•Deut. 18: 15-20 • 1 Corinthians 7: 32-35 • Mark 1: 21-28•
Scripture Readings: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Every one of us, everyone who claims or professes to be a Catholic-Christian is a teacher! I do not mean by profession and I am not referring to the real but informal teaching role of parents. Most of our teaching is casual and informal. We teach by how we live, how we treat people, how we respond under stress, and how we help neighbors or strangers. We influence people in the simple, ordinary words and activities of our daily living. In other words, we teach folks what it means to be people of faith. I know sometimes my own words or actions have been authentic in conveying the reality of the Christ Mystery to others. I also regret that sometimes my own words and actions have been an obstacle more than a doorway. How about you?
Mark tells us that Jesus and his newly invited companions — Simon, Andrew, James and John, “came to Capernaum. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and Jesus taught.”
“The people were astonished, filled with admiration.” Nothing is said about the content of his teaching so we can presume it was not his ideas that impressed them. They perceive something special in Jesus. They recognize that he is full of the life-giving Spirit of God.
Mark illustrates this in a striking manner. All of a sudden, “a man with an unclean spirit” cries out, interrupting Jesus. For some reason this man apparently felt threatened by Jesus. Jesus frees him, humanizes him and awakens his trust in God. “The unclean spirit convulsed him and came out of the man.”
“All were so amazed they asked ‘what is this’?” “This is a new teaching – with authority.” Surely you have noticed the enthusiastic response to the new bishop of Rome. He teaches the Christ life with love and respect. Sometimes he uses words. Even those not of our household of faith are filled with admiration.
Today we are burdened with political leaders who are less than inspiring and tend to forget that the basic political premise of our nation is “we the people.” “WE” are the nation, and responsible for all that our political leaders do, or fail to do. For the last 13 years “WE” have engaged in a non-stop war in Iraq, Afghanistan and neighboring countries. “WE” remain at war because we detest “the atrocities” of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups.
We are known by other nations, and we also claim, to be “Christian” people. In spite of that, drone attacks in Pakistan and Yeman, and missiles provided by us to Israel have broken, burned and destroyed the lives of thousands of people including children. Do we really embody Christ, continue his work and inspire others to follow him or do we provoke them to detest Christ and the gospel?
Every one of us, everyone who claims or professes to be a Catholic-Christian is a teacher! We teach by how we live, how we treat people, how we respond under stress, and how we help neighbors or strangers. My, my! — think of what we have taught the people of Islam about Christ and the gospel! I simply ask you to think about it.
Those in the synagogue of Capernaum listened to Jesus and asked, “What does this mean?” Today, as we listen to him, that same question arises. What does this mean to we who are his disciples in the world? When the believing community is true to him and to our calling, then he does continue teaching with authority and others recognize and embrace “God’s new reality” emerging among us. Francis of Rome does this. We all can learn from him!
“Come, follow me.” The Risen Christ is among us repeating that invitation. When what we say or do reflects Christ, when our words and actions proclaim the gospel with love and respect, even the people of Islam are inspired and motivated to accept his invitation. We have much to transform. Thank you for your effort to do so.