January 8, 2014

The Gospel Today 

Wednesday after Epiphany

Mark 6:45-52

After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied,
Jesus made his disciples get into the boat
and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida,
while he dismissed the crowd.
And when he had taken leave of them,
he went off to the mountain to pray.
When it was evening,
the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore.
Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing,
for the wind was against them.
About the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
He meant to pass by them.
But when they saw him walking on the sea,
they thought it was a ghost and cried out.
They had all seen him and were terrified.
But at once he spoke with them,
“Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!”
He got into the boat with them and the wind died down.
They were completely astounded.
They had not understood the incident of the loaves.
On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.

Reflection (Sem. Rolly Teng):

     In our Gospel today, we might want to ask, what was happening when Jesus obliged His disciples to get into the boat and went to the other side toward Bethsaida while Jesus sent away the crowd? If we read the whole story, Jesus was performing miracles, healing the sick with various diseases, and He was driving out many demons.

     Jesus was proclaiming the kingdom of God before the huge crowd. He continued to accomplish His mission here on earth.

     But we could also see that when Jesus got tired because of His mission or work, He went to a deserted place to pray and to commune with His beloved Father. For Jesus, prayer was very important. In prayer, Jesus drew strength and courage.

     Relating this to my own experience, prayer is the most powerful refuge for me every time I get tired or if I am in the midst of something to be done. Like, when I was in the youth ministry. In the year 2004 our archdiocese hosted the National Youth Conference. We expected thousands of young people all over the country. Since this was a national gathering, a huge preparation needs to be accomplished. There were tasks in logistics, accommodations, programs, registrations, liturgy and many more. Fortunately the liturgy was given to me. I prepared the rite, vestments, vessels and even the venues for the liturgical celebrations.

     But I was aware that my task was not only for the delegates and in the event itself, but also for the local volunteers as well. The preparations were not that easy. We felt tired and weak. Because of that, as part of our spiritual growth, week before the main event I organized Taize prayer. We asked God to grant us strength and courage to fulfill His mission. We lift up to Him all our worries and the success of the event, not for our own glory but instead for His greater glory. True enough, God sustained us and blessed us to accomplish the different tasks entrusted to each committee. St. Therese of the Child Jesus says, “My whole strength lies in prayer and sacrifice, these are my invincible arms; they can move hearts far better than words, I know it by experience.”

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