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What if God Were One of Us?

February 16, 2015

To set the stage for today, we must reflect on Saturdays Gospel reading, St. Mark’s account of the Feeding of the four-thousand.  Using merely seven loaves of bread and a few fish, Jesus was able to feed about four thousand people – and still have seven baskets of fragments left over.  Miracle, right?  Well the Pharisees didn’t think so, and they came up to the Lord and demanded for a sign from heaven.  Mind you – and Jesus knew this – these Pharisees were testing him and plotting on ways to destroy him, for he threatened not only their living, but their way of life.

At this point, I would like to encourage everyone to not only read Scripture every day; as you are all faith-filled Christian Catholics I know you do this on top of attending daily Mass like you do.  But also, find a commentary – a good one.  Scott Hahn does a great job, and there are others, too.  I myself prefer the exciting scripture study and exegesis provided by the Jerome Biblical Commentary from the early sixties (and it was an exciting time for Scripture scholars back then!).  Pray on what you are reading, don’t just guess what it means – go find out what the scholars teach us about 1st century Judea.  And then you are ready to teach others!

What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.

Now, close your eyes and form a picture of Jesus in your mind.  We are a television generation, so perhaps you see Max von Sydow from The Greatest Story Ever Told; or an amazing Robert Powell from Jesus of Nazareth; or maybe a life changing effort by Jim Caveziel from The Passion of the Christ.  Now picture this:  The Gospel reads, “He (Jesus) sighed from the depths of his spirit…”  Imagine the enormity of that mental image: God the Son, sighed.  It says he sighed, Mark wrote anastenaxas as sighing deeply, but Zondervan translates it “having groaned”!  Can you imagine the human part of Jesus, just aching to groan, ‘Oh come on!  What more to you need here?’  But he doesn’t.  He sighed from the depths of his spirit.  The word St. Mark uses – pneumatikos; pneuma : air, the spirit of God.  Mark uses a symbolism as elegant as any John wrote.  He just cuts to the chase quicker.  We have heard the use of this in Scripture before.  It’s powerful.  The very breath of God.  Genesis 1:2, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters – NAB translates to a mighty wind, but Mark’s Greek?  Pneuma Theou – spirit of God. When Elijah was hiding out in the cave, in 1 Kings 19, A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountain and crushing rocks before the Lord – pneuma.  John 3:6-8 – What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I told you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it wills.  All pneuma, the spirit of God.  John 20:22 – He breathed on them and said to them “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And so one.  The imagery is strong.  Jesus groaned with a deep breath of all creation.  Because of silly Pharisees?  No, it is everyone.  “Why does this generation seek a sign?”  That’s us, too, right?  Well we have the Bible, which must be good enough?  But if someone claiming to be Jesus Christ were to appear today, or perform a miracle today, or to preach today, still we would doubt, just like the Pharisees, wouldn’t we?  It’s that old TV show Joan of Arcadia.  What if God were one of us?

I believe we have this little moment, this Demand for a Sign, to explain to us that we are not to demand of God a sign that he is indeed God.  I believe that we are to strengthen our faith in the Word, and the rest will come to us, naturally.  Even on television.

 

Faithfully,

Papa

 

Readings for February 16, 2015; Sixth Monday of Ordinary Time; President’s Day

First Reading,: Genesis 4:1-15, 25.  Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him..

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 50:14a) – R.  Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.

Gospel Reading: Mark 8:11-13.  Why does this generation seek a sign?

 

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