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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Homily 2021-01-16 Saturday First Week in Ordinary Time

Hebrews 4:12-16; Psalm 19; Mark 2:13-17
Today’s First Reading describes the Word of God as sharper than any double edged sword piercing until it divides the soul from the spirit and the joints and marrow. This sword also judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Years ago, when I read this, I thought the Word of God referred here is Scripture. But the next verse says: And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. The Word of God is he whom no creature is hidden. The Word of God then is Jesus, who pierces and divides the soul from the spirit and the joints from marrow and judges the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Nothing is hidden from him because he sees through us and we all have to give an account to him.
The Gospel today shows how this happens. Levi was a rich man, a tax collector and despite his wealth, he wanted more in his life because when Jesus called him: he got up and followed him. Jesus pierced the soul of Levi and quickened Levi’s joints and marrow so that Levi stood up and followed Jesus. When the scribes of the Pharisees grumbled, Jesus said: Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.
If we search for rest in the midst of this pandemic, with its associated fears and concerns and uncertainties, if we search for rest in the midst of guilt, shame, or confusion of the evil in our past, if we search for rest in the midst of self-pity, self-condemnation, regret of missed opportunities, only Jesus can pierce our body and soul to give us rest. As a skilled physician pierces the body to perform an operation on a patient, Jesus pierces our soul and body to take out what hinders us from following him.
Which is why there is no need to be afraid because the First Reading tells us: we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. The First Reading concludes: let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. This is an invitation to come to Jesus, not in fear, but with boldness. Jesus sees through us. He understands what we are going through and as a Divine Physician, he will heal our wounds if we let him.
So how do we approach Jesus with boldness? The psalm today says: let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. What is acceptable to God are not our good works, nor our accomplishments, nor our position in life. What God finds acceptable are words of surrender, of repentance and of trust that come from our lips and the cry of our hearts that long for forgiveness, rest and healing. Psalm 51 tells us: A humble and contrite heart, you will not scorn. When we come to the Lord in trust, he will receive us, because those who trust in the Lord will not be put to shame.
If you want to come to Jesus but do not know how, then during the consecration, when the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross is made present, ask Jesus to pierce your body and soul so he can judge your thoughts and intentions to purify them. Come before the throne of grace with boldness so you may receive mercy in your time of need. If you are tired of the effects of this pandemic, come to Jesus because he said, Come to me, all you who labor and overburdened, and I will give you rest. Are you afraid? Come to Jesus to find peace. Are you ashamed of the evil you did before? Come to Jesus for healing. There is no sin he will not and cannot forgive, because he is greater than all the evil in the world. Are you feeling guilty or regret, or feel you cannot forgive yourself for what you did in the past? Come to Jesus because he makes all things new.
Our Blessed Mother was also pierced in her heart with her sorrows. Ask her to be with you as you allow her Son to pierce your body and soul. Ask her to lead you home to her Son so you can receive help in your time of need, for the glory of God the Father.

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