Fourth Sunday Ordinary Time Cycle B Dt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 7:32-35; Mk 1:21-28
In our Gospel reading we encounter Jesus preaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath, where he performs his first miracle. We are told his preaching amazed the people who compared it to that of the Scribes.
The Scribes, interpreters of the law, drew their authority from what the scholars had said and written about the law. Jesus’ authority came from within and probably continued the theme we heard last week, “The Kingdom of God is at hand”.
Jesus also astonishes them by interacting with the man possessed by an unclean spirit. The Jews avoided people who were possessed because coming into contact with an unclean spirit made them “unclean” and prevented them from being part of their religious and social community.
Jesus approaches him and speaks to the unclean spirit with such authority that it leaves the man and goes away. Not only does he speak with authority, but even unclean spirits listen to him.
Jesus was able to command the unclean spirit to come out of the man because he was the fullness of God’s presence. If we are open to God’s presence taking hold of us, we can do the same and God will show us what to do.
Alice Camille, in her book “God’s Word is Alive,” relates a story that may help us understand about being open to that presence in our life and dealing with demons. At Mass one day a disturbed man became very boisterous and distracting as he repeated out loud every word the priest said.
At the sign of peace, a woman left her pew and extended her hand to the man. Then another person did the same thing. Pretty soon dozens were waiting to offer a sign of peace to this man.
The man began to weep openly and when he sat down, “a small child went and sat on his lap.” For the rest of the Mass the man was silent. The people in the story were prepared for this Jesus moment, to let the power of God’s love act in their lives.
Being prepared is the message St. Paul addresses in his letter to the Corinthians. Paul isn’t telling the Corinthians one way of life is better than another, even though it may sound that way. Paul and many early Christians expected Jesus to return in their lifetime. Thinking the Second Coming of Jesus was imminent, he tells them not to worry about changing their status in life.
They should concentrate on living as a Christian in their current state in life and being prepared when the Lord returns. The main thing in their lives should be preparation for Jesus’ Second Coming and they shouldn’t be distracted from it by unnecessary changes.
A popular song a number of years ago told us: “The power of love is a curious thing, make one man weep, another man sing… you’ll know what to do once it gets a hold of you, and with a little help from above, you’ll feel the power of love” (Huey Lewis).
Like the Corinthians and the people in Alice Camille’s story, we need to be prepared to celebrate and share the power of God’s love through Jesus with those who come into our lives every day. Love can move us all to a better place and help us achieve unity, justice and peace. How open are we to that presence and sharing God’s love in our lives?
Deacon Christopher Colville serves at Church of the Redeemer, Mechanicsville.