January 31, 2021 (readings)
- Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Marybeth Harper
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Opening Prayer: Lord, fill my heart with love for your word as I reflect in these moments. Send me not only understanding, but a deeper movement of my heart toward you.
1. A New Teaching: In this first chapter of Mark, Jesus was just beginning his ministry and was welcomed in the synagogue to teach. As he began, the devout Jews who were listening realized something greater was in their midst (Luke 11). He taught with authority—with power from the Father, and they were astonished. Every day when we reflect on the word with Christ, he wants to teach us in the same way. He has given us commandments and the Church as authorities in our life. May we be as receptive to his authority as were the men in the synagogue that day.
2. Even the Devil: Jesus’s authority and power calm stormy seas, heal the sick, forgive sins, and expel demons. We know this about Jesus because of his word, but the congregation that day didn’t have hindsight, and they failed to recognize Jesus as the Son of God. The demons even proclaimed that Jesus was “the Holy One of God” but the men did not yet believe. When we listen attentively to Jesus’s teachings and subjugate ourselves to him, we will grow to recognize Jesus’s actions in our daily lives. And we’ll be astonished as he teaches us and shows his tender loving care for us and those we love.
3. Jesus Was Famous: Mark tells us in this Gospel that fame followed Jesus from the very beginning of his ministry. In our modern post-Christian culture, Jesus is “famous” as a spiritual leader of sorts, but those of us who love him want a different kind of fame for Jesus. We want others to know and love Jesus the way we do. When those bogged down with temporal needs come to us for consolation, are we able to give them Jesus? To remind them that they are children of this powerful and loving Trinitarian God? Are we able to spread Jesus’s fame person by person?
Conversing with Christ: Lord, even though I talk to you daily in my prayer, I know that I do not even begin to comprehend the depths of your love for me. I want to recognize your actions in my daily life, to become ever more aware of your presence. And I want to share the “good news” with others so that they too will love you. Speak to me, teach me, and allow me to be your messenger to someone today.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will speak your name aloud if given the opportunity to console or advise someone.
For Further Reflection: Just Walk Across the Room: Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith by Bill Hybels.
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