Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

from: The Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert.

Image result for jesus casting out unclean spirit

 

FIRST READING Deuteronomy 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.”

SECOND READING 1 Corinthians 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.

GOSPEL Mark 1:21-28

Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus 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.

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

God’s authority in our daily lives is important. Who speaks for God? Do we want to listen to God? Are we interested at all in finding the meaning of life outside of ourselves? The challenges of the readings today keep pointing us outside of ourselves and toward a divine authority who wants to communicate with us but who will never force Himself upon us.

The first reading today, from the Book of Deuteronomy, is really strong. God’s people have told God Himself that they do not want to hear His voice directly! So God tells them that they will hear him now only through prophets. But real prophets, not the fake ones.

We may think that there is something odd in not wanting to hear God, but so often we ourselves do not want to hear God in His Word, in His Scriptures and in His Church. Yet at times, if a really strong and charismatic personality comes and is able to preach the Word of God, there are times when we listen. We are no different from the people of the time of Moses! We need prophets when we don’t listen to God. We need also to listen to God’s words about false prophets—for they will die!

The second reading is from the First Letter to the Corinthians. We are told that the unmarried person is able to be more concerned to listen to the Lord and to seek the Lord’s will. This does not mean such an unmarried person is better than a married person or even that such an unmarried person will actually be more concerned about the things of the Lord. Our holiness and our value before the Lord is in doing the Lord’s will and surely many married people are more concerned about the Lord than some unmarried. On the other hand, it is clear that an unmarried person who truly seeks the Lord is able to be more concerned solely about the things of the Lord because of the lack of spouse and children. The point, however, is always the same: listen to the Lord!

The Gospel brings us back again to this them of listening to the Lord. The people in the Gospel are totally amazed at Jesus and his power over unclean spirits. They could see that Jesus spoke as a person having authority on His own. But did the people of the Gospel follow the Lord? Not always! Even when the Word of God is right in front of us, we are still able to resist. God has given us this freedom to choose and so often we choose against God and thus also against ourselves.

Let us pay attention today to the many ways that God comes into our lives. Let us seek to be faithful to the voice of the Lord as it comes to us in Scripture and in the Church. Let us pay attention to the things of God and rejoice when God sends us the strength to be faithful.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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3 Responses to Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

  1. 000rjbennett says:

    Thank you, Abbot Philip.

    Wise words about paying attention to God.

  2. Mary Salmond says:

    Abbot Philip: powerful, succinct, relevant. Now abbot, I need to have some advice about something, when can I make an appointment?? Thanks!

  3. chicoinematt says:

    Thank you for sharing!

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