Sunday, January 8, 2017

Reflection for the 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Cooperation

John the Baptist is a perfect model of cooperation between human free will and God's divine will. When Jesus first approached John to be baptized, John hesitated. He recognized that Jesus definitely didn't need the baptism of repentance he was offering the Israelites. Instead, John humbly acknowledged, “I need to be baptized by You.”

Jesus, however, responded, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” In other words, Jesus' baptism was God's will, a necessary part of God's plan of salvation.

John immediately agreed. He aligned his free will with God's will and chose to cooperate with God's plan even though he didn't understand it entirely. He put aside his feelings and questions and did what Jesus asked.

And look what happened. The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus as He was coming up from the water, and the voice of the Father spoke to identify His beloved Son. John knew then that the Messiah had come among His people, and he must have been grateful for his willing cooperation in God's plan.

Tuesday – Authority

In today's Gospel we see Jesus' authority in action. When He entered into the synagogue and taught, His hearers recognized His authority immediately. He wasn't like the scribes who hesitated and waffled. Jesus knew what He was talking about, no doubt about it.

Then a possessed man stepped up with a challenge. The evil spirit within him cried out, “What have You to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!”

Jesus would have none of it. The spirit certainly knew who He was, but it wasn't the place of a demon to announce the Son of God to the world. “Quiet! Come out of him!” Jesus ordered, and the spirit had no choice but to obey.

Now here was something new, something the crowd hadn't seen before. They were amazed. Their teachers and scribes could never have done such a thing. The evil spirit wouldn't have listened to them. “What is this?” they asked each other. “A new teaching with authority.” Word spread quickly as people tried to figure out exactly Who had come among them.

Wednesday – Like Us

Jesus became like us in everything except sin. Think about that for a moment. Jesus knows what it's like to be hungry and thirsty. He knows what it's like to be tired and stressed. He knows what it's like not to feel good. He knows what it's like to be rejected. He knows what it's like to be hurt by people He loves. He knows what it's like to grieve. He knows what it's like to be anxious and scared. He knows what it's like to be in pain.

Jesus was tested. Jesus suffered. Jesus died.

He entered intimately into our human condition, and He understands us from the inside out. He knows how we feel; He has great compassion for us; and He can and will help us no matter what we are going through. He came out on the other side, and He will guide us there, too, if only we cling to Him. After all, He became like us in everything except sin so He could do just that.

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