January 28, 2024 — Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
DT 18:15-20; PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9; 1 COR 7:32-35; MK 1:21-28
In our First Reading, Moses announces to the Israelites that God will send them another prophet through whom He will communicate His commands. Regarding the prophet, the Lord says, “Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it. But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name an oracle I have not commanded… he shall die.”
These are tough words to hear from our Lord, but they are a good reminder for us. We, too, will answer to the Lord one day as to how well we listened to His words and lived by His commands. The thought of our final judgment may cause us to cringe in fear. And while it is good to have a holy fear of being separated from God for all eternity, fear is not to be the motivating factor on our faith journey.
As Christian stewards, it is our job to imitate Christ and follow His commands out of gratitude for all that He has given us. We are more willing to live by God’s commands when we are motivated by love and gratitude.
In our Second Reading, St. Paul tells us how to give God authority over our lives. St. Paul was preaching to the people of Corinth regarding Christ’s Second Coming. Because he thought the Second Coming was approaching fast, he encouraged them, if unmarried, to remain that way so they might fix their hearts on Christ with the time they have left. It might seem that St. Paul’s message cannot apply to us in our present day — however, what he said has great value to us. No matter our state of life — bishop, priest, deacon, religious, married, single — we are called to put Christ first in our lives and to strive to please Him in all that we do. We are inviting God to have authority over our lives when we make Him our top priority. As a result, we will be more prepared to meet Christ at His Second Coming, and we will have an overwhelming peace in our hearts.
Our Gospel today reminds us why we want to give God this authority. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath. All were fixed on His words and astonished at what He had to say. Suddenly everyone’s attention shifted to a man with an unclean spirit who began to question Jesus and His authority. Jesus responded, “Quiet, come out of him!” and removed the evil spirit from the man. All were amazed at the healing of this man.
Life can sometimes look like the synagogue in Capernaum. We are living as disciples of Christ when we suddenly recognize evil around us — through events in our lives, temptations we are enduring, or by falling into sin. It can distract us, consume our attention, or even cause us to despair. In these moments of trial, we must remember the Healer in our Gospel today. Recall His words, “Quiet, come out of Him!” Jesus has the power and authority over evil, for He has conquered sin and death. He also has the power and authority over us. And when we invite Him to have that authority, He will heal us and help us persevere.
Today, we are reminded that God is in control and that we want Him to be in control. He is the loving Healer Who will work miracles in our lives if we give Him the authority to do so.