POPE FRANCIS’ REFLECTION 4TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B.
28 January 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
This Sunday’s Gospel reading (cf. Mk 1:21-28) [4TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B] is part of a wider narrative called the “day in Capernaum”. At the heart of today’s reading is the event of the exorcism through which Jesus is presented as a powerful prophet in word and deed.
He enters the Synagogue of Capernaum on a Saturday and he begins teaching. The people are astonished by his words because they are not ordinary words. They do not sound like the ones they are accustomed to hearing. The Scribes in fact teach but without any authority. And Jesus teaches with authority. Jesus instead teaches like one who has authority, thus revealing himself as God’s Emissary, and not a simple man who has to base his teaching solely on earlier traditions. Jesus has full authority. His doctrine is new and the Gospel says that the people commented: “a new teaching! With authority” (v. 27).
At the same time, Jesus reveals himself to be powerful also in deeds. In the Synagogue of Capernaum, there is a man who is possessed by an unclean spirit which manifests itself by shouting these words: “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” (24). The devil tells the truth: Jesus came to destroy the devil, to ruin the demon, to defeat him. This unclean spirit knows the power of God and he also proclaims his holiness. Jesus rebukes him saying: “Be silent, and come out of him!” (v. 25). These few words from Jesus are enough to obtain victory over Satan, who comes out of that man “convulsing him and crying out in a loud voice”, the Gospel says (v. 26).
This makes a strong impression on those present. Everyone is overcome by fear and asks themselves: “What is this? […] he commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him”. (v. 27). The power of Jesus confirms the authority of his teaching. He does not just speak with words, but he takes action. In this way, he manifests God’s plan with words and with the power of his deeds. In the Gospel in fact, we see that in his earthly mission, Jesus reveals the love of God both through preaching and through countless gestures of attention and aid to the sick, the needy, children and sinners.
Jesus is our Teacher, powerful in word and deed. Jesus imparts to us all the light that illuminates the sometimes dark paths of our lives. He also transmits to us the necessary strength to overcome difficulties, trials and temptations. Let us consider what a great grace it is for us to have known this God who is so powerful and so good! A teacher and a friend who shows us the path and takes care of us especially when we are in need.
May the Virgin Mary, the woman of listening, help us to create silence around us and within us, in order to hear, through the din of the messages of the world, the most authoritative word that there is: that of her Son Jesus who proclaims the meaning of our existence and delivers us from all slavery, even that of the Evil one.
1st February 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
This Sunday’s Gospel passage (cf. Mk 1:21-28) presents Jesus who, with his small community of disciples, enters Capernaum, the city where Peter lived and which was the largest city in Galilee at that time. Jesus goes to that city.
The Evangelist Mark, recounts that, since it was the Sabbath, Jesus went straight to the Synagogue and began to teach (cf. v. 21). This reminds us of the primacy of the Word of God, the Word to be listened to, the Word to be received, the Word to be proclaimed. Arriving in Capernaum, Jesus does not delay proclaiming the Gospel, does not think first about the necessary logistics of his small community, does not tarry over the organization. His primary concern is to communicate the Word of God with the power of the Holy Spirit. And the people in the Synagogue were astonished, because Jesus “taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” (v. 22).
What does “with authority” mean? It means that in the human words of Jesus, the power of the Word of God could be felt, the authority of God, who is the inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures. And one of the characteristics of the Word of God is that He does what He says. For the Word of God corresponds to his will. We, on the other hand, often speak empty, shallow words, or superfluous words, words that do not coincide with the truth. Instead, the Word of God corresponds to the truth, it is united to his will and fulfills what He says. Indeed, Jesus, after preaching, immediately demonstrates his authority by freeing a man, in the Synagogue, who was possessed by a demon, (cf. Mk 1:23-36). The very divine authority of Christ provoked the reaction of Satan, hidden in that man; Jesus, in his turn, immediately recognized the voice of the evil one and “rebuked him:…. ‘Be silent, and come out of him’” (v. 25). With the power of his word alone, Jesus frees the person from the evil one. And once again those present were amazed: “He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (v. 27). The Word of God arouses amazement in us. It has the power to astonish us.
The Gospel is the word of life: it does not oppress people, on the contrary, it frees those who are slaves to the many evil spirits of this world: the spirit of vanity, attachment to money, pride, sensuality…. The Gospel changes the heart, changes life, transforms evil inclinations into good intentions. The Gospel is capable of changing people! Therefore it is the task of Christians to spread the redeeming power throughout the world, becoming missionaries and heralds of the Word of God. This is also suggested by today’s passage which closes with a missionary perspective, saying: “his fame” — the fame of Jesus — “spread everywhere, throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee” (v. 28). The new doctrine, taught by Jesus with authority, is what the Church takes to the world, along with the effective signs of His presence: the authoritative teaching and the liberating action of the Son of God become words of salvation and gestures expressing the love of the missionary Church. Always remember that the Gospel has the power to change lives! Do not forget this. It is the Good News, which transforms us only when we allow ourselves to be transformed by it. That is why I always ask you to have daily contact with the Gospel, to read it every day: a verse, a passage, to meditate on it and even to take it with you everywhere: in your pocket, in your bag…. In other words to nourish yourself every day with this inexhaustible source of salvation. Do not forget! Read a passage of the Gospel every day. It is the power that changes us, that transforms us: it changes life, it changes the heart.
Let us invoke the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, she who received the Word and conceived Him for the world, for all mankind. She teaches us to be assiduous listeners and authoritative proclaimers of the Gospel of Jesus.
SEE AS WELL:
4TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME MASS PRAYERS AND READINGS 2021 YEAR B HERE
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