The Gospel According to Mark 1: 12-15 by Sister Yvette Demers, SP, Vice Postulator of the Emilie Gamelin Cause – Sunday February 18, 2018
At once the Spirit drove him 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.”
On this first Sunday of Lent, St. Mark in his Gospel (1:12-15) reminds us that after his baptism, Jesus was driven out into the desert by the Spirit.
Before beginning his “public life”, Jesus needed silence; he needed to be heart to heart with his Father who would ask him later to sacrifice his life to “heal” humanity.
Any human life gets moments of doubt, hours of anxiety, misunderstanding, and only a deep FAITH, the certainty of following in Jesus’ footsteps, will bring light and give enough strength to keep going on until the end.
175 years ago, a woman let herself be driven by the Spirit without knowing exactly where it would take her. Her name was Emilie Tavernier Gamelin and she was born on February 19, 1800, in Montreal.
Wife and mother of three, in less than five years, she lost her most precious treasures: her husband and her three sons. She was only 28 years old. Why these losses? In prayer and reflection at the foot of the Cross with our Mother of Sorrows, she found her way: her husband and her children would be all those who are oppressed by misery. She went into action with no further delay.
For fifteen years, this woman responded to the charism that our Provident God had confided to her. With a group of “ladies of charity”, she criss-crossed the city of Montreal, reaching out to meet the many needs of the people of that time. But Monsignor Bourget, Bishop of Montreal, in order to ensure the permanence of this charitable work, wished to entrust it to a religious congregation. Emilie was at a crossroads. What would she do? Would she hand over to the Bishop her work, which had just received approval as a civil corporation on September 18, 1841. Prayer and reflection were again her reference points… And, always attentive and faithful to grace, she would continue to serve the poor for the rest of her life, under the authority of the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity who were soon to arrive from France. She trusted her Bishop and she began to help him prepare for the arrival of the French sisters.
However, “God’s plans are not our plans.” Mgr. Bourget was notified that the Daughters of Charity would not be able to come. Having reached an impasse, he invited Mrs. Gamelin to pray with him. After praying together for an hour, it was decided that Bishop Bourget would invite young women to form a new Canadian congregation. This new congregation was established on March 25, 1843.
Then it was that Emilie felt the Spirit calling her to dedicate her entire self to God through religious life. She shared this desire with Mgr. Bourget who hesitated at first. She repeated her desire, she prayed and she received a positive response from the Bishop. This response confirmed for her that her desire was God’s will. She became a Daughter of Charity, Servant of the Poor, Sister of Providence.
The Gospel According to Mark 1: 40-45 by Sister Hélène Mamert Nga Amogo, SP – Sunday February 11, 2018
A leper came to him [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. Then 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.
Let myself be transformed by a personal encounter with Jesus in the poor with whom I meet daily
The quote from Mark’s Gospel that has been chosen for our meditation on this 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time of liturgical year B, presents a man affected with leprosy, a disease that, according to Jewish tradition, was considered to be impure. Social marginalization came on top of this suffering. So here was a man doubly burdened but still desiring to recover his human and social dignity. He began a journey of faith which led him to the one for whom he was looking, the best physician ever: Jesus. His initiative conveyed his longing for healing. He first went to Jesus, kneeled down and begged him: “If you wish, you can make me clean.” By his actions, we can see his faith in Jesus. And he asked for something more: purification. He wanted to be purified. He expressed his need for physical healing and also his need for spiritual healing. This is what struck Jesus who took action with no delay; moved by compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand, touched the man and said to him: “I do will it. Be made clean.” With this concrete action, Jesus eliminated the gap between the leprous man and himself. He gave to the man the dignity he had lost. The newly healed leper could not restrain himself, in spite of Jesus’ recommendation about keeping his personal experience to himself.
Isn’t the anonymity of this leper a reflection of each of us who are invited to seek for Jesus and to cry out to Him our deep longing for the healing of the fragility and limitations that are keeping us from being the best persons we are called to be and from offering our unique gifts. The journey of this leper challenges every Christian, and each one of us, Sisters of Providence, to personally experience an encounter with Christ, because we all have need of his tenderness. This leper met the Lord for whom he was looking, and he was found by this same Lord who was also looking for him. This man was humble, confident and convinced in his hope and in his search.
For 175 years, we Sisters of Providence have been seeking this Lord daily. Do we not see today the concern of our master Jesus? He hastens to do good and shows the same compassion He demonstrated toward the leper. With a look, He broke the barrier, He transgressed the rule of isolation imposed on the lepers and his concrete gestures demonstrated the love He had for this person and for all. He touched the leper and talked to him without fear of contagion. Faith is a risk, but it is one worth choosing. Blessed Emilie Gamelin took the risk, as did all the sisters who have preceded them for 175 years. Today, with this Gospel we, Sisters of Providence, are invited to let ourselves be urged by the charity of Christ, everywhere and in all.
We all are disciples of Christ. May his grace, working in us and through us, draw us continually closer to Him that we may act as He did, in all humility, simplicity and charity!
Providence of God, I thank you for all!
The Gospel According to Mark 1: 29-39
The Cure of Simon’s Mother-in-Law
“29 On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. 31 He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. 32 When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. 33 The whole town was gathered at the door. 34 He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. 35 Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and those who were with him pursued him 37 and on finding him said, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ 38 He told them: ‘Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.’ 39 And Jesus went throughout Galilee; he preached in the synagogues, and cast out demons.”
Reflection on the Sunday Gospel, February 4, 2018, by Gladys Flores, SP
“They immediately told the Lord that Simon’s mother-in-law was lying down with fever.” Presenting ill persons to the Lord in prayer and trusting that He will heal them is a good habit we must practice. We have to be persistent in prayer and not lose the hope that we will be healed in body and spirit by the Lord of life.
And Jesus, in the family atmosphere of Simon’s home, was immediately interested in Simon’s mother-in-law and healed her. He was never too tired to help and acted without delay in the face of the people’s needs, for He is the great Restorer.
Simon’s mother-in-law stood and waited on them; i.e., once she recovered her health and dignity, she began to serve because Jesus not only healed a person, but He made it so that the person could place herself at the service of others.
When serving the Lord, this woman was only employing for Him the energy that He had granted her.
Not only has the Lord freed us from many bad things, but He has given us gifts we must use to serve Him and our brothers and sisters.
Let us meditate on the question that Pope Francis asked during his gathering with the Chilean youth in the Maipú Sanctuary: “‘What do I have to offer in life?’ And many of you feel the desire to say: ‘I don’t know.’ You do not know what you have to contribute? You have it in your inner self, but you do not know what it is. Hurry to find it, then you can contribute. The world needs you, your homeland needs you and the society needs you. You have something to contribute…”
The Gospel According to Mark 1: 21-28
“[Jesus and his disciples] came to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath he 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. ”
The reflections of Annette Aspirot, SP, on the Gospel of Sunday January 28, 2018:
Jesus taught with authority. This expression is really touching. That this man taught with authority, we can find manifold proofs in the Gospels: ‘Never before has anyone spoken like this one.’ Jn 7:46. ‘Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.’ Luke 6:19. Jesus won over the crowd, not only with the healings he performed, but also with the power of his Word; not only with his saying, but also with his look, his attitude and the dignity of his person. He listened to people, attended to the poor, took an interest in their everyday life, ate with them, and cried with them. What He said jibed with the truth.
Mark added that He did not teach as the scribes did. The priests and the scribes, guardians of the Word, announced the coming of the Messiah, but they did not recognize Him in Jesus. The sight of his miracles exasperated them. However, those who heard Him said: “He really is the prophet we expected.” The members of the synagogue of Capernaum were facing a somewhat confusing situation. Jesus’ speech contrasted with what they were used to hearing.
The man tormented by an unclean spirit was unsettled by the presence of Jesus. This possessed man revealed the holiness of Jesus, because the devil spoke through his mouth. This devil felt threatened, unmasked. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?”
There is not much of a difference between the reaction of this possessed man and the reaction of those who give themselves over to corrupt business where lies, ambition for profit and injustice reign supreme. They are afraid of getting caught, being denounced or having to admit their deceitful behaviour. They wish to remain in oblivion in order to continue their diabolical demeanour. It rewards them. They pile up earthly treasures that will be destroyed by rust.
The authority of Jesus is liberating, illuminating. When we hear the teaching of a God-loving person, this person teaches with authority because God is speaking through his/her words. Have we not already heard of holy witnesses of the Word? They share what they live. This happens because the Divine announces itself through human words.
We bear witness by being who we are. Our testimony is worth it, valuable because of how we live. We teach with our attitude, with the quality of our presence, with our intimacy with the One we want to make known. How do we bear witness to our Providence Mission? To what extent are we human faces of Divine Providence? The Gospel of Mark is an invitation to let Jesus come to us, to be penetrated by his presence and liberating voice, and to be authentic apostles of the Good News. This way, we will amass imperishable treasures.