Today’s Gospel: Mark 3:1-6
Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr
“They watched Jesus closely.” Today’s description of the Pharisees watching Jesus haunts me. Those words captivate me because they remind me Jesus was a real man who was active on this earth. Amazingly, it was once possible to watch the Son of God, to look into his eyes, to see what he was like in person.
More haunting still is the thought that these watchful Pharisees were eyeing Jesus for a deadly reason. They paid attention to him not to learn or admire, but to plot revenge. What might have been a good and beautiful opportunity—watching Jesus—became twisted through fear and jealousy.
Watching the Pharisees watch Jesus helps me consider the many times I have begun something (a chore, a conversation, a car ride) that could have been a source of grace, but became instead a spoiled opportunity through my own sinfulness or negativity. Parents often complain about this phenomenon in the family: This vacation was supposed to be a treat! I worked so hard to set aside time and pay for this, and all you do is FIGHT! But children aren’t the only ones who spoil perfectly good opportunities. If I’m honest with myself, I recognize the Pharisee in me.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if gazing at Jesus magically compelled us to overcome sin and choose good? It’s tempting to think that if I pray enough and stay close to Jesus and his Church, I’ll automatically be a “good Catholic.” Not so! Incredibly, God gives us freedom. Today’s Pharisees haunt me because they literally looked upon the face of God and still chose death. God respects our freedom. This makes me cling to Christ and beg him to strengthen me. This makes me want to be gentle with others. May God have mercy on those spying Pharisees, on me, and on all our brothers and sisters whom our Lord loves with such passion.
What opportunities regularly lead me to be critical of myself or others? How can I make a new choice?
God of mercy, strengthen me. I want to be like Jesus.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Grace Mazza Urbanski