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

The Gospel reading from the Mass for Sunday Cycle B for the 3rd Week of Ordinary Time is Mark 1:14-20.

Following the miraculous manifestation of the Trinity 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 trading town of Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee.

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, men with no formal education or connections to wealth or power. It is also striking that with only a simple call by Christ, all four of these Apostles (Peter, Andrew, James and John) immediately follow, leaving their livelihoods and possessions (their nets and boats); remarkably, James and John even leave their father Zebedee.

These four men are Christ’s first chosen, play a prominent part in Christ’s public ministry and go on to lead the Church after Christ’s Ascension. Simon is renamed Peter (Greek for “rock”), is part of Christ’s “inner circle”, is given authority over the Church and becomes the first pope after Christ’s Ascension. Andrew (Greek for “manly”) becomes the apostle to the Greeks. James (with brother John, is called by Christ, the “Sons of Thunder”) is also part of Christ’s “inner circle” and will be the first martyred. John, the youngest, is part of Christ’s “inner circle”, is given responsiblity to watch over Our Lady after Christ’s death and writes the Gospel of John and Revelation.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon 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) Reflect upon Christ’s mysterious power to pick men who appear to be unexceptional (lowly fisherman) but are inspired by Christ’s Grace to carry out exceptional acts of evangelization and martyrdom.

2) Christ’s first preaching is focused on commanding men to repent, to believe and to seek the kingdom; this call is a call to a complete conversion of heart.  Consider every man’s need for continual Conversion (CCC 1423,1427-1429) and pray for Christ to help you continually repent to more fully convert your heart for His Kingdom.

3) As Christ establishes His Church, His first act is to draw men to Himself to establish His Kingdom. Reflect on Christ’s Call to the Apostles  (CCC 541, 787) and pray for Christ to direct you as to how He wants you to help build His Kingdom.

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

Following several intense conflicts with the Jewish leadership, Christ prudently withdraws from Capernaum out into the countryside by the Sea of Galilee. Because of His authoritative teaching and miraculous healings, Christ was beginning to gain widespread interest from people drawn from all of Israel and also from the Gentile lands, confirming His universal call to all people.

The crowds are so large and desperate that, as they surge to draw close to Christ, there is a real danger that people could be hurt; Christ, able to remove Himself at will from difficult situations (Luke 4:29-30), perhaps was more concerned about injuries to others. Foreseeing the danger, Christ prudently comes up with an elegant solution: He has a boat at the ready to take Himself and the disciples out into the safety of the Sea of Galilee.

Christ heals many of the ill, so desperate that they seek to draw close to Him and touch him, because Christ radiates a mysterious “power” (Luke 6:19); Christ, immune from illness, is never infected with disease despite the constant contact with sick people. Those possessed, controlled by their demons who force the possessed to fall down and shriek, exalt Christ,  calling Him, “The Son of God.”

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ is widely recognized for His power and followed by multitudes. Son of Man, Christ is the perfection of the flesh and immune from all types of diseases. Divine Physician, Christ has the power and knowledge to heal every kind of illness. Divine King, Christ authoritatively casts out demons from possessing people and orders them not to speak.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ, the Divine Physician, is recognized for His power to heal every kind of disease (CCC 1503-1510). Contemplate Christ’s healing power and be awed.

2) Celebrities come and go, but Christ continues to appeal to billions of people two millennia after His death and resurrection. Pray for Christ to increase your faith and your hunger to draw close to Him.

3) While some scoff at demons and others are fascinated by them (occult, horror films), Christ is familiar with the evil fallen angels who follow Satan; He engages and defeats both Satan and demons throughout the Incarnation. Arm yourself with the Church’s teaching about Satan and demons (CCC 391-395) and the need to be “delivered from evil” (CCC 2850-2854).

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Luminous Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Holy Eucharist

Virtue of the Day – Fortitude

Corporal Work of Mercy – To shelter the homeless

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To bear wrongs patiently