As Jesus teaches the crowds, some of His male kin (“brethren”- relatives of Joseph and Mary from Nazareth), concerned about Jesus’ well-being and the family’s reputation, seek to seize Christ and bring Him back to the simple life in Nazareth (Mark 3:21). They are joined by the Blessed Virgin Mary who attempts to draw near to Him but the crowds are so great. Mary’s message, perhaps relayed through the crowd, is used by Christ to teach the crowd.  His spontaneous response is powerful: all men and women who do the will of God are His family, and each are related in the Spirit to each other. It is a beautiful proclamation to those hurting, isolated and longing for love; it also is a rebuke to Christ’s male kin who seek to deter Him from His mission.

Some mistakenly interpret this event as Christ acting in a callous and divisive way to Our Lady. Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Christ, the Perfection of God, perfectly keeps all the laws, including the 4th Commandment to “Honor your father and mother…” Christ, Person of the Trinity, lovingly causes the Immaculate Conception of Mary and loves her deeply; Christ will crown Mary the Queen of Heaven.  As Christ reveals, she “ who does the will of the Father is His “mother”; Mary, in her Immaculate Conception,  perfectly does God’s will in her fiat (Luke 1:38). Mary is not shunned; she honored by the Son of God as the perfect example.

Some mistakenly use the reference to the “brethren” of Jesus as proof that Mary had other children; this is false.  As taught by the Church for 2000 years, Jesus was the only child of the Virgin Mary, who remained a virgin her entire life; Jesus had no blood brothers or sisters. A number of points support this truth. Because Hebrew had no word for “cousin”, the word “brethren” was used instead. The “brethren of Jesus” are never called the children of Mary but Jesus is clearly Mary’s son. James and Joseph, mentioned as brethren of Jesus, are actually the sons of another Mary (Matt 27:56). Jesus gives His mother Mary to His disciple John at the crucifixion; Jesus would not have chosen John if He had blood brothers to care for His Mother Mary.

Awed by Jesus ChristPerson of the Trinity, Christ causes the Immaculate Mother of Christ to be born and, Son of Mary,  loves Mary beyond measure.  Son of Man, Christ is the perfection of manhood who perfectly keeps the 4th Commandment to honor His father and mother. Divine Teacher, Christ spontaneously reacts with great wisdom to events, using them to further the explanation of the Gospel.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ’s infinite love of Mary cannot be fully grasped, for it is the perfection of love; marvel at the love of God who creates a perfect young women to be His mother and His consent to enter into her blessed womb. Review the Catechism’s introduction to the Virgin Mary (CCC 487-511) and grow in awe of her.

2) In God’s infinite wisdom, He desires that all men have the blessing of a mother (and father!).  Mothers, like all humans, are prone to sin and fail their children in various ways, sometimes causing deep wounds; and all mothers eventually die. In the Blessed Virgin, Christ has given the Church a perfect mother who never fails to love those who come to Her. Realize your deep need for Mary and grow in devotion to her (CCC 963-976), being a man who fulfills Mary’s prophecy, “All generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48).

3) With the rejection and breakdown of marriage, many mothers and fathers have failed to give their children the blessing of a stable home; many grown men struggle to fully respect and love thir parents. Renew your understanding of The 4th Commandment (Honor thy father and mother…CCC 2197-2257) and pray for Christ to help you to grow in love of your parents, whether living or dead.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Guardian Angels

Virtue of the Day – Justice

Corporal Work of Mercy – To clothe the naked

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To counsel the doubtful

 

While the multitude marvel, recently-arrived scribes from Jerusalem murmured among themselves, absurdly accusing Christ as colluding with Beelzebul; “Beelzebul” was a derogatory term (“Lord of Dung”) used by the Jews for the false god of the Philistines, who in reality is Satan.  With this slur, the scoffing scribes attempt to denigrate the Son of Man with a severe accusation which could be punished by stoning Him to death.

Knowing the the scribes are uttering evil to condemn Him, Christ brusquely summons and confronts them. Ironically, the scribes’ rejection of Jesus does the work of Satan and they are guilty of what they have accused Jesus. Revealing the absurdity of their murmured charge, Christ exposes their illogical accusation by pointing out that Satan does not attack Satan. Christ further explains in a parable: Satan (strong man), who is powerful, guards those he has corrupted (his goods) by enticements to sin. Only Christ is capable to bind Satan and rescue the possessed.

Christ then offers a dire warning to the scribes. He confirms the great blessing that God will forgive even insults against Him. Mysteriously revealing His divinity, Christ warns the scribes that their accusations that He is possessed by and cooperating with Satan, are blasphemous and unforgivable; this is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Some, who’s minds become so closed as to deny God or call Him evil, close themselves off to forgiveness; Christ is offering the scribes the mercy of a warning so that they might repent and be forgiven.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ confirms the existence and evil action of Satan in the world and some of the behaviors of demons who prowl the world. Christ is omniscience and “knows” the thoughts of men. Divine King, Christ rebukes His would-be attackers and challenges men to choose sides; either the Kingdom of Heaven or the kingdom of Satan. He easily exposes the lack of logic in the minds of His enemies. Divine Teacher, Christ reveals truths about the demonic using memorable examples (“the strong man”).

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1)  Despite being accused by the scribes of sins that could result in being stoned to death, marvel at Christ’s authoritative and courageous confrontation of the scribes.

2) Like the confused scribes, many Catholic men today are confused about Christ; some stop practicing the faith, some dabble in the occult, some have doubts and some deny God’s existence. Review the Church’s teaching about the 1st Commandment (CCC 2084-2141) and pray for Christ to help you grow in love for God.

3) As a man seeks to imitate Christ the Perfect Man, must strive to grow in virtue; the word “virtue” comes from the Latin root vir, meaning “man”. Reflect upon the Church’s teachings about virtue (CCC 1803-1845) and pray for Christ to help you grow in virtue.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Souls in Purgatory

Virtue of the Day – Prudence

Corporal Work of Mercy – To give drink to the thirsty

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To instruct the ignorant

Following the miraculous manifestation of God at Christ’s baptism and His grueling 40-day ordeal in the wilderness, Christ emerges from the wilderness and learns that John the Baptist has been arrested. Christ returns to the region of Galilee, first to His home-town of Nazareth and then relocates to the larger and more-important trading town of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee.

Christ’s choice to begin His public ministry in Galilee both fulfills past prophecy (Isaiah 8:23-9:1) and establishes future prophecy. Looking to the past, the land of Galilee was home to the ancient Jewish tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali which were the first to be exiled 800 years earlier; now this region is the first to be redeemed by Christ. Looking to the future, Christ is the great light who will call all men, including Gentiles to Christ’s Catholic Church.  In preparation, Christ urges all to repent and to prepare for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Christ’s calling of the first Apostles is stunning for a number of reasons.  Acting more as a King than a rabbi, Christ calls His men to Himself; traditionally, men would choose the rabbi they wished to follow. Rather than finding a following among the learned or well-connected, Christ calls ordinary working-class men. It is also striking that simply by Christ’s call, all four of these Apostles immediately follow, leaving their livelihoods and possessions (their nets and boats); remarkably, James and John even leave their father Zebedee.

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine Prophet, Christ fulfills ancient prophecy and through His words and actions sets future prophecy.  Son of God, Christ has an immediate life-changing impact on the Apostles. Son of Man, Christ has an undeniable charisma that appeals to men. Divine King, Christ selects, attracts and converts men to build His Church.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ makes the startling announcement that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, confirming that God is establishing His kingship over the world through Christ. Recalling that men pray “Thy Kingdom come…” in the Lord’s Prayer, refresh your understanding of the Kingdom and why it is important to your life (CCC 541-570).

2) Many men are “stuck” in their faith lives, failing to know how to move forward in faith. Christ gives a clear first step in the holy life: “Repent.” Review the Church’s teachings on repentance (CCC 1422-1498) and turn to Christ in the Sacrament of Confession.

3) Most Catholic men do not yet realize they are called, just like Christ’s call to the Apostles, to evangelize, to be “fishers of men.”  Update your understanding of your personal “prophetic office” (CCC 904-907) and pray for Christ to use you to build the Kingdom of Heaven.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity

Virtue of the Day – Charity

Corporal Work of Mercy – To feed the hungry

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To admonish the sinner

As Christ’s reputation grows through His preaching and many healing miracles, great crowds begin to follow Him, sometimes becoming dangerously enthusiastic (Mark 3:9). Christ begins to prepare for the worldwide Church by appointing the 12 apostles who can help in His ministry and who will be the foundation of Christ’s Catholic Church.

Christ leads the newly-appointed Apostles back to Simon-Peter’s house in the seaside city of Capernaum, Christ’s Galilean base of operations. The multitudes of sick and needy people realize that Christ has returned and they converge on Christ, overfilling Peter’s modest home. So great is the crush of humanity, including their cries for healing and need for food, that Christ and the disciples find it difficult to even share a meal.

Christ’s male relatives, probably from the extended families of both Joseph (Joseph is presumably no longer alive) and Mary, likely included uncles and older cousins (Christ, the only Son of the Virgin Mary, has no siblings). In the ancient Holy Lands, the bonds of kin were strong and relatives were obligated to protect their own and defend the honor of the family. Hearing of Christ’s growing following and the conflicts with Jewish leaders, His kin seek to “seize” (same word used for Christ’s arrest by the Jews) and return Him to the quiet work of a carpenter in Nazareth; His relatives believe that Christ is “out of His mind”, perhaps even thinking that Christ is demon-possessed.  Soon, the scribes will accuse Christ of being in league with Beelzebul (Satan).

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ attracts multitudes of people, desperate to draw close to Him. Divine Mercy, Christ welcomes and does not avoid crowds, offering His words and healing. Son of Man, Christ maintains a grueling schedule, working long hours and missing meals.  Son of Mary and Joseph, Christ belongs to an family with extended kin who do not fully understand Him.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Throughout His public ministry, Christ willingly accepted grueling  physical demands which included walking long distances, working at all hours of the day, sleeping in the elements and going hungry.  Recalling the Creed, reflect on the  Christ’s two natures as the Son of God and Son of Man and be awed (CCC 456-483).

2) Christ’s earthly family, confused about Christ’s identity, inadvertently opposes His building of the family of God in the Catholic Church (CCC 1). Pray for Christ to help you draw together in fraternity with other Catholic men as true brothers in the family of Christ.

3) Like Christ’s misguided kin, men often oppose Christ’s will in the way they live their lives, doing what they should not do and failing to do what they should do. Review the Church’s teaching on Sin (CCC 1846-1876) and pray for Christ’s help to turn from sin.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Virgin Mary

Virtue of the Day – Hope

Corporal Work of Mercy – To bury the dead

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To pray for the living and the dead

With momentum growing in His ministry and the battles with the Jewish leadership escalating, Christ moves to establish men who will be His leaders of the Catholic Church. After going up on a mountain for an all-night prayer vigil with the Father (Luke 6:12), Christ hand-selects 12 men to be His Apostles (meaning “to be sent”) from His growing group of disciples.  Christ exclusively chooses men to establish a new priesthood for His New Covenant and to underscore the essential role that men must play in the Church.

Each of these Apostles (excluding Judas), are patriarchs (“Fathers”) of the Church and will give their lives in the service of Christ. Simon Peter is the first pope, is the source for Mark’s Gospel, writes the Epistles of 1st and 2nd Peter and is martyred in Rome. James the Greater, the brother of John, was one of three of Christ’s inner circle (Peter, James and John) and was martyred in Jerusalem. John, part of Christ’s inner core, is directed by Christ to watch over the Virgin Mary, writes the Gospel of John, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John and Revelation; he is harassed and exiled to Patmos. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, evangelized Greeks and was crucified in Patras on an X-shaped cross. Philip evangelized in modern day Turkey and continued to preach as he was crucified upside down. Bartholomew (also called Nathanael) may have evangelized in India and was flayed (skinned) to death. Matthew wrote the first Gospel, preached to the Jews in Judea and was martyred in Italy. Thomas preached in India and was martyred by spear. James the Lesser was thrown from the Temple wall, stoned and clubbed to death. Thaddeus (also called Jude) evangelized in Syria and was killed with an axe.  Simon Cananaean (also the Zealot) may have evangelized in Britain and Spain and was sawn in half.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of the Father, Christ prays a all night long prayer vigil as He prepares to call the Apostles. Son of Man, Christ demonstrates incredible stamina by praying all night and then healing and preaching the Sermon on the Plain.  Divine King, Christ appoints 12 men as His Apostles and signals His world-wide kingdom by speaking to Israel and Gentiles.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ’s purposeful selection of the 12 Apostles establishes the Church and endures to this day.  Review the Catechism’s teaching about “The Church is Apostolic” (CCC 857-870).

2) In the relativistic, self-focused society, many argue there is no such thing as truth. Realizing that Christ and His loyal Apostles (and millions more) have been martyred for Truth, review the Church’s teaching on Truth (CCC 2464-2513). Pray for Christ to help strengthen and prepare you to stand for truth, regardless of the cost.

3) Reflect on God’s deliberate consistent decision across Salvation History to choose men to lead Israel (CCC 50-64), is the Man Christ in the Incarnation, establishes the Church with 12 men to be Apostles.  Pray for Christ to strengthen you as a Catholic man to be a leader in your family, parish and in the Church.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ

Virtue of the Day – Faith

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the sick

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To forgive all injuries