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4TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

4th Sunday

 

Dear OLPH Family and Friends,

                  If you were asked “what was the first miracle performed by Jesus?” most would reply the miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana.   That would be true if we were speaking of the Gospel according to Matthew.   However in Mark we have our story of the exorcism of the demoniac.  This dramatic healing of the demoniac in the Capernaum synagogue is the first action of Jesus after calling the first disciples.  Each evangelist introduces Jesus’ public life in a different way. Matthew begins with the Sermon on the Mount,   Luke with the reading of Isaiah in Nazareth, and here we see Mark beginning the story of Jesus’ public activity with this healing of the man possessed by an unclean spirit.  It was a startling experience for those present that evening in the synagogue.   A word of command is followed by convulsion and a scream, resulting in complete liberation.  The crowd of witnesses wonder “What is this?  A new teaching with authority!”  Nothing is said as to what the teaching might be.   Jesus is a man of action and His teaching, so to speak, is that He came to repair what was broken   , to heal those who are in need of healing.

What connection does Mark want us to make between teaching and deliverance from demonic power?  Up to this point, Mark’s Gospel reference to teaching is an announcement and a command:  “This is the time of fulfillment.   The kingdom of God is at hand.   Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

(Mk 1:15)  The dramatic healing by an authoritative word is a demonstration that “God’s reign is in their midst.  The people recognize it as such.

It is not the unclean spirit and the possessed man that trouble Jesus’ audience.   These were

common in their world.   They were disturbed because Jesus was acting totally out of line with His inherited status.   This carpenter from Nazareth dare to teach “as one having authority” in the Capernaum synagogue.  Who gave Him authority to reach? Our ancestors in the faith believed that spirits were more powerful than human beings but less powerful than God.  The spirt who possessed the man in the synagogue knew Jesus’ identity far better than Jesus’ friends did.   He knew Jesus was “the Holy one of God.” Jesus has greater power than the evil spirit.   Jesus commanded the spirit to come out of the man, and it did. The people now had an answer to why Jesus taught “with authority, and not as the scribes.”  Clearly, Jesus

possessed powers stronger than those of ordinary human beings. 

No one denied the mighty deeds of power that Jesus performed.   What troubled them was the source of His authority.   Was it God or as we will hear later in the Gospel, was it from Beelzebub?  The people at Capernaum couldn’t decide.  The fact was very clear.   Jesus the carpenter from Nazareth had authority and power to do what He did.  He behaved honorably but totally out of character with “His

position in life.”  The gossip network proclaimed a new honor status for Jesus.   It also restored honor to the man how released from the power of unclean spirits.   He could now reclaim His rightful place in the

community.

With the power given to us in baptism, may we each make it our goal to be Jesus’ healing power in the world today!   

Fr. Ron