Friday, January 27, 2012

HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B Deuteronomy 18:15-20/ Psalm 95/ 1 Corinthians 7:32-35/ Mark 1:21-28


Today, we celebrate Him who speaks with authority and to whom we must give our undivided attention. Vocation presupposes authority. You cannot fulfill your call when you are not given the authority to do it. We expect a servant to be under authority and to take orders, but God’s servant exercises authority and gives orders even to demons and His orders are obeyed. You are that servant (cf Luke 10:17).

As we go on with our continuous reading of St Mark’s gospel, we find Jesus in Galilee where he starts his public ministry. Jesus’ ministry needed to be different because of the many voices who claim to have authority which is usually self-imposed. The episode in today’s gospel reading draws our attention to this fact. You will wonder how many Church services the demon possessed man had attended without revealing that he was demonized. It took the presence of Jesus to expose the demon and Jesus not only exposed him, but He also commanded him to keep quiet about his identity and to depart from the man. Jesus did not want, nor did he need, the assistance of Satan and his army to tell people who he is (cf Acts 16:16-24).

In verse 28 St. Mark evokes, as he often does in his gospel, the spread of Jesus’ reputation. Ask yourself how the passage is being fulfilled today, of the Church or of any great movement. When we look back on our lives, we realize that most of those who gave us moral teachings spoke from what others have said. They were scribes recording what others had said. But we thank God that from time to time He sends us someone like Jesus who speaks from his own experience, and shares honestly what we are feeling; he makes a deep impression on us, because unlike the scribes, he speaks with authority.

“When the Church concerns herself with the development of peoples, she cannot be accused of going outside her own specific field of competence, and still less outside the mandate received from the Lord.”(...Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo ReiSocialis, Encyclical Letter, 1987). The authority that Jesus gives the Church is to bring liberation to God’s people as Jesus himself inaugurated in his manifesto (cf Luke 4:18-19).

When the Church confines herself with what is internal to her, many are happy. They rejoice that she is making a deep impression on them. But the will of God is that we should go further and cast out the demons of our society namely racism, class conflicts, discrimination against the disadvantaged, and the demons of unforgiveness, hatred, dissension, impatience and the like.

When the Church does this there are convulsions and loud cries. The fact that we speak in the name of Christ, in many countries, the Church has persevered in following Jesus, and people have been astonished and questioned themselves, and her reputation has spread as one who gives orders to unclean spirits and they obey her.

There have been times when we were held in bondage by an inner force:- we could not forgive;- we did not want to commit ourselves because we were afraid of failure:- ambition was clouding our vision of the truth. Then someone began to speak, challenging us to face the truth- one of our children, a friend, and a bible passage. We got angry, denied it vehemently, wept, and complained to another. Like the man in the gospel, we went into convulsions and cried aloud. We realize now that it was because we knew that the Holy One of God was with us, he had come to do away with our sin. Eventually, after a long struggle, we recognized the demon for what it was, and it went out of us.

Yes indeed. Jesus desires to help us reach that balance within ourselves. However, we need to do our part. At least we need to be prepared to face what we need to face. At least we need to admit that yes we do have a problem. We do need help. We do need to share what is burdening us with someone. John Kennedy used to often say, “Throw a lantern on your problems”. This means do not try to solve everything on your own. Face what needs to be faced so that you might be even pushed at times to do what is necessary.

This is not easy to do. Very often we are embarrassed to admit that we need help. We are afraid that if we admit to someone that we are in some kind of need then we appear to be weak. As a consequence we would lose the respect that others might have of us. Strangely enough, even when we are in dire need, we are too proud to admit that we cannot handle the situation by ourselves. The result is that we become more overburdened as the time goes by with many dire consequences. It is true, change is painful. It is not that easy to admit our shortcomings and we try to hide our situation with the result that one day we can easily succumb to a tragic solution because trying to hide our situation demands a lot of energy and it is very draining.

In sum, Jesus besides being God was also human. He understands us very well. Let us decide to go to Him in our troubled moments knowing that everything will work out well for all those who are in God. The authority over unclean spirits has been given to the Church. Therefore, you cannot remain in the Church and continue to live under the bondage of Satan. This same authority has been given to each one of us as part of our vocation to free others from their bondage. If you have not allowed yourself to be freed from your bondage, how can you free others? God Bless you.

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