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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (1Sam 1:9-20): Hannah rose after a meal at Shiloh, and presented herself before the Lord; at the time, Eli the priest was sitting on a chair near the doorpost of the Lord’s temple. In her bitterness she prayed to the Lord, weeping copiously, and she made a vow, promising: «O Lord of hosts, if you look with pity on the misery of your handmaid, if you remember me and do not forget me, if you give your handmaid a male child, I will give him to the Lord for as long as he lives; neither wine nor liquor shall he drink, and no razor shall ever touch his head».

As she remained long at prayer before the Lord, Eli watched her mouth, for Hannah was praying silently; though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli, thinking her drunk, said to her, «How long will you make a drunken show of yourself? Sober up from your wine!». «It isn’t that, my lord», Hannah answered. «I am an unhappy woman. I have had neither wine nor liquor; I was only pouring out my troubles to the Lord. Do not think your handmaid a ne’er-do-well; my prayer has been prompted by my deep sorrow and misery». Eli said, «Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him». She replied, «Think kindly of your maidservant», and left.

She went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and no longer appeared downcast. Early the next morning they worshiped before the Lord, and then returned to their home in Ramah. When Elkanah had relations with his wife Hannah, the Lord remembered her. She conceived, and at the end of her term bore a son whom she called Samuel, since she had asked the Lord for him.
Responsorial Psalm: 1Sam
R/. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
My heart exults in the Lord, my horn is exalted in my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory.

The bows of the mighty are broken, while the tottering gird on strength. The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, while the hungry batten on spoil. The barren wife bears seven sons, while the mother of many languishes.

The Lord puts to death and gives life; he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again.mThe Lord makes poor and makes rich; he humbles, he also exalts.

He raises the needy from the dust; from the dung heap he lifts up the poor, to seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage.
Versicle before the Gospel (1Thess 2,13): Alleluia. Receive the word of God, not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mk 1:21-28): Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, 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 people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.”

Fr. Antoni ORIOL i Tataret (Vic, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, first Tuesday in Ordinary Time, Saint Mark presents Jesus teaching in the synagogue, and immediately he comments: “The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes” (Mk 1:21). This is quite an extraordinary comment. On one hand, what His listeners admire is certainly not the doctrine but the Master; it is not what is said, but who says it. And, on the other hand, it is not the preacher as such but, rather, specifically who He is: Jesus taught “as one having authority”, that is, with legitimate and unimpeachable power. This particularity is further confirmed with a direct contrast: “He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.”

A little later, though, the scene of the man with an evil spirit integrates the doctrinal lesson with an admirable motivation: “What is this? A new teaching with authority” (Mk 1:27). Notwithstanding, we may as well note the description does not refer so much to the contents as it does to its uniqueness: the doctrine is “new”. Here we find another reason for this contrast: Jesus communicates something unheard (no other word can better describe it).

We still add a third remark. His authority comes also from the fact Jesus “commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” We are facing here such a deep contrast as with the previous ones: To the Master's authority and to the newness of His doctrine we must add His power against evil spirits.

Brothers! Our faith tells us that this Liturgy of the Word makes us contemporaries of what we have just heard and commented upon. Let us ask ourselves with humble gratitude: Do I fully realize no man has ever spoken the Word of God the Father as Jesus did? Do I feel rich with a message that holds no comparison either? Do I realize what liberating force Jesus and His teachings have in human life and, more specifically, in my life? Touched by the Holy Spirit, let us tell our Redeemer: Jesus-life, Jesus-doctrine, Jesus-victory, please, as the great Raymond Lully liked to say, may we live in a constant “wonder” of You!

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Love for God cannot be taught. Knowledge of the love of God does not come from outside. But in the same time when man was composed, a seminal was deposited in us, which possesses from its own the causes of appropriating love.” (Saint Basil the Great)

  • “The novelty of Jesus is that he brings the Word of God, God's love for each of us. Jesus looks for people’s hearts. And he seeks to bring God close to people and people close to God.” (Francis)

  • “His works and words will manifest him as ‘the Holy One of God’ (Mk 1:24).” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nº 438)