Wednesday after Epiphany

Mark’s account of Jesus walking on the water and calming the storm is intriguing in today’s Gospel because it continues the account seen in yesterday‘s Gospel regarding the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Yesterday the story begins with Our Lord looking down compassionately on the crowds and wanting to provide for their needs. Today he sends the disciples across the sea, but even when he stays behind and goes off to pray he is keeping an eye on them. He sees them in difficulty and plans just “to pass by them”: was this a test? What was he expecting from the disciples?

In the end, when everything had settled down, Mark recalls that they had not understood the incident of the loaves and for that reason they were shocked by what had just happened. Perhaps Our Lord expected more faith and trust, and thought that just by passing by them on the water, after he’d just performed the miracle of the multiplication, they’d recognize him and his power and not be afraid. Instead, due to their ignorance and hardened hearts, they didn’t recognize him out on the water and panicked more, thinking death was near. Sometimes it’s easier to recognize Our Lord at work at calm moments and in broad daylight, but in turbulent and dark times we need a more robust faith that believes he is at work even when it’s not clear to us.

Before Our Lord’s Incarnation and birth mankind was in darkness and on stormy waters, and we’d only retained a faint awareness of God’s presence, but as something unsure and at a distance. In becoming flesh Our Lord has gotten into the boat of life with us. He’s still close. Let’s open our hearts to him and foster the faith that helps us see him at work.

Readings: 1 John 4:11–18; Psalm 72:1–2, 10, 12–13; Mark 6:45–52. See also 13th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.

Tuesday after Epiphany

Today’s Gospel reminds us why Christmas happened at all. The compassionate gaze of Our Lord is the same as the one he had from Heaven when he saw his creation lost and disoriented by sin, hungering for meaning in their lives. Even now back at the Father’s right hand he directs that same compassionate gaze toward us. Maybe we don’t see him seated before us and teaching us, speaking quietly to his disciples and asking them to take care of us too, but in every celebration of the Eucharist the same thing happens.

In parishes and chapels throughout the world we all form small groups of believers, but all those groups are gathered around Christ, who through the Blessed Sacrament is able to be with all of us. The Word of God is read and its meaning explained by bishops, priests, and deacons who’ve been entrusted with continuing Our Lord’s mission to preach the Gospel and to care for his flock. Simple bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, the Bread of Life that eventually will end all hunger in us and satisfies our deepest needs.

A few days of the Christmas season remain. Let’s show our gratitude for Our Lord’s compassion by being his instruments of compassion to those we know who are in spiritual or material need.

Readings: 1 John 4:7–10; Psalm 72:1–2, 3–4, 7–8; Mark 6:34–44. See also 1st Week of Advent, Wednesday and 2nd Week of Easter, Friday.

Monday after Epiphany

The readings in this last week of the Christmas season bask in the glow of Christ as the light of the nations, something underscored on the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. In today’s Gospel John the Baptist’s mission is ending and Our Lord’s is beginning, but they are one and the same: to preach conversion and faith because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. John prepared the way; now the Lord has come.

John preached conversion and faith to people who knew in their hearts that it was needed, not just for the world, but for them. The Lord’s phase of the mission is not just characterized by awakening consciences, but by showing the power of God. People not only received teaching and the Gospel, but physical healing to show the power of repentance and faith. Just as John had told the Pharisees, priests, and elders, they hadn’t seen anything yet. Now the Lord had come and proved John’s words were true.

If you didn’t live Advent well, it’s not too late to have Our Lord come with power into your life for Christmas and the new year. Clear a path for him in your heart and he will come and transform it.

Readings: 1 John 3:22–4:6; Psalm 2:7bc–8, 10; Matthew 4:12–17, 23–25.