Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken. While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.
We all have addictions and bad behaviors/habits in our lives. There isn’t anyone on this side of Heaven who is Perfect like Jesus. And, that’s OK. God made us with one obvious design challenge; that, mainly due to the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, all of us in the flesh will fail God through sin again and again and again. But the Good News is that there’s always Grace in this. God simply commands us to be as obedient as we can and, when we do, from time-to-time, fail Him, we are simply to admit it and ask for His Forgiveness for it. And this applies to anything – even murder, theft, adultery, and the whole mess of other horrible things that we all sometimes engage in. God wants us to follow the example of His Son in all things – including overturning the tables of sin in our lives. We all have momentary lapses in judgement; we all fall prey to satan at one time or another like Adam and Eve. But to continue to let evil run amok in our lives is just plain wrong and its always a good time to turn the tables on satan. So, if it’s greed, let’s flip that table! If it’s envy, let’s flip that table! If it’s pornography, let’s flip that table! There isn’t a single table of sin that exists that is too heavy for the Holy Spirit to flip via our hands. Let’s all do our best to get Right with God each and every day and let him grab the tables of sin in our own Temples (our Bodies) with us and send them upside down, too. Then, we’ll be acting like Jesus (John 2:13-25) and His Apostles (Acts 17:6)!
Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
One of the core tenets of our Faith is to listen to the Lord. It is the first step in a process that typically goes, “listen, trust, obey”. If we can’t hear the Word of the Lord, how can we ever truly know Who He is? If we don’t trust the Word of the Lord, how can we ever grow in Faith? And, if we don’t obey the Word of the Lord, how can we ever expect His Graces and Mercy? In the Transfiguration of Jesus in the Gospel, there were a lot of things taking place in a very cosmic sort of way. The experience was so overwhelming that Peter, John, and James were terrified; God definitely had their full attention. But sometimes “terrified” is the perfect place for the Holy Trinity to get our attention, too. If things in the world look terrifying to us today, perhaps that’s just another way that God gets us focused on Him and His Son, Jesus. If we simply give Jesus our full attention and “Listen to Him”, we can grow in Faith to one day enjoy His Eternal Graces and Mercy.
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Far too often, I hear people say that they only Pray for help from God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. For many Believers, they just don’t believe in Praying for help from anyone else; including Angels, Mary, Joseph, Saints, Loved Ones in Heaven, etc. But the Gospel is full of examples of Angels acting in support of Jesus. They predicted His birth to Mary (Luke 1:30) and Joseph (Matthew 1:20), announced His birth to the shepherds (Luke 2:10), warned Joseph and Mary to go to Egypt (Matthew 2:19), ministered to Jesus at the beginning of His public ministry (Matthew 4:11) and at the end in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43), were ready to defend Jesus during His arrest (Matthew 26:53), rolled back the stone at the Resurrection (Matthew 28:2), announced the Resurrection to the world (Matthew 28:6), and were nearby at the Ascension while predicting His second coming (Acts 1:11). In fact, Jesus Himself taught that He would return accompanied by Angels (Matthew 25:31) and that Angels will be with Christ to carry out the final judgment (Matthew 13:39, 40). And, Angels come in nine (9) different shapes and sizes, as well, and are classified into three (3) Spheres; including the First Sphere (Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones), the Second Sphere (Dominions/Lordships, Virtues/Strongholds, Powers/Authorities), and the Third Sphere (Principalities/Rulers, Archangels, Angels). There is a Good reason that Angels are referenced in the Gospel – especially around challenging seasons for us like Lent. Angels are here to help us, but, far too often, many don’t cry out for their help, too. Our Guardian Angels are always at our sides, but they are just one of an infinite number of Heavenly Hosts who are ready to help us in our efforts to get Home to Heaven. While the Holy Trinity is the focus of our Worship, the Angels are our Heavenly Allies in a fallen world. And, just like how they Ministered to Jesus, they are happy to Minister to us, too… They only need to get the Call from us…
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
All of us know at least one person who just can’t keep a secret. For some of us, it might be us!? When we press someone as to “why” they couldn’t keep the secret, they usually say something along the lines that the secret was just too good to keep to themself. Isn’t that what happened in the Gospel here? When Jesus heals the leper in the Gospel of Mark, He specifically tells the leper, “see that you tell no one anything”. But how could the leper keep a secret this Good all to himself? As a leper, he would have been exiled (perhaps for years) from his Family, community, etc. Leprosy brought about a horrible existence for most without the most basic human element of all; touch. This reminds me of a time when our Son was two or three years of age and I bought him “Underoos”. Some might recall that “Underoos” were a t-shirt and underwear combo that usually had some kind of children’s character on them. And, the ones that I had purchased were of Superman. My Wife thought I had lost my mind and was frivolously-spending money. I simply told her to just wait until we gave them to him later that evening. Our Son was pretty excited about the “Underoos” when he saw the packaging. And, then, he put them on… BAM! Superman ran around our house for about 20 minutes up and down the stairs, in and out of the kitchen, and right up until the “Boy of Steel” had expended all of his energy. My Wife had never seen anything like that. I’m guessing that the leper kind of felt that same little boy inside of him coming out in exuberating fashion. He just couldn’t contain himself. Like a puppy unleashed in a yard full of freshly-fallen snow, he shot out across the town singing the Praises of Jesus. Jesus knew what the leper would do even before the leper did it. The leper here should serve as an example to all of us of the life-transforming Power of the Almighty God. So, let’s be transfigured by the King of kings and bring that contagious energy to as many people as we can in what little time that we all have left.
On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
Jesus was healing people and performing Miracles publicly from the wedding feast at Cana right through until His Ascension to Heaven. Saint John puts it this way in John 21:25, “There are many more things that Jesus did. If all of them were written down, I suppose that not even the world itself would have space for the books that would be written.” Jesus went door-to-door, town-to-town, village-to-village, and person-to-person to Heal as many as He physically could in the little time that He had with us all here while He was in the flesh. But He’s never really stopped Healing us. His Healing Hands are reaching out to us all each and every day and all that we need to do is to grasp them. By taking Jesus into our lives (and into our hearts), the real Healing that we need can begin and, eventually, be successfully-completed. Medics in the military heal many a fallen soldier; often healing their wounds enough for them to carry on with the battle and, eventually, to get them back home safe. And, back Home safe is where we want to be with Jesus. So, let’s be sure to remember to call His Name to allow our Ultimate Healer jump into the trenches of our lives and do what only He can do.
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he 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 rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Demons are unclean spirits that have fallen with satan from Grace and Heaven when St. Michael the Archangel defeated them (along with God’s Army of Angels). In other words, these unclean spirits lost the biggest battle of their Spiritual lifetimes – and, they lost Heaven and gained hell. While the stories about what Heaven (from both Scripture and first-hand accounts of those of us who’ve had a brief moment(s) There) are commonly-shared often to reactions of awe and wonder, while the stories about hell are not commonly-shared. The Truth is that far too many of us only want to talk about the Good Guys and what Eternity Promises to us all. Very few people talk openly about the bad guys and what demons and hell are actually like. But those stories are there for us to see, as well. One Man talked about both for 3 years with as many people as came to hear Him. Not only did He talk “about” demons, He also spoke “with” demons. And, He spoke about hell and the “wailing and gnashing” of teeth. And, His Name is Jesus. People are motivated by two things – either moving towards pleasure or moving away from pain. So, why do we often only focus on half of the equation? When we’re called to a real, earthly battle, do we just focus on how shiny our own swords are or how brilliant our armor is? No. While we gear-up and prepare accordingly, we also study and strategize around our opponents; we look to understand our enemies, foes, competitors, rivals, etc. in almost every aspect of our lives. We must be just as prudent to not let fear and ignorance fuel our lukewarm approach to our Spiritual Battles – Battles that are raging each and every day in our lives and that will cost us Everything in Eternity. While it’s Infinitely-important to know Jesus, it is paramount that we know who satan and his demons are and how they operate. St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:10-18 that we must “be strong in the Lord and in His Mighty Power” and “put on the full armor of God, so that [we] can take [our] stand against the devil’s schemes.” Check-out any image of St. Michael the Archangel and you’ll get the point…and, it’s never, ever too early or late to Prepare for the Way of the Lord!
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.
There’s a wonderful Church hymn that goes, “Would you come and follow me if I but called your name?” For those who have heard or sung it, you might know that it’s a wonderful song coming from Jesus to each and every one of us. While Jesus walked through the cities and towns of His day Calling many to follow Him, repent of their sinful ways, and to love God and others with all of their minds, hearts, and Souls, He didn’t stop walking the earth after He ascended to Heaven. In fact, He still walks our cities, towns, villages, provinces, states, countries, homes, jobs, schools, etc. today. Each and every day. He is walking this world right next to each and every one of us. Even when we don’t realize (or forget) that He’s right there…always… So, like the Apostles who would become Fishers of Men, let us, too, heed His call and leave our nets and follow the King of kings. For it is still the time of fulfillment and we are all walking with Jesus in the Living Word along the last pages of the Bible. And, this Walk will lead us all Home with Him.
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —, “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.
Most of us have many different names and things that we are called in this life. We, of course, have our formal names given to us at birth by others. We are often called Family names like brother, sister, son, daughter, cousin, aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, etc. We are sometimes called by our Trade names like plumber, realtor, contractor, accountant, teacher, Pastor, etc. We are sometimes called by our Relationship names like friend, colleague, neighbor, member, etc. You get that point… There are all kinds of names that we will get called in this life, but, a funny thing could happen to us when we finally arrive Home in Heaven. Jesus, like He did with St. Peter (and countless others), might just decide to change our names when He greets us on the Other Side. It’s amazing to think that not only will we getting new bodies in Heaven, but we might also be getting new names!? And, like with St. Peter (whose name also means ‘the rock’), our names in Heaven will have lots of meanings. So, we should all look forward to what lies ahead and not be too concerned about what lies behind. By keeping our focus on Him and eventually arriving Home one day, our actions in this life will follow that ‘focus’ and allow us to live the lives that He had planned for us before we were ever formed in a womb.
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Eyewitnesses are a direct part of the chain of evidence in any situation. Without an eyewitness, it’s hard to fully-corroborate what actually happened in a situation. The essence of this point is captured in the famous question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” For those folks present when Jesus was Baptized in the Jordan, seeing “the Heavens torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon Jesus with a Voice coming from Heaven saying, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased’” would have been an Incredible Sight to witness first-hand. Folks would be hard-pressed to dispel the Truth of Jesus’ Baptism if they were listening to eyewitness testimonies (and lots of them). Throughout His-story, the Evidence surrounding Jesus, God, Scripture, etc. is overwhelming and unmatched. And, just like not being in the forest when the tree falls to know that it made a noise, we don’t need to be wading in the Jordan during Jesus’ Baptism to know that the Holy Spirit came down like a dove and God spoke from Heaven. We can rely 100% on the Eyewitness Testimonies in Scripture. If we ever find ourselves questioning the authenticity of God’s Word, we can instantly bring ourselves back to Him with a couple of simple questions. If the Word is untrue, then why did most of the Apostles go to vicious deaths if they could have just rescinded that Jesus Christ was Risen? Why do ~160,000 Christians per year go to their deaths (usually brutally) for their Faith in Christ if it’s all just a fable? Any honest look at the Evidence of the Word brings us all to one and only one conclusion. God is real and Jesus Christ came, died, and rose again to Redeem our Souls (John 3:16). The Evidence for God never lies…
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.” Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
We are all gifted with a past, a present, and a future. The Magi from the East knew this well – it’s one of the reasons “why” they traveled for months to see the Newborn King (who was promised in the Scriptures and the skies above them). It is believed that the Magi here were descendants of the Prophet Daniel who had decided to stay in the East and establish a Davidic Seminary there even after many Jews had returned home to Jerusalem (after the Babylonian exile). The Magi here would have known the history (the past) of the Jewish nation, as well as its present. But assuming that they were Disciples of Daniel, they would have also known the Messianic Prophesies for the future King of Israel Whose Kingdom would last on into Eternity. The same past, present, and future that drove them literally to Bethlehem is the same past, present, and future that drove Mary and Joseph to Joseph’s (and King David’s) hometown, too. Again, we all have pasts, presents, and futures. We, too, are being “Driven” by the Lord based on both His past, present, and future and our own pasts, presents, and futures. The Power of the Infinite Holy Spirit uses the same Spiritual Network (our Souls) through each and every one of us throughout His-story to bring us, too, to Bethlehem. For many of us, our pasts aren’t laced with “Goodness”. Our pasts are never “Perfect”. But, just like the Prophets, Apostles, and Disciples of “old”, we must allow the Holy Spirit to leverage our pasts to help move us forward through our presents and into our Futures – an Eternity with God in Heaven. We all see the Signs like the Magi and our Holy Family did. The Journey wasn’t easy for any of them and It promises to be difficult for us, as well. But the Destination brings about an Eternal Encounter with Jesus and that makes any Journey worth it.