Sixth Week of Ordinary Time: Feb. 17-23, 2019

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Alexander, Andy, S.J.
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"But who do you say that I am?" Peter said to him in reply, "You are the Christ." Mark 8
The Sixth Week in Ordinary Time|On the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time we hear Luke's account of the Beatitudes and warnings, as Jesus proclaims the blessings he offers us and the warnings he gives us. It all is about accepting discipleship now versus choosing our own way now.|Friday is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter and Saturday is the Memorial of St. Polycarp.|We continue with first readings from the Book of Genesis. This is the beginning of the story of salvation: Cain and Abel, Noah and the Ark, the Tower of Babel. The week concludes with the Letter to the Hebrews' summary of the faith of our ancestors in the faith.|As we follow Jesus' ministry in Mark's Gospel, we witness Jesus' discouragement as he again encounters the challenges of the religious leaders: "he sighed from the depth of his spirit." As they retreat to the other side of the lake, Jesus warns his disciples against the rebellious "leaven" of the Pharisees and reminds them of the meaning of the miracle of the loaves - he is like God, come to feed them in whatever desert journey they encounter. Jesus heals a blind man who first sees only in a distorted way - a scene which begins the journey to Jerusalem on which Jesus tries to heal the blindness of his disciples. Peter acknowledges Jesus as the Christ but rejects Jesus' instruction that he must suffer and die before the resurrection. Jesus rebukes him and instructs his disciples about their discipleship. It is about taking up our own cross with him: "whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it." Then Jesus takes Peter, James and John and shows them his glory, to prepare them for the scandal of the cross.|On the Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time we hear Luke's account of the difference discipleship means in the real lives of Jesus' followers: loving your enemies, turning the other cheek, doing to others what we'd want them to do for us, being merciful as our Father is merciful, forgiving as we wish to be forgiven, measuring out our generosity as we would wish to receive it.
Daily Prayer This Week|We can feel the tension in this week's readings. Jesus is trying to warn his disciples - and us - about the rebellious style of the Pharisees, about hypocrisy. And, he is trying to heal the blindness of his disciples - and us - about what his mission is all about. He has come to free us from sin and the captivity we have to all kinds of self-centered patterns.|So when we stay reflective this week, we can become more conscious of how we rebel from the path of Jesus, from joining him in becoming less selfish. When we begin our days this week, we can ask, "Lord, help me see the ways I'm too self-centered this week. Help me notice the needs of those you place in my life. Stretch my heart to love more today." It is simple, but it begins to change our focus.|As we go through the week, we can pay closer attention to our resistance, the places we catch ourselves holding back. We can open our eyes to see the patterns in our lives that we might not have paid attention to before. It doesn't have to be serious evil we are choosing. It might just be ways in which we are avoiding losing our lives for him. Once we focus, start paying attention to the daily choices we make, our day becomes a day of prayer. We can be in communion with the Lord throughout the day because it becomes a day of dialogue, in the midst of all the busyness. "Lord, as I put on this sweater, I'm aware how I just spoke to Helen. I'm sorry. That was all about my fear, wasn't it? I cut her off because I was just afraid of what she was asking of me. I became more aware of the cost to me than anything else. Please help me to continue to see how I respond to people. Please calm my fears." We can get in the habit of doing this kind of prayer every day, right where we are, in very brief moments. Finding intimacy with God in the midst of our daily lives is the goal of this kind of prayer.|All of this is reinforced by our prayer of gratitude each night. if we are liking this kind of communion with our Lord each day, and thanking God for it each night, there is no question that we will be developing a new pattern in our life. We tend to continue to do what we enjoy. And gratitude feeds even more openness and generosity.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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