Monday of 3rd Week of the Year, January 23, 2023

Once for all, Jesus offered himself, and there came, negatively, the forgiveness of sins, and positively, the new covenant, the new and permanent union of life and love with God. Once and for all, never to be repeated.
It is strange and really sounds like ill will when the Scribes ascribe the good that Jesus does, especially that he drives out demons, to the power of Satan, the prince of demons. Should they not have recognized that God’s Spirit was working in Jesus? In messianic times, the Jews expected the Spirit of God to overcome the spirits of evil, and in Jesus, the good Spirit was visibly active. We too have to make our option between God’s Spirit and the spirits of evil that make us sin. If we hear the word of God and act accordingly, we let God’s Spirit overcome evil in and around us.

Opening Prayer
God our Father,
you are the origin of all that is good.
Let our heart not be a house divided
between good and evil.
Send us your good Spirit
to enlighten and guide us,
to give us joy and strength
and to follow your Son wherever he leads us
on the road of goodness and service.
We ask you this in the name of Jesus, the Lord. Amen!

1 Reading HEBREWS 9:15, 24-28
Christ is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance. For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice. Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Responsorial PSALM 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6
R. (1a) Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm. R.

The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel. R.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise. R.

Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD. R.

Alleluia cf, 2 TIMOTHY 1:10
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ has destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MARK 3:22-30
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Heaven or the kingdom of God is a state of bliss. Thinking of it should fill the human mind with peace and joy, yet that is not always the case. The presence of Jesus in the world is a visible sign of the kingdom of God, yet, not all who saw and listened to Jesus, went home happy. Maybe they could not allow Jesus to be Jesus in their lives. Any Jesus that did not fit their preconceived ideas does not count. Hence, they missed out on the blessings that Jesus brings. The attitude we bring into things matters. In this life you cannot think negatively and expect to reap a positive result. How often have I thought of the second coming of Jesus as a horrible day of judgment? This sounds scary and evokes fear and trepidation. The author of the letter to the Hebrews paints a different picture of the second coming of Jesus by presenting it as the day that God will “bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him”.

– That all the Churches that believe in Christ may overcome their division and become one in the Lord, who brought them pardon and peace, we pray:
– That all those who are hardened by sin may be touched by the Spirit of the Lord to repent and to change their ways, we pray:
– That our communities may accept those who have erred, defend the weak and the victims of injustice and bear witness to the mercy of God, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
bread and wine are the simple signs
whereby your Son makes himself present
to the people you have chosen.
Fill these offerings with your Spirit,
that they may become your Son.
Fill us with the same Holy Spirit,
that he makes us the people
that belongs to you and serves you.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen!

Prayer after Communion
God our Father,
through your Holy Spirit,
we have heard the words of your Son.
Let them become, through the same Spirit
words that set us afire
with zeal for your kingdom
and with love for one another.
Let it be a fire that cannot be extinguished.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!

A country or a family or a community that is divided cannot stand. We should all be led by the same Spirit. That does not mean that we all have to be the same like clones, for the Spirit is rich enough with his variety of gifts. May God pour out his good Spirit on us and bless us, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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