Friday, January 30, 2009

February 1: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

1 February Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28

This Sunday, the readings draw out attention to importance of authentic witness from one's faith conviction. The bottom line is that if our words match the life we live, many people would be astonished by what we do, because the Spirit will be working in us. In the first reading, the Lord had already promised to raise a prophet like Moses to lead his people. As we hear at the end of the reading, there were and there still are false prophets today who presume to speak in the Lord's name or those who” speak in the name of other gods…", claiming to speak the truth, while at the same time embracing hostility and divisiveness. The response to the psalm calls us not to harden our hearts when we hear the Lord's voice. But we must be aware that society today may indeed present other "voices". In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, Paul counsels celibacy and virginity as a sign of the Kingdom in view of the Lord's coming. His argument is based on the need to dedicate oneself totally to the Lord, because this world is passing away. While Paul does not devalue married life, he is convinced that nothing can outweigh the immanent coming of the Lord. Living that kind of life authentically would to give convincing witness.

In the Gospel of this Sunday, we find a concrete example of what it means to speak from one's faith conviction. Usually when people speak to us from memory we tend to pay little attention, but when they speak from their faith conviction, we are deeply touched. That is the conviction with which Jesus speaks this Sunday. We hear in the Gospel that "the people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority”. The source of such authority was Jesus' intimate relationship with the Father that evoked a sense of deep conviction behind his teaching. In the Gospel we also encounter the dramatic episode of chasing away an evil spirit from a person in the Synagogue. People watched spellbound as the evil spirit threw the person down and with a loud cry left the person. Why was Jesus able to perform such wonders and heal people of their sickness? Why did his teaching make such a deep impression? Because of his intimate relationship with the Father, Jesus was deeply convinced of what he taught and did. Whatever happened during those moments of teaching and healing, Jesus wanted to reveal the Kingdom of God so that people might experience life in its fullness. So what message do we draw from the readings? Three points sum up the message: 1) The readings challenge us to open our hearts so that the teaching of Jesus may transform our lives and his healing power may restore us to spiritual well being; 2) The source of Jesus’ power to heal and authority to teach, was his intimate relationship with the Father. We too if we are to give authentic witness we must be close relationship with the Father through prayer and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation; 3) The healing by Jesus of the person with unclean spirit is a reminder that Jesus still continues his work of healing through you and me. In other words, “miracles do still happen today.”

©2009 John M. Mbinda

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