06 Feb, 2017. Monday, Week 5

Saint Paul Miki and Companions, martyrs

1st Reading: Genesis 1:1-19

God creates light, sky, earth and sun, moon and stars, in the act of creation

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

Gospel: Mark 6:53-56

The sick were brought to Jesus and whoever touched him with faith was healed

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.


God’s world and ours

The Genesis reading gives a wide-angle view of the universe as the sanctuary or throne for God’s majestic presence. All religious ceremonies–whether in the Jerusalem temple or on the altars of our churches–must retain contact with the physical world of earth and sky, if they are to be reminders of God’s redemptive acts for us, mortal, earthbound creatures. At the same time, without regular liturgy we can lose sight of the mysterious presence of God in our universe and in our daily living.

Genesis clearly declares that the world lit by the light of the sun and where we can hear the strange melodies of the wind, is indeed a world of beauty, a sacred world. Each facet of creation is a response to God’s word, “Let there be light–let there be a sky in the middle of waters–let there be lights in the dome of the sky.” And God saw that it was good–all that results from his creative word.

But even in God’s good world there are many dark spots, of sickness, disorder, grief and injustice. In today’s story from St Mark we see the healing touch of Jesus at work, bringing hope and consolation to those who were sick. He calls his followers–ourselves–to be like himself, instruments of God to cleanse and revive our good world. Our efforts of kindness and love extend the range of Jesus’ healing touch; our words of forgiveness and encouragement echo the word of God. We go out as instruments of blessing, at the end of each Eucharistic liturgy, to carry on God’s creative work in our real world.

To touch even the fringe of his cloak

The gospel today conveys the great popularity of Jesus among the ordinary people of Galilee. In particular, it was the sick and broken that he attracted, because God’s healing power was at work through him. People begged him to let him touch even the fringe of his cloak, as the woman had done who was healed of her flow of blood. The gospel says that people were hurrying to bring the sick to him. The broken and needy, especially, were desperate to get to him and to connect with him.

In our own lives too, it is often in our brokenness that we seek out the Lord with the greatest urgency. Something happens to us that brings home to us our vulnerability, our weakness, our inability to manage. In those situations, when we come face to face with our limitations, we can seek out the Lord with a greater energy and an urgency we don’t normally show. It is those experiences, where we come face to face with our frailties, that bring home to us our need of the Lord and our dependence on him. It is often the darker and more painful experiences of life that open us up to the Lord. When Paul was struggling with his “thorn in the flesh,” he heard the risen Lord say to him, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” Our various experiences of weakness can be like gateways through which we reach out to the Lord and the Lord comes to us.

Saint Paul Miki and Companions, martyrs

Paul Miki (1562-1597) was a Japanese Jesuit seminarian and preacher who won many converts to Catholicism. In the subsequent persecution under Hideyoshi, Miki was jailed, along with others, and was crucified in Nagasaki with two fellow-Jesuits and 23 other clergy and laity.

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