The Bishops Homily – 4th Sunday In Ordinary Time

4th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Cycle B | 28/01/10
Dt. 18: 15-20
I Cor. 7: 32-35.
Mk. 1: 21-28

INTRODUCTION: It is of particular importance that we read today’s first reading and the Gospel together, for the former sheds enormous light on the latter. The Church puts these two readings in juxtaposition so that reading one sheds light on the other.

(1) The first reading is from Dt. 18 and one of singular importance for the Biblical Jews. This passage haunted the minds of O.T. sages and the ancient Jews. Moses, before the people entered the Promise Land, said this: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, of your own race, a brother of yours. It is to him that you must listen.”

Moses is clearly the most important figure in the O.T., who combined in his person the offices of priest, prophet, and king, who led the Jewish people to freedom, who gave them the sacred Law, to whom every rabbi and teacher in Israel traced his authority to teach.

If one could trace one’s authority back to Moses, it would seem that no human being lower than God would be more important than Moses. Why does Dt. 18 seem to be speaking of someone coming greater than him? This new figure would speak with the very word of God. He would mysteriously be theory voice of God. Which could they mean? Whom could they be referring? Who could be this figure who would be greater than Moses.

(2) With this background in mind, we pass forward to the Gospel of Mk. 1. We are at the first appearance of Jesus at the Synagogue of Capernaum. The people listening were amazed not on the content of what he was saying but on the manner he was saying it: “He taught them as one having authority and not as their scribes.”

The scribes taught appealing to the authority of Moses beyond themselves. Jesus did not speak to the people in this manner. Rather he spoke to them “with authority” (eksousia). He was speaking out of his own substance. What is being implied is the word that God spoke to Moses is now speaking on his own authority.

Please do not believe those who say that the divinity of Jesus is affirmed in the later Gospel of John, not in the earlier Gospels. These words of Mark is just as clear affirmation of Jesus’ Divinity as John’s “In the beginning was the Word.”

(3) Then what follows is dramatic. A man with an unclean spirit comes to the Syna vogue and shouts aloud: “What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy one of God.” (v. 24)

The people must have begun to suspect something from the way Jesus was speaking. They knew they were dealing with someone completely different. But it took the Demoniac to fill in the picture. The Demoniac is the one who tells who Jesus really was: not just a teacher, not a simple scribe, not just one in the long line of prophets but rather the one who has been predicted in Dt. 18 the one whose mouth God would place his very words, the one who speaks in the name of God.

This is precisely why Jesus is able on his own authority to expel the Demon: “Quiet! Come out of him!” (v. 25) Listen to the reaction of the people: “All were amazed and asked: What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” (v. 27) He is not calling on God to do it. He himself by his own authority is commanding the Demon to come out of him.

CONCLUSION: Lest this becomes very theoretical, we must draw the following lesson: “Listen to him” (Dt. 18) In other words, submit to him. Don’t expect a higher prophet. There is no one greater than him coming after. Listen to the one who speaks with authority. Submit yourself to Christ! He is not one among many.

What will you find? You will find the disordered part of your life coming back together. We have disordered lives. What is the voice that calls them back to order. Submit yourself to him and you will find order in your life: Peace in other words! (The homilist may give a practical application of this from his experience on the effect of the Sacrament of Reconciliation or in the Rehab of drug/substance abuse.)

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

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