Friday, January 27, 2012

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

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

Credibility, teaching with authority and healing as a sign of the kingdom are some of the phrases that help to capture the message of this Sunday. The readings draw our attention to importance of credible 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 and say, because the Spirit will be working in us. The main point in the first reading is to show that a prophet’s credibility comes directly from God. As we hear at the end of the reading, there were and still there 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 to us other "voices", and therefore the need to discern. In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, Paul counsels celibacy and virginity as a sign of the Kingdom in view of the Lord's second 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 second coming of the Lord. Living that kind of authentic life would give convincing witness.

In the Gospel of this Sunday, Jesus gives 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; from the heart, 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”. Jesus needed no credentials. The source of his authority was his intimate relationship with the Father that evoked a sense of deep conviction behind his teaching. 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? While the exorcism Jesus performed was dramatic, what really convinced the people more was his intimate relationship with the Father. He spoke from the heart. 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 wellbeing; 2) The source of Jesus’ power to heal and authority to teach, was his intimate relationship with the Father. We too can give credible witness with authority. To do so, we need close relationship with the Father through prayer and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation; 3) The healing of the person with unclean spirit is a sign of the kingdom that Jesus still proclaims through the Church and through us even today. Miracles still do happen! The best proof is the power of God’s word that transforms us to live and to share our faith with conviction. Think about it. I am Msgr. John Mbinda, St. John Apostle and Evangelist, Mililani, Hawaii. God bless you.

©2012 John S. Mbinda

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