Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday word, 29 Jan 2007

Monday, 4th Week of the Year (29 Jan 2007) Hb 11. 32-40; Ps 31; Mk 5. 1-20
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
To Cooperate With Grace Means Life

The preacher to the Hebrews encouraged his hearers by rehearsing the great cloud of witnesses to Jesus. They didn’t have easy lives: we heard some were stoned, sawed in two, put to death at sword-point; they went about in skins of sheep or goats, needy, afflicted, tormented. They persevered, were clothed in glory and seated with our High Priest, Jesus.

Their perseverance was grace, and they cooperated with the grace Jesus gave each one. That cannot be stressed enough: cooperating with grace to persevere in witnessing to Jesus. When we forget that we feel everything is on us and up to us. We naturally ask how could I endure what they endured?

God has created each of us to endure in each one’s own way; and God in Christ by their Spirit graces each of us to endure. Our responsibility is to cooperate with our grace to endure. In a few moments of reflection each one of us can recall we have endured much already. We can marvel that we did and the manner in which we did. That we did endure means that we did cooperate with grace. We can cooperate again.

The gospel describes this as a gift. The man possessed by the manifold evil spirit lived among the dead--talk about being cast out! And was always crying out and bruising himself with stones--talk about a violent and inhuman existence! Why he was that way or how he got that way are questions which blind us to the message of this passage and seduce our gaze away from Jesus. The message, which Mark has made in the earlier chapters preceding Chapter 5, is this: Jesus is the Strong Man, who can enter the house of Satan and bind Satan who constrains and imprisons so many.

After Jesus freed the man, who once lived among the tombs and violently harmed himself, the people, who feared him, found him sitting there clothed and in his right mind. We shall see someone like him again clothed in white and seated in Jesus’ tomb with startling news/*/ proving that Jesus is that Strong Man who will free each of and seat us with himself if we persevere.

/*/ See Mark 16

Photo by wallyg used with permission of author under this Creative Commons Deed.

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