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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Sunday 4th (B) in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Deut 18:15-20): Moses spoke to all the people, saying: «A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen. This is exactly what you requested of the Lord, your God, at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let us not again hear the voice of the Lord, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die’. And the Lord said to me, ‘This was well said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. 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 that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die’».
Responsorial Psalm: 94
R/. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; let us acclaim the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice: «Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works».
2nd Reading (1Cor 7:32-35): Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.
Versicle before the Gospel (Mt 4:16): Alleluia. The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light; on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mk 1,21-28): In the city of Capernaum, on a Sabbath, Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach. The people were astonished at the way He taught, for He spoke as one having authority and not like the teachers of the Law. It happened that a man with an evil spirit was in their synagogue and he shouted, «What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: You are the Holy One of God». Then Jesus faced him and said with authority, «Be silent and come out of this man!». The evil spirit shook the man violently and, with a loud shriek, came out of him. All the people were astonished and they wondered, «What is this? With what authority He preaches! He even orders evil spirits and they obey him!». And Jesus' fame spread throughout all the country of Galilee.

«With what authority He preaches!»

Fr. Jordi CASTELLET i Sala (Sant Hipòlit de Voltregà, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, Christ addresses us his resolute command, without question, with authority: «Be silent and come out of this man!» (Mk 1:25). He speaks to the evil spirits living within us that curtail the freedom God has given us and wants us to enjoy.

Perhaps you have noticed that silence is the first rule the founders of religious orders establish when they set up the rules for their community life: on a house where prayer is compulsory, silence and contemplation must reign. There is a Spanish adage that could more or less be translated as: «Virtue is silent; evil is noisy». This is why Christ commands that evil spirit to be silent, because its obligation is to surrender before Him, who is the Word, who «became flesh and made his dwelling among us» (Jn 1:14).

It is true, however, that the awe we feel before our Lord, may stimulate some mixed feelings of sufficiency leading us to think, as in his confessions St. Augustine says: «Give me chastity and continence, O Lord, but do not give it yet». Because the temptation is to leave our own conversion for later on, right now not coinciding perhaps with our own personal plans.

But the call to radically follow Jesus Christ is for right now and right here, so that His Kingdom may allow us in without difficulty. He is well aware of our tepidity, and He knows that we will not probably immediately follow his will for us to choose the Gospel, but we will rather temporise, struggle along, and just keep on living, without stridencies and without hurry.

But good and evil cannot coexist. A saintly life cannot allow sin. «No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon» (Mt 6:24), says Christ. Let us find shelter in the holy tree of the Cross and let its shadow project itself over our life, and let Him comfort us, help us understand the reason of our life and give us a life worthy of the name of sons of God.