26 Sunday B

From the Connections:
As we have seen throughout Mark’s Gospel, the people of Jesus’ time held great stock in the existence of demons: whatever mental illness or physical infirmity they could not understand was caused by some “demon.”  It was also the belief that a demon could be exorcised if one could invoke the name of a still more powerful spirit to order the evil and unclean spirit out of a person.

25 Sunday B

Fr. James Gillhooley:
Pain sometimes can be the making of us. Beethoven is the classic example. Deafness hit him as a young man. It did not sit well with the young Ludwig. As a consequence, this period of his life was not distinguished. But once he had come to accept it, his genius bloomed. Arguably his Ninth Symphony is the most beautiful work of music ever written. If Beethoven had written nothing else, the Ninth would have won him immortality. Yet, the night he conducted the symphony for the first time, he could not hear a bar of his music. Nor could he hear the wild applause that greeted its debut. Yet, he sensed his labor was a triumph. 

24 Sunday B


In today’s Gospel, Peter is a model of vacillating faith – a model that typifies our own reaction to the call to discipleship.
Caesar Philippi was a bazaar of worship places and temples, with altars erected to every concept of the divinity from the gods of Greece to the godhead of Caesar.  Amid this marketplace of gods, Jesus asks Peter and the Twelve,  “Who do people say that I am? . . . Who do you say that I am?”  This is a turning point in Mark's Gospel:  Until now, Mark's Jesus has been reluctant to have people believe in him only because of his miracles.  Jesus talks, for the first time in Mark’s Gospel, about dark things ahead: rejection, suffering, death and resurrection (concepts that the disciples are unable to grasp).

23 Sunday B

From the Connections:

Ephphatha “Be opened!”
Isaiah’s vision of a Messiah who would come with hope and healing (today’s first reading) is realized in this episode from Mark’s Gospel: the deaf hear, the silent are given voice, the lame “leap like a stag.”  The exhortation Ephphatha! is not only addressed to the man born deaf but to his disciples both then and now who fail to hear and see and speak the presence of God in their very midst.
The Aramaic phrase ephphatha literally means “be released” – Jesus “releases” the man not only from his disability but from his sins, his isolation from the community, his alienation from God.
Jesus’ curing of the deaf man with spittle (which, in Jesus’ time, was considered curative) is an act of re-creation.  God’s reign is present in human history in the extraordinary ministry of Jesus.  Throughout Mark’s Gospel, Jesus insists that his healings be kept quiet in order that his full identity be revealed and understood only in the light of his cross and resurrection.

22 Sunday B

From the Connections:
Today’s Gospel returns to Mark’s story of the Christ event with a confrontation that Mark’s first Christian readers knew all too well.  A contentious debate raged in the early Church as to whether or not Christians should continue to observe the practices of Judaism.  Jesus challenges the scribes’ insistence that faithfulness to ceremonial washings and other rituals constitutes complete faithfulness to the will of God.  He scandalizes his hearers by proclaiming “nothing that enters a man from outside can make him impure; that which comes out of him, and only that, constitutes impurity.”  It is the good that one does motivated by the spirit of the heart that is important in the eyes of God, not how scrupulously one keeps the laws and rituals mandated by tradition.