Archive for February, 2011

Blessed Are They Who Fear the Lord

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Thursday of the 5th Week of Ordinary Time

Gen 2: 18-25; Mk 7: 24-30

Dc. Larry Brockman


“Blessed are they who fear the Lord”.  That was our response, repeated several times this morning.   Indeed, we hear all the great things that will happen to us if we fear the Lord.  For example, we shall eat of the fruit of our handiwork; have many children; and see prosperity all the days of our lives- all because we fear the Lord.  These images, and granted they are Old Testament images, were evidence of great favor in the culture of ancient times.   

Now the word “Fear” in this context means a healthy respect, rather than the kind of fear that is a terrifying horror.  It is like the respect a young child shows his parents.  Given the awesome power and overwhelming benevolence the child sees, they honor and respect every word, action, and facial expression of the parents.  Their parents are their whole world to them.  Even their cries can echo a sense of respect.   

The Syrophoenician woman in the Gospel is a person that fears the Lord in this sense.  This woman respected the power of God that was entrusted to Jesus so much that she believed that whatever was left over from Jesus ministry to the people of God, the Jews- yes, even that little built, like the scraps children drop from the table would be more than sufficient  to heal her daughter, to heal her daughter of the presence of an unclean spirit.   

If we could see a prayer dramatized- the lifting of a person’s mind and heart to God in a request to God to help that person, then the story of the Syropoenician woman is basically like that.  It is a vision of how a humble, sincere prayer to God was heard and answered by God himself in real time.   

Many of us here this morning have similar dilemmas as this woman.  We have a demon that needs to be cast out somewhere in our families or in our lives, and despite our best efforts, we can’t seem to get it done ourselves.  It might be a big demon- like somebody’s addiction, a depression, or a financial disaster;  or it may be a smaller demon; ;ike a bad personal habit or someone who is pestering us.  But it won’t go away.  And yet, if we fear the Lord, and bring our hearts and minds to God, He will answer our prayers, because “Blessed are they who fear the Lord”. 

You Can do it if you Believe

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Thursday of the 4th Week of Ordinary Time

Heb 12: 18-19, 21-24; Mk 6: 7-13

Dc. Larry Brockman


What a visionary.  Paul’s visions of the Old and the New Testament God are so graphic.  First, he gives his vision the Old Covenant vision of the God of Moses- fearful, terrifying, power and might, and foreboding.  It was a vision such that people begged that there be no more of it.  In fact, Paul says even Moses thought the scene was terrifying.  But then, Paul gives a vision of God in the New Testament- a heaven that awaits all of us because we are the ones invited to approach it.  It is a wonderful, joyful, welcoming place of peace and joy.  Such a contrast!   

It seems to me that the first vision communicates a sense of overwhelming power- a power that none of us can cope with, a power that is hopelessly beyond us, the power of the almighty God.  It evokes fear, because it should evoke fear.  All of us are so small compared to God, that all of us should fear the immensity and the power of the supreme being.  It is a power and might that should strip of us of all our prideful inclinations.  And indeed, that was the emotion that Moses described.   

But the fact is that when Jesus came, it was our merciful God coming among us to calm our fears.  Jesus broadcast a message of the love and mercy of God.  It was as if God was saying, “Look, I will take on your nature so that you can see that you do not need to fear me like that; just listen to me, and I will show you the way so that you can be with me in eternal joy.  Don’t worry, be happy; I am a God of mercy”.   

But with that promise, there comes a price to pay.  That’s what our Gospel is all about today.  Did you notice that Jesus sends his disciples forth to preach before his passion?  It was a sort of trial run of the Apostle’s future mission after He dies and is resurrected.  These men of faith are told what to do- to carry out their mission with confidence and in faith.  They are empowered with authority.  And walla, they do it- they cure the sick, drive out demons and work miracles!   

Now the way I see it, these men were just showing all of us the way.  We, too, are being sent out to work miracles and spread the good news.  First we have to believe.  Then the conviction of our belief and the reassurance of our God will give us the authority and the confidence to do mighty things.  Unlike the Apostles, whose mission really was to spread Christianity to the whole World. our mission is much less ambitious.  We just need to practice our faith in our lives, in our families, and in our communities- in our little world.  We are called upon to do that with confidence and authority, so that our brothers will see that Christianity is the way and the truth.  In our little world, there are many demons to cast out:  Abortion, lusts of all kinds, and materialism are just a few;  And there are many illnesses to cure: addictions, psychological disorders, and others.  And we can do it, because we really do believe.