FOR YOUR STUDY by Deacon Tony Martucci, Deacon Spiritual Advisor

Are you a carrot, an egg or a tea bag? Think about that for a moment. We’ll come back to it later.

We read in Mark's Gospel that in the synagogue in Capernaum “all who looked on were amazed.” How many times in the Gospels do we hear that the people who listened to Christ’s teachings and or witnessed his miracles were “amazed?” Just what does that mean? Have you ever watched a magician and wondered “How did he do that”?  Did you stand there with your mouth open in total shock? Being amazed by something is like looking at beautiful fireworks. We say, “Ooh” and “Ahh” when we see it; but when it’s over we walk away just the same as we were before. These people in today’s Gospel were very much like that. They loved to hear the words of Jesus, to see His miracles, but they didn’t change the way they lived or the way they thought.

Contrast that with the Blessed Mother. The Gospel tells us in numerous places that “Mary pondered these things in her heart.”  She listened to the message of Her Son and took the time to think about it and to apply it to her own life. She was changed by what she saw and heard. Mary was the first Christian and the example for each of us of what we should be.

When we come to Church on Sunday, are we changed by the message of the Gospel, by the homily, or by the Eucharist that we receive? Do people see anything different in us?  Do we leave here and ponder what we have witnessed, or are we just amazed, and unchanged?

Many of us, perhaps most of us, look at the world around us, the corruption in government and in business, the failing economy, the poverty and ask “Why?” We need to know that God has put us here to make a difference. He wants us to hear His word, make it a part of our lives, and to transform us so we can transform the world. The problem is that many of us are not changed by participating in the Mass.

I want you to imagine three pots of water on the stove. Into the pots we put a carrot, an egg and a tea bag. We bring the water to a boil for several minutes. Then we remove the carrot, egg and tea bag. The carrot, which was once firm and crisp, is now soft and limp. The egg, which had been liquid inside, is now hard. The teabag, although wet, is relatively unchanged; but the water it was in is changed. This illustrates an important lesson for us. The boiling water is the obstacles and trials of life. We can be like the carrot, the egg or the tea bag. We can lose our faith and become soft like the carrot; we can be hardened by the events of our life and become hardened like the egg; or we can learn from our troubles and change the environment around us like the teabag.

The Gospel gives us the opportunity to see what God’s plan is for us and how to face our surroundings. Our world is a very different place than it was when we were younger.  It has become very modernistic and materialistic. It is anti-Christian. Perhaps that is because the Christians of the world have been changed by the environment. Think of those Christians and Muslims who are fundamentalists. They are almost fanatical about their faith, while we are almost indifferent. Something has to change in us if the world is to change. Christ has said, “Let your light shine before men, so that seeing your good works they may give glory to God the Father.”

Most of us are very excited about today’s Super Bowl. The players who are there have worked hard to get there. They practiced long hard hours and trained their bodies. Some of them are even playing with sore muscles and bones. But they want to win that trophy and get their Super Bowl rings. These are good things, but the life that Jesus is offering us is worth much more than a Super Bowl Ring.  Don’t you think we should work just as heard to be the best person we could be, like Christ was and is?

In another verse of scripture, Christ says, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, will He find any faith on earth?” I once marveled at this and wondered” How can that be?” Today I see that it is very possible. You and I must make a choice as to where we are going and where the world is going. We can no longer be lukewarm about our faith or we will be changed by the world around us. We must  be changed by Christ’s words and be the light and salt that brings change to the world.


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