Homily for the fourth Sunday of the Year - Year B - Mk. 1:21-28


by

Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 

" Jesus and his disciples went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.


" And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and 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.' But Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be silent, and come out of him!' And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, 'What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.' And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. "





Homily:


" Jesus and his disciples went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. "


Throughout his life, Jesus never ceased for a single instant to teach his People, the People that God had chosen for himself. It is a unique phenomenon, like Christ himself. Jesus' entire life is a teaching: not only are his words a teaching, but also, and most of all, his entire person, all that Jesus is in himself, is a teaching: for Jesus of Nazareth is not only a Man, but also God, the one God, Creator of the entire Universe! Jesus is the incarnate Word of God: in Jesus, the Word of Life ceaselessly proclaims the Glory of the Father!


"He entered the synagogue." Jesus went first to his own: with his People, he was but one body, a single lineage descended from Abraham, the Father of Believers. So God first proclaimed his Word among his People in order that it might become "flesh" and spread forth among all Jews, after it had been incarnated in Jesus through the operation of the Holy Spirit. But when the Jews, in the person of the High Priest, had rejected Jesus, the Word of God was then addressed to all the Nations, who received a force from on high, that of the Spirit of God, which unites them all in a single Mystical Body, the Church!


"And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes." What makes the Word of Jesus different from any simply human word is that the Word of Jesus is clothed in this force, this power of the Holy Spirit. A little earlier, Jesus had declared, in Nazareth, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me..." (Lk. 4:18) Jesus knows it: he is God, and the Power of the Most High (cf. Lk. 1:35) is upon him! When Jesus speaks, the Spirit of God puts into his human speech all the Power and the Force of the Divinity, so much so that, when this human speech of Jesus reaches the ears of his listeners, it resonates in their heart with an incomparable power!


" And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and 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.' But Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be silent, and come out of him!' And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. "


This is not a mere healing: we are in the presence of an open battle between the Son of God himself and the Prince of this world, Satan. For there truly is an adversary who intends to oppose the Word of God until the end. Jesus is our Savior: it is he whom the Father has sent to spread forth throughout the world the grace that saves and gives Life. But this work of salvation in Jesus Christ is ceaselessly exposed to the attacks of the enemy, the devil.


The devil's attacks are made on the level of knowledge: "I know who you are, the Holy One of God." For the Life of God is itself a life of knowledge. In fact, Jesus said in his prayer to his Father, on the eve of his death, "And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (Jn. 17:3) However, we are not yet in the time of the knowledge of God: on the contrary, we are in the time of faith, that faith which is our "victory" (1 Jn. 5:4) over the devil. We are not yet in the final time of the Revelation of God, when we shall see him as he is (cf. 1 Jn. 3:2): but rather we are in the time of the trial of faith and of obedience to the Word of God.


Satan and the Angels who followed him did not obey God, and they sought to convince the man and the woman, Adam and Eve, to do likewise: this was the first sin, the original sin. Obedience and faith are a trial, an intermediate step that must be passed through before attaining the full knowledge of God. This trial lasts for a certain time, fixed by God: it is the time of our life on earth. Adam and Eve, like the fallen Angels, did not respect this trial which God placed before them and they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. They had thus acquired a knowledge of God that was culpable: in it was mixed good and evil. After the sin of the first man, "the Lord God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.' " (Gn. 3:22)


" And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, 'What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.' And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. "


Jesus never sought to have his fame spread everywhere. On the contrary, he often told others not to say anything to anyone about the good and the miracles he had accomplished, just as, in this case, he told the unclean spirit who lived in the man: "Be silent!" The reason for this is, first, that he had no need to worry about his fame: the Holy Spirit was there to look after this, just as he does now, and will ever do so, in order to spread, here and there, the fame of the servants of God who work unknown throughout the entire world. The second reason was that he had to combat, through humility, the pride that lives in all men and women who are descended from Adam and Eve. When a similar phenomenon takes place, we are always inclined to exaggerate and to pride ourselves of the good accomplished by others...


Let us be convinced by the Word of God we hear on this day: even if we were not present when Jesus proclaimed his Gospel, we can hear this same Word of God in the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts! May Mary help us through her faith and her prayer!



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