A lesson in mathematics – Thursday, 3rd Week in ordinary time – Mark 4:21-25

Chapter 4 introduces us to four of the parables that Jesus narrated. Since we celebrated the feast of the Conversion of St Paul the lectionary skipped the first of the four parable and as we are given to understand the key parable for understanding all other parables (4:13)

To read about the parable of the sower, as it is commonly called you could click on this link which will also give you a brief introduction to what parables are. https://www.pottypadre.com/soiler-alert/

In Mark 4:21-25 we have two short parables of Jesus, one which is a matter of plain common sense and the other a bit obscure in its meaning. When the word parable is used, we normally think of long stories spanning several verses, like the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-9) or the famous parable of the prodigal son (Luke15). But as we know, a parable is literally “something thrown beside something else”; it’s a comparison of something earthly with something spiritual. So, they can be long narratives or short, pithy comparisons of a verse or two. Today’s text illustrates how Jesus could use the shortest of little comparisons to illustrate deep spiritual truths. Both the parables are two verses long, separated by a warning in the middle.

In the Old Testament, a lamp is a metaphor for three things: God, Messiah, and the Torah. The original Greek text does not read as ‘a lamp’ but THE LAMP. In short, Jesus is revealing his identity and mission in this text, indicating that the lamp refers to himself as the Messiah. Putting all this together, Jesus is saying, “Does THE lamp come to be put under a measuring bowl or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lamp stand?”

Jesus wants his followers to let his light, his teaching shine out. Jesus the light, is not a searchlight to expose, shame or embarrass others. Some have mistakenly interpreted verse22 as referring to the sins of humans and that on judgment day; everything we have ever done will come to light. While this may be true it is not the correct interpretation within this context. So, if sins being exposed is not what Jesus was talking about here, what was he talking about? Verse 22 begins with the word ‘for’ indicating that verse 22 is a continuation or an elaboration of verse 21 concerning the eventual revelation of Christ’s divinity.

We have seen in Mark’s Gospel, as in the case of the leper in chapter one, that Jesus concealed his identity as God for a time. Rather than immediately boldly declare he was God and get himself killed before he had hardly begun his ministry, he first established his uniqueness through his healings, his immediate and absolute command of demons and his amazing teachings. So, when Jesus says, “For there is nothing hidden except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light,” he is speaking of himself. That which was hidden about him, even from his most ardent disciples up to this point, that is, his divinity and his mission to go to the cross and pay the penalty for sin, would eventually be revealed so that it should all come to light.

When Jesus, the light of truth shines, all is understood and forgiven. One has no need to hide nor does one need to choose to stay in the dark, be indifferent or hostile. The Gospel reading also tells us that Good News is to be shared; Jesus must be spoken about. Pope Francis, speaking to people who were concerned about the shortage of priests spoke about people who lived authentically Christian lives as being preachers of the Good News in today’s world.

Then there is a warning in verse 23, “Listen!” “Pay attention!” Jesus knows that it is easy for people to become inattentive even to the very things that bring them life. In listening, hearing and following Jesus, we grow in familiarity with his voice and hear more

We now read the second parable and the second part of this parable (verse 25) is obscure. When we read it, it seems like a paradoxical world where the wealthy keep accumulating riches and the poor are consistently deprived for no fault of theirs. Verse 24 which is part of the parable with verse 25 was not an original saying of Jesus. It was an old Hebrew proverb translated into the Greek and then translated into English, so something gets lost in the translation. The literal translation is, “In whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you and will be added to you.” Basically, this verse means that what you put in, you get out, plus more.

But remember that in today’s text, Jesus is talking about Himself. He was saying that the measure you put into seeking Jesus, Jesus will seek you in return and reward you more in return. Understanding this concept makes verse 25 clear – “For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.”

What Jesus means is that the person who seeks to gain spiritual insight into what he is saying will have that insight increased by exposure to his parables, whereas whoever does not listen to Jesus will end up in spiritual ignorance. What one gets out of Jesus’ teachings would depend on the degree of their commitment to hear it and listen with open hearts and minds. As with Jesus’ warning to the scribes in 4:11, the statement not only concerns ADDITION to those who hear but is a warning of SUBTRACTION to those who will not hear. Whoever listens, to him shall more be given; to whoever does not listen, from him shall be taken away.

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Saved from something, saved for something – The conversion of St Paul, the Apostle – Mark 16:15-18

Read also these three articles  https://www.pottypadre.com/the-rest-as-they-say-is-history/

https://www.pottypadre.com/the-conversion-on-the-way-to-damascus-by-caravaggio/

https://www.pottypadre.com/the-persecutor-now-proclaims-pauls-vocation-story-tuesday-27th-week-in-ordinary-time-galatians-113-24/

Most Christians consider Christ’s encounter with Paul to be a prototype of Christian conversion, generally from an immoral to a moral life. But that wasn’t Saul’s conversion at all. His was a conversion from a false notion of a holy life to a true notion. Remember that Paul was a zealous follower of God.

Born a Jew in the Roman city of Tarsus, in modern-day Turkey. He had come down to Jerusalem to study at the feet of the greatest rabbi of the age, Gamaliel. He was a member of the Sanhedrin and one of the most respected Pharisees and Doctors of the Law of his era. The Pharisees had enumerated 613 laws found within the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Saul would have studied each of these laws carefully under him.

Though he learned the trade of a tent maker, he was a man who had great religious zeal. As a young man, Paul discovered a flourishing Christian community and at once became its bitter opponent. He believed that this trouble-making new sect should be stamped out, its adherents punished. He made it his mission to try to stomp out the heretical sect that was dividing Judaism and blasphemously claiming that a carpenter from Nazareth not only was the Messiah. We are told in Acts chapter 8 that when St Stephen impugned Law and temple, Paul, who although did not a participator in the stoning of Stephen, approved of it.

Now, breathing threats of slaughter against the disciples of Jesus, Paul hurried to Damascus when the grace of God effected his conversion. Saint Paul’s entire life can be explained in terms of one experience; his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul would have been the least person we would expect to become a believer but the ways of God are not like ours. No one is useless and unusable with God. Our past is inconsequential in Christ. When we receive the new life Christ gives, we are forgiven and we totally made new in him.
Paul’s history was very grim and evil but he didn’t let that describe him. He evolved and learnt from it, instead, and was turned into an unimaginable man of Faith. Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an apostle, and chosen to be one of the principal instruments of God in the conversion of the world.

It is commonly thought that God renamed Saul after his conversion and that “Saul” indicates the persecutor, while “Paul” refers to the changed, Christian man. However, in Acts 9:17, Ananias refers to him as Saul after his conversion. Later in Acts 13:2, the Holy Spirit addresses him as Saul before he sets off on his first missionary trip. In fact, he is referred to as Saul 11 times after his conversion. It is when he sets out from Jerusalem in Acts 13:13 that the gospel author Luke begins to refer to him as Paul which is in fact, the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Saul.” We must learn that the spiritual life is not a moment but a journey. Saul never ‘became’ Paul in a flash, he had to learn how to along the way.

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Are you a family member? Memorial of St Francis De Sales – Mark 3:31-35

Every year on Good Friday we attend services in large numbers. The ‘faithful’ who may not be very faithful the whole year round will not miss the service on this day. Sadly, for many, Good Friday is a check box ticked. What we have never seen perhaps is someone break down during the proclamation of the Lord’s passion. Such a sight would be understandable at a funeral of a loved one prompting one to ask the mourner, “are you a member of the family?” That’s a question we can ask ourselves today when we think of Jesus; are we a member of his family?

The text of today must be seen in the larger context of the rejection of Jesus in Galilee 3:7-6:6. This rejection comes from a number of quarters; the Jewish leaders, the disciples of John the Baptist, the people and even His own family. We know that his family tried to “restrain him” (3:21) thinking that Jesus was out of His mind.

Look at the scriptures and you realise that the brothers of Jesus had their moments when they were not supportive of His ministry (John 7:5). It is only after his resurrection that James, the brother of Our Lord became an important person in the early church (Acts 12:17; 15:3; 21:17-26; Galatians 1:19—2:14). He was a leader in the Jerusalem church, and possibly the first bishop of Jerusalem.

In the Gospel of today we are told that his mother and brothers are ‘standing outside’; they have come to meet him. There is a crowd of people that have gathered around the Lord and someone brings the news that his relatives are waiting “outside.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” (v. 33) asks Jesus? While this may sound disrespectful, it is not the case. Jesus does not ask this question to exclude his mother and brothers, but rather to set the stage for expanding the concept of family to include all those who do the will of God.

We should note that Jesus’ family is described twice as being on the “outside”; they are “outsiders”. By implication, those sitting in a circle with Jesus are on the “inside”; they are the “insiders”. What Jesus is clearly saying is that being on the “inside” is not just a question of location, but of relationship. That relationship is not by blood, but by identification with the Way of Jesus.

A question that might arise from this passage and one that might disturb us is the status of Jesus’ mother, Mary. Was she an ‘outsider’? The answer is an unequivocal ‘No‘. When reading this or any other text we need to read it in the larger context of the Gospels. We know from Luke’s gospel that when invited by the angel to be the mother of Jesus, Mary gave an unconditional ‘Yes’. This was her total surrender to the will of God. On one occasion, when Mary was praised as blessed and privileged for having a Son like Jesus, Jesus replied: No, blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it. (Luke 11:27-28). Mary is on the “inside”, not because she was the mother of Jesus, but because of her total identifying with his mission and being with him to the very end.

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When hate takes over – Monday, 3rd Week in ordinary time – Mark 3:22-30

Do also find another article on the same Gospel by clicking this link https://www.pottypadre.com/rejection-abounds-monday-3rd-week-in-ordinary-time-mark-322-30/

While great multitudes have been following Jesus, Our Lord has been facing rejection from people of his own home town and among his own relatives. Either out of concern for their own family name or out of genuine concern for Jesus, they come to restrain him (3:21) for they heard people say that “he has gone out of his mind.” Sin

When an acquaintance misunderstands you, the sting is felt but when someone you love dearly, someone close to your heart; a relative or best friend misunderstands you, then that rips your heart out. Much before Our Lord felt the 39 lashes or the nails that tore through his hands and feet, he felt the pain of rejection. In all of this, it is Jesus who is understanding, Jesus who is patient and Jesus who loves. The text of today is a case in point.

We are told that scribes have come down from Jerusalem. They have already had a difference of opinion with Jesus (Mark 2:6). They question his methodology of ministry (2: 16) when he eats with sinners. The scribes would by now be well aware of the Pharisees and the Herodians who had plotted to destroy Jesus. Enemies, make strange bed fellows!

So far, their angst with Jesus was merely a muttering in their heart (2:6) and a clarification sought (2:16) but in today’s Gospel they have given up tiptoeing around egg shells and lay their rancor out in the open, “He has Beelzebub and by the rulers of demons he casts out demons.” (3:22). To read about who Beelzebub is, go to https://www.pottypadre.com/rejection-abounds-monday-3rd-week-in-ordinary-time-mark-322-30/

I have seen this method of hate being employed so often. Shoot any and every accusation, even a bizarre one in the air and hope that something gets shot and dies. Of all the accusations they threw at Jesus, this was by far the most ridiculous. But then again think of those who dislike you immensely; it is they that throw the most ridiculous accusations knowing that popular opinion might get seized up in the moment and fiction becomes truth.

Our Lord could have called brimstone from heaven and burnt his accusers to cinder. Instead, he opens a channel of discussion. He is not negotiating terms of peace so that he may issue some sort of ‘apology’ and fall in line with mainstream rabbinic behaviour; rather he sits down to reason with his detractors. We are told, “he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables.” It is as if Our Lord has taken the level of discussion to the simplest stages of communication rather than throw lofty theology at them and make them feel like novices that rolled out of a small-town synagogue. There is sensitivity in his approach and great love in his communication. This was not a lecture that he gave but a reasoning in the faith.

Yet his teaching, practical and logical, has indeed a caveat. While one is free to express one’s views, the framework of those views must be respectful. One can’t give into any lose talk without the consequences that come with it. Those who hold constitutional posts in our nation or are appointed to high office can be disagreed with but false accusations and name calling can have you spend some rather uncomfortable nights in prison.

Swept away by their personal dislike for our Lord, the scribes have blasphemed against the Holy Spirt. It is the Holy Spirit that dwelt in Our Lord. Hate had blinded the scribes and now forgiveness will be deprived to them forever.

There is a lesson for us in this; when we find ourselves consumed by hate and anger, we simply give vent to words that slip between our lips. Apologies, no matter how sincerely expressed, cannot mend a broken heart.

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Pork Assad
½ Kg Pork
1 inch piece ginger
1 full pod of garlic
½ tea spoon turmeric
½ tea spoon ground pepper
1 inch piece cinnamon
5 cloves
3 Kashmiri chillies

Prick the pork with a fork and pat salt all over it. Grind the ginger and garlic, add turmeric, pepper powder and rub the mixture on the pork. Set this to rest overnight in the fridge.

The next day leave the pork out for about an hour so that it comes down to room temperature. Warm some oil and add in the cinnamon, cloves and red chillies and fry for about half a minute. Then add in the  marinated pork and fry till it is well brown on all sides. Add a one cup of water and allow it to cook with a lid on til the water is dry and the pork tender. You may need to add water if this drys up during the cooking process. This may take as long as an hour depending on the quality of the meat.

When done, saute onion rings or slices in a pan and to this add the cooked meat which you have diced or sliced

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