Sunday, January 28, 2018

EMBRACING WHO WE ARE AND WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR US: a homily for the Fourth Sunday in ordinary time , Year B (Mark 1.21–28)

As usual you can hear the audion here.

            The Sabbath is the Jewish weekly holy day celebrated on a Saturday in memory of God's rest after creating the Universe. We celebrate our Sabbath on a Sunday in memory of the Resurrection of our Lord from the dead.  The Sabbath was meant to be a day without unnecessary work, a day of rest even for the animals and for the land.  It was meant to be a day for prayer and reflection.  Our Sunday is no different.  We too are supposed to give time to express our gratitude to God for what He has done.  The most important but not the only part of that is coming to the church and assisting at the Sacrifice of the Mass.
            Capernaum was a busy fishing village so the Sabbath in the synagogue would mean a lot of people.  Synagogue does not necessarily mean a building.  The synagogue is wherever the quorum of ten Jewish men could be found to gather.  Where the people were too poor to own a separate building they used what they could get.  Jesus goes there anyway like the good and devout Jew that He was.
            Jesus taught, though he had not studied with any of the recognized masters and their schools. Jesus taught with authority. He did not cite this expert and that nor did He present elaborate arguments in favour of His position.  He taught with authority as the new Lawgiver, the new Moses, the one promised for so long.  He taught as one who has the authority to teach because He is in charge.  He taught as one who has the power to say that things are so and they are so.

            There was a man there under the power of evil spirit, a demon, a fallen angel.  Yes, they do exist and yes, you can fall into their clutches for they wage continual war on us especially through temptations.  Yet they cannot harm us as long as we have faith in the Lord and avail of the Sacraments especially confession.  While we are in a state of grace, that is free of mortal sin (dabbling in the occult is a mortal sin), they can do nothing to us.  They are more terrified of us, members of the Body of Christ than we should be of them.  Remember: as long as one repents of one's sins, confesses them in confession and is absolved they can do us no harm. 
            This evil spirit uses the man's voice to cry out against Jesus.  It claims to know who He is "the Holy One of God."  But like all evil spirits it is a liar.  Right up until our Lord died on the Cross Satan did not know for sure Who Jesus was.  He could not grasp that God had become man.  He would not do it nor could he actually do it so neither could he conceive that God could and would do it.  The demon is playing a game, trying to flatter his way out of trouble.  Our Lord does not tolerate its nonsense.  It is rebuked and driven out with a command.
            Why does our Lord not accept the evil spirit's witness?  Why does our Lord not command all the demons, the fallen angels, to show themselves to us and give witness to Him?    Surely if all the demons, were to manifest themselves and witness to the Lord the whole world would be instantly convinced of the existence God and the supernatural?  Would the world not then be converted overnight?  They might but their acceptance would not be faith and would be built on fear and horror.
            Our Lord does not accept the witness of the evil spirit that torments the young man.  Why?       The Lord Jesus does not want the witness of demons but our witness.  We are to confess Him by our obedience in word and deed, by living holy and God-fearing lives, by avoiding evil and doing good and standing up for truth and in defence of the vulnerable.
            Note Jesus' authority: He has but to order the demon to leave the young man and it is gone.  As I have already said demons, evil spirits, or fallen angels do exist and Christ's power over the evil spirit is an affirmation of His teaching and His authority.  He is God become man and He teaches us with Divine authority. 
            The key question asked in this passage is asked of us too: "Who is this?"  Who is Jesus?  Who is He to you? Is He just a good man, a prophet, a wonder worker or is He more?  Is He God made man who has entered history and with His entry changed everything?
            Jesus is not some historical figure, still less is He a character from fiction made up to inspire us.  He has not abandoned us but remains with us in the Church and in the Sacraments above all the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle and that we receive at Holy Communion.   When you and I were baptized we were baptized not only into His death and resurrection but into His very Body.  Each of, individually and collectively, is a walking tabernacle of God's presence and an ambassador for Christ. 
            This is why we gather to worship and offer Holy Mass.  We are to remember and to offer not only His Sacrifice of Himself on our behalf but the Father's raising Him from the dead.  In His death our old selves die; in His resurrection we too are raised and the gates of Heaven are opened to us.  We are the beneficiaries of His many blessings above all the gift of eternal life.  We are here to offer and receive Him and so have entry into the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. 
            This is why missing Mass through one's own fault is a mortal sin because we do mortal, that is deadly, damage to our souls.  By deliberately, or through our negligence, missing Mass we are saying to God: "I know you made me, saved me, blessed me and invited me to spend eternity in happiness and joy with you in heaven but I just can't be bothered."   It's like a baby refusing its mother's milk it starves.           

            Lent is not far away now.  How will we spend that sacred time?  How often have we let is slip past and grown no closer to God?  Let us resolve over these weeks to spend some time, to make some effort so that by Easter we will have drawn near to Him Who longs for us to know Him as fully as we are known.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails