Daily Reflection
January 12th, 2006

John Schlegel, S.J.

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1 Samuel 4:1-11
Psalm 44:10-11, 14-15, 25-26
Mark 1:40-45

The Christmas season ends with the Feast of the Epiphany. We now begin what is called Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time will soon move into Lent and the Easter season, only to resume after Pentecost. Such is the flow of the church’s liturgical calendar. But in reality these days, in the after glow of Christmas, are anything but ordinary; they may be routine, but they are not ordinary. Because amidst the events and circumstances of your life, the Gospel remains “the good news” and this is an extraordinary thing to reflect upon in this ordinary time. For the world remains “charged with the grandeur (and presence) of God,” the mercy of God remains active, and God is constant in faithfulness and forgiveness. God remains a keeper of promises and a maker of dreams!

The power and presence of God and of God in the person of Jesus is richly evident in today’s scripture passages. When the arc of the covenant is brought into the Hebrew camp, the presence of God accompanied it; God was among the people. When the leper approached Jesus for healing, moved by pity, Jesus healed this leprous person. In that the mercy of God is witnessed.

So on this January day, at the beginning of a new year, where and when is the presence and the mercy of God active in your unique circumstance?

Do you have the faith of the leper to approach Jesus for his merciful healing — healing of relationships (perhaps strained over the holidays), healing in family, among friends, in your work place? Or a healing of body (cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, depression)? Or a healing of the spirit? Where do you need forgiveness or a recommitment to service? Where do you need empowerment, courage, or focus to play your role in building God’s kingdom on earth? These may be ordinary times, but these are important questions and you have extraordinary resources and opportunities to experience the mercy of God.

The presence of God is all around us, if we have but the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and heart to recognize God in our midst. The divine presence was not confined to the arc of the covenant, nor is it confined to a church. The divine presence, especially the creative presence of God, is revealed in every snowflake, blue sky, spring rain or the lightening that creases a southern sky. The presence of God is in your neighbor, your spouse and children; in your co-workers or students. God’s generous presence is in the touch of the care giver (or receiver), nurse, physician, chaplain or bus driver. For as the poet Hopkins says: “…Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his to the father through the features of men’s faces.”

The divine presence is within you! That is an extraordinary realization in this ordinary time.

Reflect, too, on today’s Psalm, which summarizes God’s affection for you: “Redeem, me Lord, because of your mercy.”

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