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Ever Ancient, Ever New

Memorial of Saint Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs

First Reading: Genesis 1:1-19

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss,
while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

Then God said,
“Let there be light,” and there was light.
God saw how good the light was.
God then separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”
Thus evening came, and morning followed–the first day.

Then God said,
“Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters,
to separate one body of water from the other.”
And so it happened:
God made the dome,
and it separated the water above the dome from the water below it.
God called the dome “the sky.”
Evening came, and morning followed–the second day.

Then God said,
“Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin,
so that the dry land may appear.”
And so it happened:
the water under the sky was gathered into its basin,
and the dry land appeared.
God called the dry land “the earth,”
and the basin of the water he called “the sea.”
God saw how good it was.
Then God said,
“Let the earth bring forth vegetation:
every kind of plant that bears seed
and every kind of fruit tree on earth
that bears fruit with its seed in it.”
And so it happened:
the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed
and every kind of fruit tree on earth that
bears fruit with its seed in it.
God saw how good it was.
Evening came, and morning followed–the third day.

Then God said:
“Let there be lights in the dome of the sky,
to separate day from night.
Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years,
and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky,
to shed light upon the earth.”
And so it happened:
God made the two great lights,
the greater one to govern the day,
and the lesser one to govern the night;
and he made the stars.
God set them in the dome of the sky,
to shed light upon the earth,
to govern the day and the night,
and to separate the light from the darkness.
God saw how good it was.
Evening came, and morning followed–the fourth day.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 104:1-2A, 5-6, 10 AND 12, 24 AND 35C

R. (31b) May the Lord be glad in his works.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak.
R. May the Lord be glad in his works.
You fixed the earth upon its foundation,
not to be moved forever;
With the ocean, as with a garment, you covered it;
above the mountains the waters stood.
R. May the Lord be glad in his works.
You send forth springs into the watercourses
that wind among the mountains.
Beside them the birds of heaven dwell;
from among the branches they send forth their song.
R. May the Lord be glad in his works.
How manifold are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you have wrought them all—
the earth is full of your creatures;
Bless the LORD, O my soul! Alleluia.
R. May the Lord be glad in his works.

Gospel: Mark 6:53-56

After making the crossing to the other side of the sea,
Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret
and tied up there.
As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him.
They scurried about the surrounding country
and began to bring in the sick on mats
to wherever they heard he was.
Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered,
they laid the sick in the marketplaces
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak;
and as many as touched it were healed.

NAB

At the recommendation of friends I recently started watching the show Madam Secretary. I have really enjoyed it, but watching a television program about the Secretary of State has taught me that there’s a lot about the world that I don’t know. Almost every episode has me googling something. “Where’s Moldova?” “What is the history of the USSR?” “Where is Algeria?” “Were Saint Augustine’s parents Italian?” I am sure that between all the humanities, poli sci, and history classes I took through the years I had learned all these things once, but here I am learning them again as if for the first time.

The same thing happens in my encounters with God in Scripture. There are stories I have heard so many times before that I have stopped listening because I know the words, I know the story, I know the message. But when I make myself take it in again as if for the first time I am dumbstruck by the power in the imagery, the beauty in the wording, and the intimacy of our Lord. Today’s readings are familiar ones, and the message God spoke to my heart in reading them is familiar too, but just like Him they are ever ancient, ever new.

In the beginning the world was a messy, scary place and God brought order to the chaos and beauty to the void. In the time of Christ the world was a messy, scary place and Jesus brought hope and healing to the wounded believers. Today the world is a messy, scary place and our loving God still brings order, beauty, hope, and healing to us all. Thanks be to God.

Today I will pray for the real Secretary of State, all our government officials, and that I may help in God’s work of bringing order, beauty, hope, and healing to the world.

Can you read the Scriptures anew? Can you approach God’s word with that fresh feeling again?

Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker, and homemaker. She lives with her husband and six children in central Illinois. You can find out more about her here.

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