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. 10-16, 2021
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First Week of Ordinary Time
The Baptism of the Lord is on Sunday. 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 Mark's Gospel, after Jesus' baptism: “On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, 'You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.'” This feast marks the end of the Christmas season. Monday begins Ordinary Time 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.
For the next six weeks, until the beginning of Lent, the weekday gospels are from Mark's Gospel. This week Mark offers us a look at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. Monday he calls his first disciples: Simon and Andrew, John and James. He drives out evil spirits and heals Peter's mother-in-law. When he slips away to pray and the crowd follows, he returns to preaching: “For this purpose have I come.” Moved with pity, he heals a leper who told so many people about his healing that “it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.” When a paralytic was lowered down through a roof for healing, Jesus forgives sins to the skepticism of the scribes. The week ends as Jesus extends an invitation to the despised tax collector, Levi/Matthew “Follow me.”
Sunday in the Second Week of Ordinary Time, John's Gospel offers us the story of the calling of the first two disciples. He asks them what they are looking for and when they ask where he lives, he invites them, “Come, and you will see.”
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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