Jesus saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
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Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer
First Week of Ordinary Time: Jan. 8 - 14, 2017
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First Week of Ordinary Time
In the U.S. Sunday is the Epiphany. It is the time for us to celebrate that our Lord's coming was revealed to and was really for the whole world.
Sunday is the Baptism of the Lord in most of the world. It is celebrated on Monday in the U.S. We hear the Lord say in the first reading from Isaiah, “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit.” That is echoed in Luke's Gospel, after Jesus' baptism: “And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Baptism of the Lord marks the end of the Christmas season. We begin Ordinary Time this week on the Church calendar which will continue until Ash Wednesday.
During this first week in Ordinary Time, we begin a four week cycle of weekday readings from the Letter to the Hebrews. This is the longest letter to any community in the New Testament. It seems to be a discouraged community that receives encouragement in this letter.
For the next eight weeks, until the beginning of Lent, the weekday gospels are from Mark's Gospel. Mark offers us a look this week at the beginning of Jesus public ministry. He drives out evil spirits, heals the sick and forgives sins, to the skepticism of the scribes. He hears the cry of the leper: “If you wish, you can make me clean,” and Jesus, “moved with pity” heals him. Friends lower a paralytic from a roof down into the crowd in front of Jesus, who heals him and says, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus extends an invitation to the despised tax collector, Levi: “Follow me.”
The Second Sunday of Ordinary Time offers us beautiful readings. From the Prophet Isaiah: “I will make you a light to the nations...” In John's Gospel John the Baptist and his followers see Jesus as he walks toward them. John says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’”
Daily Prayer This Week
In this first week of Ordinary Time, we might find ourselves feeling a little let-down after the Christmas season, especially in parts of the world where it seems cold and dark most days. This is where we can ask for the grace to let the stories of the gospels come alive in our hearts.
The vivid narratives of this week's gospel are packed with stories of Jesus' entering into the lives of real people and touching them in extraordinary ways. These are not far away stories, but ones that have a real meaning for us. This is a week of invitation from Jesus to us, with two invitations for us to ponder in our hearts this week.
Jesus encounters Levi, a Jewish tax collector. Because of his profession, he was probably wealthy but he had humiliated his family and made himself a pariah to most of those around him. Jesus' response to this “outcast” was to invite him to be one of his closest disciples - and to dine at his house.
In our own lives we may find a loneliness or separation from people in our family or others in our lives. We have parts of our lives that are dark and embarrassing and seem unchangeable. It is into this very darkness and discomfort that Jesus extends the same invitation to us - “Follow me.” This clear and personal call to us is from Jesus who already knows us and our failings and yet asks us to be with him. We can hear this invitation more clearly if we can be touched with awareness of our own failings and understand more deeply how much we need a savior in our lives. It is then that our hearts open to accept this invitation.
This week Jesus invites us to follow him, as friends and disciples. This is a good week for us to contemplate with Jesus, what we are looking for and how much we want to turn and follow him. We can pray to Jesus for the strength to leave the patterns and habits of our lives that so often turn us away from him and ask for the grace to make a new beginning in our lives. If we can sit with our hands open in humility, we can accept that we can't do this on our own, but know in our hearts that with the help of God, nothing is impossible.
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