Reflection for Monday, February 12, 2018: 6th Week in Ordinary Time.

No Thumbnail Available
Burke-Sullivan, Eileen
Issue Date
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Alternative Title
|Memorial of Saint Apollonia, Deaconess, and patron saint of dentists, and of those who suffer toothaches|The cycle of saints' feast days invites us today to honor a woman of the Third Century who was an elderly deaconess.  She was attacked by a mob in Alexandria, Eqypt,  because she was known to be a Christian, and they beat her and knocked out all her teeth – hence she is the patron of both dentists and of those with toothaches (a bit of humor on the Church's part, perhaps?)  Apollonia then died a martyr by being burned to death.  She was extolled by Saint Augustine for her great courage and love of God.  We can profit by remembering both that Apollonia was an extraordinarily courageous woman, and one selected by the Church for Ordered (ordained) service as a deaconess.  It is a good day today to pray for your dentist and for all of us at Creighton University to pray for our dental faculty, staff and students,  and their courage and fidelity in the face of challenges.|The Liturgy today follows the Ordinary Time cycle because Apollonia's celebration is a memorial.  The readings follow the semi-continuous pattern that the Church has been following since the beginning of Ordinary Time right after the Baptism of the Lord.  This period of the Liturgical year emphasizes the call of Christ to specific persons and to all of Israel to follow him as disciples to bring God's good news to the human family.  The Gospel passage from Mark describes a very frustrated Jesus (how human, indeed)!  He sighs deep within himself in frustration because his listeners demand certainty – proof of his authority (which he has given over and over with the various healings and other "signs") – rather than answering his call to faith.  No certainty will be given – God invites us to give the gift of our loving trust which is the fruit of faith. |The author of the Pastoral Epistle of James challenges his readers to faith as well in the first reading.  We are to ask for gifts of God in faith, not doubt – but James is not suggesting that we shouldn't have questions or wonderment, rather doubt here is the unwillingness to live in faith instead of certainty.  Certainty puts us in control.  If I am certain, there is no risk, so there is no need to trust – I don't have to give anything of myself because I have a "guarantee" that leaves me utterly secure in MYSELF, not in God.|The truth is that certainty is an illusion – just as my control over my own life is an illusion.  Thus, James continues by speaking how the poor need to think of their great dignity as the children of God, and the materially rich need to be careful that they don't become "secure in their riches" but remember, in humility, that they too will die.  Their wealth gives them no certainty, no security about the most important realities in life.|This week serves as a good time to enter the season of Lent.  As this period of Ordinary Time comes to a close it is well to consider that everything that is authentic about us as creatures of God's loving creation, depends on God's compassion and mercy.  If it is trials that we are to be subjected to, we must consider them gifts because they give us the opportunity to ask in faith for God's help.  In asking for help we recognize our dependence upon God and upon other people.  This position of humility reflects what is true and therefore brings us life that will last in eternal joy.|As I prayed with these readings the last few days, I have been struck with how deeply this understanding of faith challenges my cultural assumptions:   My trials are my joys?  Certitude will condemn me to life outside of God's mercy? Faith requires a generosity of spirit that trusts without guarantees?  Wow, that is not what the Wall Street Journal asserts, or the New York Times either.|How can I announce this good news without a renewal of Spirit? Both saints Mark and James witness today to Jesus' challenge to live in FAITH, not certitude. That is the Faith that was given to me in Baptism.|The coming weeks of Lent provide the time and community support to ponder this truth and be renewed in it.  Have I kept a Baptismal candle of faith lighted in my heart?  I think, perhaps, it is time to seek "spiritual matches" to re-ignite the fire of God's presence in my life – how about you?
University Ministry, Creighton University.
These reflections may not be sold or used commercially without permission. Personal or parish use is permitted.
PubMed ID