Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

One and all

by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register

(From the January 19, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

Father Michael Savelesky With great spiritual wisdom, right after the beautiful and emotion-laden celebration of the Great Christmas Feast, the Church begins a fresh trek of discipleship, urging us to follow once again the footsteps of Jesus. The journey begins anew for any and all who seek to learn from him the Good News of Godís kingdom. If we have celebrated Christmas well, we will be equally well prepared for this refreshed journey of spiritual growth.

This year as we re-enter Ordinary Time on our liturgical calendar, on a daily basis we follow Jesus by the light of the Gospel according to the evangelist, Mark. The experts tell us that his was the first Gospel to be written Ė and that it is not a biography as much as a catechetical instruction regarding the Man from Galilee and his role in the salvation of the world.

Markís Gospel is fast-paced, but even after the first chapter of his narrative a pattern already is apparent. Jesus announces the transforming presence of Godís Kingdom. Its power is manifest in the casting forth of demons and a variety of physical healings. Through his Son, the Word Incarnate, God clearly is re-establishing the original goodness of creation and setting his followers in right relationship with the God who loves and saves unconditionally. Equally apparent is the pattern of response on the part of people to the Lordís work.

As Markís Gospel unfolds page by page, note the attention Jesus gives to the rejected, the poor, the powerless and the dispossessed. Women seem to play a significant role in this regard, presenting lessons in Christian discipleship. The lesson is to be found in the poor widow with her mite; the woman toting the jar of ointment; the women at the cross; the women at the tomb.

The contemporary mind may be tempted into thinking that Jesus merely is siding with women out of what we contemporaries call ďpolitical correctnessĒ Ė as if they were the underdogs of his time. Or that he is choosing sides in the feminist debate which so often is misrepresented nowadays. Or that he is championing the equality of women. All of these perspectives, important as they are in the contemporary mind, actually are distant from Markís focus Ė or, for that matter, Jesus himself.

In Markís Gospel women are the measure of the extent to which the Gospel is proclaimed and how one should appropriately respond to it. Jesus announces the Good News to one and all. His Gospel is inclusive, but it is so by Godís choice. It is founded on a love deeper than one based on human rights or social status. Everyone is privileged to receive of Godís unconditional love and transforming grace mediated through Jesus.

It is true that in Jesusí day (as well as our own, unfortunately) women all too often were ostracized, abused and rejected. But arenít we all at one time or another in our lives? Perhaps this is one of the key points Mark makes in his Gospel account. We, the Gentiles, the distant people of the world, are brought very close in Christ. The Gospel is truly a free gift Ė for one and all. And if this gift is for everyone to receive, it is there for our personal receiving, too. One of our greatest temptations is to think that Godís active and saving presence is a gift for someone else, and not us personally and individually. Entering into our personal realm of put-down, we always think someone else more deserving or more capable of dealing with Godís amazing grace. But why not us?

All those women in Markís Gospel are reminders of the emptiness with which we must receive the Good News Ė as compete and pure gift. It is not earned, merited or deserved. It is not a collaborative effort under our control. It is grace. Each of us in included in Godís plan, male or female. Just as resistance to Godís love knows no gender, neither does its acceptance.

(Father Savelesky is the diocese's Director of Deacon Formation and pastor of Assumption Parish in Spokane.)

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