Bennochy Windows

Weekly Thoughts (February 2021)


Week of Monday 22nd February 2021

Mark 1 9-15. The Baptism and Testing of Jesus

9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

Jesus Announces the Good News

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Few of us remember our baptisms: if we are lucky, there might be a photo of a baby, boy or girl, wearing what appears to be a long dress, carried by a woman, who is not the mother, but godmother of the child. But it was an important day in our lives, a beginning of a spiritual journey which has run parallel to our physical one.

In contrast, it would be hard to forget the events surrounding Jesus baptism, which are pretty spectacular, a rollercoaster really. He comes from the nowhere of Nazareth, is affirmed as the Son of God, disappears for six weeks, then returns to be the public face of a religious revolution, urging people to “change their ways.”

Reading this, we can look back and be thankful for everyone who has travelled with us on our physical and spiritual journeys. We can look back and be thankful for Jesus and his revelation of the Good News.

But today, now, as we dare to hope that in 40 days or so we might come out of our pandemic wilderness, it might be time to reaffirm the commitment made for us at our baptism and make it our own, by changing our ways and sharing the Good News with others?

Prayer

Father God, as part of your family, we thank you for declaring your love for us.

Jesus, Son of God, be with us when we too are tempted.

Holy Spirit, as we begin to see a way out of our pandemic wilderness, inspire us to share the Good News with others. Amen.

Nancy Gilmartin

Week of Monday 15th February 2021

Mark 9: 2-9 The Transfiguration

2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

I suspect many of us - especially over the last year- can identify with Peters bewildered reaction to the Transfiguration:

“He did not know what to say- they were so frightened.” (verse 6).

Previously, in Mark 8, Peter has declared that Jesus is the Messiah, and now, given proof of this, he is overwhelmed, terrified. We recognise, perhaps more than ever because of COVID, a very human reaction to what is essentially a glimpse of something totally beyond what we were expecting.

Knowing Jesus has just opened up a whole new world, for Peter-and us- another level of existence and it is scary.

One message from this puzzling passage might be that to follow Jesus will lead Peter, and the other disciples - and us too- into new experiences well out of our comfort zone and control. As we struggle with all that life and living throws at us, there will be times when we too will feel frightened and do not know what to say or do.

And even though, like the disciples, we might believe that Jesus is with us, always, there are no easy answers.

Prayer

Father God, be with us when we are faced with experiences that puzzle us and make us question everything, we thought we knew so well.

Jesus, Son of God, be with us when we are faced with difficult times and choices.

Holy Spirit, be with us as we try to understand what God wants us to do. Amen

Nancy Gilmartin

Week of Monday 8th February 2021

Mark 1 29-39

29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand, and helped her up. The fever left her, and she began to wait on them.

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he travelled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.

This reading, like so much of Mark’s Gospel, seems to take place in a hurry: Jesus is scarcely back from the Synagogue, when there is a private healing of Peter’s mother-in-law; the minute the sun goes down, and Sabbath ends, there is a public healing of all who arrive at Peter’s door.

But, in contrast to the urgency of the day’s events, to enable all this, Jesus then shows his need for time apart to pray: it seems, without praying, without recharging the spiritual battery so to speak, there can be no preaching or healing.

And if Jesus needs to balance the needs of others, with time for him to give and receive strength from God to continue, then we do too? Can lockdown be a challenge to pray more, while we are restricted in what we can do?

Prayer

Father God, hear our prayers.

Jesus, Son of God, teach us how to pray.

Holy Spirit, inspire us to pray for ourselves and others. Amen.

Nancy Gilmartin

Week of Monday 1st February 2021

Mark 1:21-27

21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.”

We know that during these Covid lockdowns, the mental health of many people has been badly affected. This passage describes a moment with which we might identify. And though today, we might blame them on demons, many of us have had moments when we have shouted- or wanted to shout- out loud: at the News on TV...at politicians...at our nearest and dearest...at the unfairness of it all...at God?

Perhaps, then, during lockdown, for a moment or more, we may have been given a glimpse at the precarious but precious hold we have on our lives? Perhaps, for a moment, in our temporary lack of control over our way of living, we have been reminded of our ultimate dependence on God? And hopefully, perhaps we might be prompted in a new way, to pray “deliver us from evil” for ourselves and others?

Father God, deliver the world you made and hold in being, from every kind of evil.

Jesus, Son of God, help us to believe and trust in your power over every kind of evil.

Holy Spirit inspire us to pray for ourselves and others, that we may be delivered from every evil. Amen.

Nancy Gilmartin




Read our Thoughts for January 2021 ...