Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28

First Reading: In today’s First Reading, we hear what it means to be an authentic prophet. Prophets were seen as people god had chosen to bring a message of hope and challenge to the people of God’s covenant. Moses, the first among the prophets for the Israelites, speaks about another prophet that the Lord will raise up, fulfilled in Jesus.

Psalm: The psalm’s antiphon encourages us to respond to God’s voice when we hear it, not to harden our hearts. With thanksgiving and joy, the psalm calls us to sing God’s praise. God is our Creator and God is our Savior who shepherds us and guides us.

Second Reading: In today’s Second Reading, Paul (with belief in the imminent return of Christ in the background) responds to practical questions about the issues of marriage and virginity. His main point is not to uphold the unmarried life, but rather to encourage people to remain in their present state of life as they prepare themselves for the Lord’s coming at the end of time.

Gospel: In today’s Gospel, Jesus’s authority was obvious to those who listened to him at the synagogue in Capernaum. They could tell that Jesus’s teaching was different from what they had heard before and they begin to witness firsthand who he is. Jesus exorcises an unclean spirit from a man possed. It was the man with an unclean spirit, who, even before Jesus cast out the demon, proclaimed him as the Holy One of God.

Reflection: In today’s Gospel, Jesus is the confident, self-assured teacher. Yes, he works a miracle. But before we get caught up in that, we should look at how Mark portrays him. Right at the beginning of the Gospel, Jesus enters the synagogue in Capernaum and starts to teach. Unlike the scribes who would appeal to the words of Jewish teachers to support their teaching, Jesus comes across as confident in his own authority. He has no need to reference what others have handed on. Instead, his teaching commands respect because he shows its truth through his deeds.

Paschal mystery living requires us to be so bold as Jesus in confronting whatever “demons” in us keep us from surrendering ourselves over to the growth and life to which God calls us. The call to die to self is more than idle talk. It is the ongoing demand in daily living to listen to God’s word, know all that the Lord commands us, and embrace the life God offers. It is the ongoing demand in daily living to confront evil boldly and not let it win. In surrendering ourselves to God’s will, in dying to self, we embrace our identity with “the Holy One of God” and are assured of the victory of new Life. Only by identifying with “the Holy One of God” can we speak and act with his authority. Truly, this is astonishing and amazing Good News.

Question for Reflection: What evil within me must I work to banish as I accept the call to discipleship?

© 2015, Scott W. Eakins. All rights reserved.

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