Welcome back to the Sunday Mass notes for 6-21-2015. This week the three readings may seem to be unrelated, but a closer study helps the Christian to get a much clearer picture of who God and Jesus are—above and separated from man, their creation—and the awesome power they possess and exercise on behalf of mankind. The theologians say that God is transcendent, that is, He is way above and beyond His creation. In fact, we could know nothing about God at all, if He had not chosen to reveal Himself to mankind—through creation, through His Word, and through His Son. Jesus came to make God known in a personal way by His presence as a man among men. Immanuel, the name given Him in Matthew 1:23, means “God with us.”
Job, the ancient Old Testament believer, was visited by the awesome God, and was dumbstruck. When Jesus spoke to Saul from heaven (Acts 9:3), the church’s chief persecutor fell to the ground in recognition of who Jesus was. Afterwards, in his New Testament writings, then known as Paul, the Apostle shares much about the purpose of Jesus’ coming and how it affects those who come to faith in Christ. The Gospels reveal the life of Jesus, who certified that He was the promised Messiah through the demonstration of His miraculous power over the physical, natural, and spiritual constraints of life.
The first reading is from what many consider to be the oldest book in the Bible. Note: Verses 2 – 7 which were omitted in the original reading are included here in order to provide the full context and meaning.
The story of Job is familiar to most Christians. He was a righteous man who honored God and served his fellow men by helping in their times of distress or need. Satan approached God and wanted to test Job, claiming that he was faithful to God only because he was richly blessed in material and physical ways. God allowed Satan to test Job and the patriarch suffered the loss of crops, possessions, and his children. It’s difficult to imagine the pain and suffering of this saint, and what made it worse was the counsel he received from his so-called friends. They accused him of some failure or sin that brought God’s judgment upon him. He remained true, however, claiming “I know that my redeemer lives,” (Job 19:25).
In the midst of his suffering, Job lamented, “If only there were someone to mediate between us,
someone to bring us together” (Job 9:33). His plea is answered in the New Testament, where Paul wrote, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Little did Job understand that God’s plan was to ultimately redeem lost mankind.
Today’s reading presents the end of the Job’s story. God appears to him and asks a series of rhetorical questions, which Job couldn’t answer. Instead, he responds as anyone would in the presence of almighty God: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more” (Job 40:4-5) and “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:5-6).
What should we take away from this reading? In the presence of God, we mortals are sinful and undeserving. In contrast, God is the great Creator, the almighty God who is worthy of worship. The next reading will reveal God’s plan to restore sinful man to Himself.
Job 38:1-11 NAS95 1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, 2 "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me! 4 Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, 5 Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? 6 On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 Or who enclosed the sea with doors When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; 9 When I made a cloud its garment And thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 And I placed boundaries on it And set a bolt and doors, 11 And I said, 'Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop'?
The second reading is from one of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in the city of Corinth. Note: Verses 18 – 21 which were omitted from the original reading are included here in order to provide the full context and meaning.
Paul emphasizes that Jesus died for lost mankind with the purpose that redeemed men would not live for themselves (which is the natural instinct of men), but would live for Christ. He is worthy of such commitment because He suffered humiliating death, paying the awful price for our sin, and rose from the dead as proof positive that God’s demand had been paid fully.
The Apostle goes on to emphasize the significant transformation that occurs when a sinner confesses Jesus as Lord and Savior. It isn’t that the convert has merely changed, but he is a new creature; he has been transformed. That’s a word that describes the change that occurs when a chrysalis becomes a butterfly. Wow! It’s a radical difference in nature. And because the believer has been changed, his whole life is changed. He no longer yearns for the things of his former, unconverted life. Rather, he finds everything is new, and his affections, motivations, and actions are now committed to Jesus.
What’s more, the Christian now becomes an official representative of Christ on earth. Just as the sinner was reconciled to God by faith, he now is to be an ambassador for Christ, a minister of reconciliation to the lost world. God desires to use the Christian as His spokesman to share the good news of God’s grace.
Paul concludes the paragraph with a startling statement about what it cost Jesus to become a satisfactory sacrifice for sin. It’s hard to think of Jesus as becoming sin for us, but that’s what the text says. Only by His accepting all our sin (He had none of His own) could that sin be washed away by the sacrifice of His life. As a result, by faith, we can “become the righteousness of God in Him.” Praise God!
2 Corinthians 5:14-21 NAS95 14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 16 Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Today’s final reading is from the Gospel of Mark. Jesus had been teaching the multitude, using parables—stories that illustrate truth. Everyone likes stories, and Jesus could teach deep, spiritual realities by using familiar scenes and events. He had spoken of the sower whose seed fell on various kinds of soil with differing results. As he told His disciples, many hearers would not understand but He explained the teaching to them. On this occasion he used many parables and explained them to the Twelve (Mark 4:33).
No doubt, tired from the day of teaching (after all He was human), He instructed the disciples to go with Him to the other side of the lake. As they sailed, Jesus went to the back of the boat and slept. A terrible storm arose, and the disciples, fearing for their lives, awoke Jesus. We don’t know what they intended Him to do, but He rebuked them for their lack of faith. Then, He performed a powerful miracle, ordering the wind and the sea to be calm. Immediately, the storm died down and everything became completely calm. Who could imagine that anyone could stop a storm by merely speaking to it?
Wondering among themselves, the disciples asked each other, “Who is this?” “Even the wind and the sea obey Him.” As in the reading from Job and 2 Corinthians, we are faced once again with the all-powerful God. Jesus was not only 100% human, He was 100% God. He did not give up His deity when He was born on this earth. Jesus performed miracles of healing, raising the dead, casting out demons, and ordering the weather—all of which were the proof that He, indeed, was the promised Messiah who was to come to redeem His people, giving signs of His authority by the miracles He performed. When we read the Gospels, we are not merely reading exciting stories, we are being introduced to the very Creator God who sent His Son to save us.
Mark 4:35-41 NAS95 35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, "Let us go over to the other side." 36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, "Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?" 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"
Bottom Line: Questions for Reflection
1. How would you react if God were to appear to you as He did to Job? Would you be proud that He spoke to you or would you respond with reverent fear and repentance?
2. The miracle-working Jesus has paid the supreme sacrifice to reconcile you to God through faith. Have you acknowledged Him as Lord and Savior?
3. Have you accepted your role as an ambassador for Christ, trying to bring others to reconcile with God?
Note: For a listing of readings for the Roman Catholic Mass visit this web site:
First Reading JB 38:1, 8-11
Second Reading 2 COR 5:14-17
Gospel Reading MK 4:35-41
Online Scripture verses for most Bible versions can be found at: http://www.biblegateway.com/