Saint Vincent Archabbey
4 Ordinary Time
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time,
Mark 1: 21–28
Jesus goes to the synagogue in Capernaum with four of his disciples where people are astonished that he teaches with such authority. A man in the synagogue, possessed by an evil spirit, recognizes Jesus as the "Holy One of God" who has come to destroy the spirits of evil. After Jesus casts out the evil spirit, the people in the synagogue are amazed at the power and authority that Jesus possesses, and go out to spread his fame throughout Galilee.
More of the implications of this passage may reveal themselves if we remember the narrative context into which Mark places it. After this cure of the demoniac, Jesus cures Simon's mother-in-law and many others afflicted either by illness or by evil spirits.
It is with these acts of power done out of compassion for the needs of others that Jesus begins his public life. Immediately before, Mark has told us of the baptism of Jesus, with the Spirit descending upon him and the voice from heaven saying to him, "You are my beloved Son." (Mark 1: 11)
Jesus is then tempted by Satan not to trust that affirmation. After the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus goes to Galilee where he proclaims that the kingdom of God is at hand. He calls disciples to follow him, and together they go to the synagogue at Capernaum (today's gospel passage).
The cure of the demoniac represents the beginning of the messianic age when the power of Satan's kingdom will at last be destroyed ("Have you come to destroy us?"). Jesus enters a world in which Satan reigns, teaches with the authority of God, and with compassion casts out evil spirits that hold people in bondage and fear. Christ's mission, begun here, will not be completed until the end, "when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power …
The last enemy to be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15: 24–26).
Jesus called disciples to be with him as he began his mission at Capernaum; now he calls us to be with him as he continues his mission in the towns and cities where we live. The Spirit descends upon each of us at baptism, and a voice from heaven says to each of us, "You are my beloved." We, like Christ, will often be tempted by Satan not to believe these words when the power of evil seems to be invincible. We will also be tempted to use power and authority, not with Christ's compassion in service of others, but to advance our own reign.
Later in his gospel, Mark talks about authentic Christian discipleship. Two disciples who were with Jesus at Capernaum (James and John) seem to have assumed that discipleship means enjoying positions of power. Jesus summoned all his disciples and explained his notion of power. He said that among the Gentiles, rulers make their authority felt and lord it over people. But, he added, among his disciples, whoever wishes to be great must be the servant of all. This was the notion of power that led Jesus to teach, to cast out demons, to cure illnesses, and finally to give himself up to death on a cross with the supreme power of love. "For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10: 45).
Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time,
Gospel–Mark 1: 21 - 28
In this Gospel Mark speaks to us of the beginning of Jesus' ministry. Jesus had just called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow him, and the five of them continue on to Capernaum which was the home of Peter and Andrew, and most likely James and John. These four hometown men arrive with this stranger who had not yet preached, healed, expelled demons or raised the dead. Jesus arrives in town as just another stranger passing through, but he must be alright since he is with these four familiar men. We don't know how long he was in Capernaum, but he made an impression and was invited to teach in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. Mark does not tell us what Jesus said, but rather tells us the effect it had on the assembly, they "were astonished."
He was seen as being a refreshing contrast to the scribes who spoke nice sermons, while Jesus spoke with authority.
Jesus' presence and teaching in the synagogue was so powerful that it stirred up an unclean spirit in one of the men there. The outburst of the unclean spirit in which he revealed himself with fear that Jesus came to destroy them, ends with the unclean spirit pointing out to all that Jesus is "the Holy one of God." Jesus responds by rebuking the unclean spirit and casting him out
A lesson for us is to be open to the presence and authority of Jesus in our lives and in the world. Jesus arrived in Capernaum as somewhat a stranger, yet the people there welcomed him and invited him to teach. Jesus should not be a stranger to us for we entered into a personal relationship with him on the day of our Baptism.
Through Baptism we should be able to recognize Jesus entering into our lives in Word and Sacrament, and he comes with authority. The Authority to teach us, guide us, and heal us, which help us to grow in holiness. He is not a stranger, but the presence of God with us: our Savior, brother and Lord. He is someone whose presence we should be able to recognize and stand in awe before him.
We do know that it is Jesus who has authority and power to cast out demons. We should not be surprised when the Lord answers our prayers, whether they be for deliverance, health, a job, or whatever. When we pray we should do so with trust that the Lord hears our prayer, even those that seem so insignificant that we might be tempted not to bother God with them. In the Parable of the dishonest Steward Jesus tells us that, "The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones." (Luke 16:10)
We can apply this to ourselves with regards to how we approach the Lord in prayer: If we can entrust to the Lord our little needs, we will be able to entrust to him our greater needs. We will learn from experience how the Lord answers our little prayers like finding something that's lost, finding us a good parking spot, or sending a good Samaritan. Yes, some of these seem rather trivial, but I know of people who claim that they always get a good parking spot when they say a prayer. When we begin to trust the everyday little needs to God we will soon have the faith to trust in him to answer our big prayers. This all begins with our welcoming Jesus into our lives and inviting him to speak to us.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.