1.28.18 Sun. wk 4 – O.T. B
1st Reading Deuteronomy 18: 15 – 20
Corinthians 7: 32 – 35
Gospel – Mark 1: 21 – 28
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God! Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee. The Gospel of the Lord.
Fr. Mike Murphy Let †Jesus Have Everything To Do With You
The Gospel of Mark, contains an interesting theme. It is called: “the messianic secret”. †Jesus is constantly telling people not to reveal who He is, yet, those He cured, usually went off anyway proclaiming what He did for them. The people in Capernaum wanted to know who He was. They remarked: “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey Him” (Mark 1:27-28). There is newness and authority about †Jesus and His teaching. This is puzzling for these people, but, it is not a mystery to the evil spirit. The spirit declares: “I know who you are – the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24). For the first time in Mark’s Gospel a character in the story gives †Jesus His correct name. Yet, the spirit wanted no part of †Jesus. The evil spirit said: “What have you to do with us, †Jesus of Nazareth?” (ibid).
This seems to be the mantra of our culture. Many people want nothing to do with †Jesus, or, at the very least, place limits on how much †Jesus can participate in their lives. Why are people afraid of †Jesus like the evil spirit in the Gospel? Many think †Jesus wants to control them, take away their freedom to do what THEY want, regardless of how it affects others. †Jesus comes into our lives for a reason: to give us life, and give it to the full: to set us free from our sins, from what is impure and separates us from God. †Jesus wants us to enjoy a relationship of intimacy with Him. At the Last Supper, He said to the Apostles: “I have told you this, so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). In his First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul echoes the mission of †Jesus: “I should like you to be free of anxieties” (1 Cor.7:32). Why is it we are not free of anxieties, worries? Because we keep †Jesus at arm’s length. We choose to ignore His voice. We are too busy listening to other voices. “What have you to do with us, †Jesus of Nazareth?”
There can be no spiritual maturity without the discipline of listening to the Lord’s voice. Not just HEARING what God is saying, but LISTENING. Listening involves the WILL: following His direction; living His words and example. And who is God? “God is love” (1 John 4:8). The evil spirit wanted nothing to do with love. St. Augustine (354-430) taught that “Faith is mighty, but without love it profits nothing. The devils confessed Christ, but, lacking charity, it availed nothing. They said ‘What have we to do with you’ (Mark 1:24). They confessed a sort of faith, but without love. Hence, they were devils”. We can have faith to move mountains, but without love…it is nothing. Even evil spirits have faith in God, but refuse to love. Evil is the absence of generous and selfless love. How do I embrace life of love? It begins with a commitment to prayer.
Our Blessed Lady is a beautiful example for us. Her life was not without anxieties, troubles, and difficulties: pregnant and not married, needing to escape Bethlehem to avoid Herod’s hired killers, and witnessing her Son’s horrible death. Scripture tell us: “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Mary took every life experience to prayer; bringing God into every moment to help make sense of it; to respond in love and docility. Mary listened to †gentle God speak to her words of hope; hope that led her to love God unconditionally, especially, during challenges. St. Catherine of Siena wrote: “We must exercise our spirit in continual, humble prayer, right up to the last day of our life, so that our spirit will never become lazy. We should always be occupied with praying…raising our mind to God, pondering within ourselves the blazing charity we discover and see, in the Blood of the Word, God’s Son” (The Letters of Catherine of Siena, vol. II; Suzanne Noffke, OP, trans; MRTS vol203 [Tempe, AZ. 2001). Mary is “Blessed Among Women” because she listened, trusted and loved.
“What have you to do with us, †Jesus of Nazareth?” †Jesus has everything to do with us. †Jesus is the ONE Savior of the world. Every grace and blessing comes from the love of God in Christ †Jesus (Rom.8). If I believe this, I will listen to His word; I will not think I have a better way of living my life than what He has set before me. We heard proclaimed in Psalm 95: “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts as at Meribah”. Meribah, in the desert, during the exodus is where water came from the rock to save the people. Let us look to †Jesus as the rock of our life; our Source of Living Water.
Our lives will always have challenges and difficulties. We must decide, to whom we will turn for help? Prayer has real value in coping with challenges. Ponder the Word of God in your heart read good spiritual books. For Lent we will provide spiritual reading on how to grow spiritually during that holy season. Visit the Knights of Columbus display in the vestibule where you will find different books on family life. As you grow in the knowledge of the Lord you will begin to recognize His voice. You might be “amazed” by something: the peace of the Lord surrounding you. With prayer, life’s challenges will move beyond anxiety, fear and desperation to hope, trust, and the peace of Christ. Listen in the silences to †Jesus; listen to †Jesus in the varied experiences of your life as Mary did in her life. He calls us to be at peace, to trust and to surrender to His love just as our Blessed Lady surrendered to †gentle God’s love for her.
The unclean spirit wanted nothing to do with †Jesus: “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” If this is our attitude, then religion is just show and tell. If this is our attitude it reveals who we really are: among the spiritually immature, possessing a secular, human spirit that opposes the Holy Spirit. We can become a counter-spirit, like the one in the Gospel, if we want nothing to do with the Lord. †Jesus is the “Way, the Truth and the Life”. He must be the “Alpha and Omega”, the “beginning and end” of all we are and of everything we do. Allow †Jesus of Nazareth to have everything to do with your life, and, like the people of Capernaum, you will be “amazed” at what †Jesus can do for you.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit .