January 22, 2022
by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children
Lectionary: 316

Samuel 1:1-4, 11-12, 19, 23-27
Psalm 80:2-3, 5-7
Mark 3:20-21

A reflection on this memorial
from 2020

Praying Ordinary Time

U.S. Catholic Bishops' Site for this Day of Prayer

Collect for Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life:
God our Creator,
we give thanks to you, who alone have the power to impart the breath of life as you form each of us in our mother's womb;
grant, we pray, that we, whom you have made stewards of creation, may remain faithful to this sacred trust and constant in safeguarding the dignity of every human life.

So we are watching or listening to the first “Family Intervention” in the Gospels. As we know, some interventions work and some are delayed in their good results. These group encounters take great faith, courage and planning. There must be evidence of harm to self, family and friends. Close relatives are often not the most helpful interveners. They are usually too close and those most damaged and emotional. They are the most interested in recovery of the intervened-upon as well as their own recovery.

Today’s Gospel from Mark is a two-verse picture of concerned relatives. They had heard about His early interventions in the lives of others and that crowds were following him even back to His home. Shall we say that they had heard about His doings, healings, but that, they themselves, had not experienced His person, but only His reputation. They kind of knew him through family-ties, but hear-say can disrupt perception. Apparently the relatives objected to His popularity and even more, His unpredictability. Early in Mark’s Gospel Jesus is doing what will become His usual, but for the interveners, disturbingly unusual.

In the days of Jesus, family relations, especially with parents, were sacred. Most things religious, according to the Law, were binding. These relatives show up right before the Jewish keepers of the Law, the Scribes. Jesus, early in His public life, is a Law-breaking threat. The good things early in Mark’s Gospel are mainly personal encounters of healing and inviting. His miracles are individual instances of His entire mission to turn it down-side up and be Himself the Divine Intervener in the lives of those who will let Him touch them. Those who were at a distance, who came to challenge or correct Him, were kept at a safe distance from His healing words and touch.

In my own Jesuit life, I have profited from many interventions by persons who loved me perhaps more than I loved myself. Their intrusions have created a me that is definitely God’s work. I needed incarnations of that Love to bring me to this life of mission and ministries. That took faith and courage and some fear of course that I might think they were out of their minds. Be assured, it was not always received with gratitude, joy and immediate change. I make a quite solemn declaration here. The good things which I do, which are many, are absolutely the result of God’s goodness lived out through those who took me by the shoulders, or kicked me in the butt, or hugged me into the humiliating and humbling acceptance of the good they saw and I was afraid to accept.

Jesus was in His right mind, right heart, right spirit, because He listened. Me too and I still am!  

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