Sunday, January 31th, 2021 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle B
Readings: Deuteronomy 18: 15-20, Psalm 95 “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts”, 1 Co-rinthians 7: 32-35, Mark 1: 21-28
In today’s gospel Jesus’ teaching is seen in action. In the first public work of the ministry there is a confronta-tion between two superpowers: the power of God and the power of darkness. While Jesus is teaching in thesynagogue, he is interrupted by the shouts of a man possessed; he has no authority over his body or spirit.
When Jesus speaks, he commands the power that dominates this man’s life to leave him alone. At Jesus’ com-mand the man is freed. The people are astonished and marvel at Jesus’ teaching: “What is this? A new teach-ing with authority”.
When Jesus teaches, he shares not only his wisdom but his power. Jesus’ actions are his principal teachings. That is his unique authority. He uses his power to liberate people from the evil forces that dominate their lives. And when others see what he is doing with his teaching, they begin to wonder who this Jesus really is. He will be met with unmixed approval and success. Now people are applauding him but later, as we know, things will change and the applause will die down.
When people want to shelter from his teaching and ignorehis worth, they will distract themselves by focusing on his background, his family. They will begin to question his authority, criticize his values, denounce his preferences.
The important point is that Jesus stayed committed to using his power for good. He continued to exercise hisauthority to liberate those who are bound up and to confront those who lay burdens on the weak. Applause orno applause. No matter what opinion polls say, Jesus struggles on. If he received his authority from else-
where, he looks elsewhere for his approval and support. May we also look up to God for approval. Our Lord,
Jesus has left this example for us. Be blessed by the Lord.
Fr. Paschal Chester, svd
Readings: Jonah 3: 1-5, 10, Psalm 25 “Teach me your ways, O Lord”, 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, Mark 1:14-20
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, one of the most famous stories in the Bible is the tale of Jonah, the run-away prophet. Jonah is commanded by God to go to the great city of Nineveh and tell the people that God is going to destroy them in forty days. If this is his first mission, it is also his first refusal. But he goes through the experience of being swallowed by a whale in order to be born again (repentance).
Jonah has the opportunity of repentance. He prays, he reflects, he remembers; and then he promises to fulfill the word of God. The word of God is addressed to him a second time: “Up! Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.” This time Jonah obeys. He goes into the city and tells the people that all of them will be destroyed in forty days. Surprisingly, everyone pays attention. The king and his ministers command the people to renounce their evil behavior: “who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his furious anger?” They hope that if they repent, so too will God.
Go repents when the people repent. Everyone is overjoyed. All except Jonah. He argued with God. “That is why I fled…I knew that you were a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness and mercy, relenting from evil.”
My dear friends, Jonah was obsessed with being right and he was willing to see all the people perish to be proved right. But the prophet had to learn that the point of his prophecy was not accuracy but repentance. True, Jonah has been made to look foolish; but his foolishness is much less important than people’s repentance. He learnt that it is never too late to repent. The story of Jonah holds out hope for all of us. In the story everyone repents: Jonah himself, the people of Nineveh and even God. Repentance is good news because it means the nothing is settled, nothing is sealed. If God can beginning again, we can begin again and again and again.
May the blessings of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Fr. Paschal Chester, svd