenant

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February 18 – People of the Covenant

If there is one word that stands out in today’s readings, it is “covenant.” God’s faithfulness and goodness serve as examples to us of how to live. Genesis tells the story of Noah and of God’s covenant not only with all people, but with all of nature. Never will the cleansing waters of the flood bring their destructive power to all the earth again. The sign, the reminder to both God and nature, is the rainbow in the heavens. The psalm reminds us of this compassion of God, and begs God to remember us, not because of our goodness, but because of God’s goodness and fidelity to the promise. God shows us how to be good, not by decree, but by example.

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February 11 – Give God the Glory

A curious feature of the first half of Mark’s Gospel is the pattern of Jesus working a miracle, then telling the recipient of the miracle to keep still about it. Many theories have been offered: Mark is setting the stage for the great “secret” revealed when Peter will proclaim Jesus the Messiah at Caesarea Philippi; more skeptical commentators offer that Jesus, fully aware of human nature, knew that the way to spread the news was to tell people to keep it secret. The insight into this secret-keeping that serves us well, however, is that Jesus was initiating his public ministry according to the pattern that Paul describes. He was doing it for the glory of God—not for his own benefit, but for that of all. Paul would later write in Philippians that Jesus “humbled” himself to become like us. And we see this humility at work in today’s healing of the leper. Jesus is trying to reveal the presence of God’s reign among the people, not so that he himself might receive the glory, but so that God would be glorified through him. Imitating this pattern, which Paul encourages the Jewish and Greek Christian factions in Corinth to do, still serves us well today.

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February 4 – Tireless Discipleship

The stories we’ve been hearing these weeks come from the very first chapter of Mark, and they show us the public ministry of Jesus in its infancy. Today’s account shows some of the strain or adjustment of his new life of preaching the reign of God, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Notice that after sunset, when darkness ended the workday, people brought the sick and possessed to Jesus. The following day he rose before dawn to get away by himself to pray, but to no avail. Simon Peter and the others don’t just look for him, they pursue him, filled with the fervor that his ministry has incited. With the self-sacrificing example he gave until the end of his earthly life, he tells his followers that this is his whole purpose. Through Mark, he is also telling the early church, and he is telling us, that this is our purpose, our vocation: to be tireless in our pursuit of proclaiming the Good News, and in bringing the healing, reconciling touch of Christ to the world.

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