Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS   
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time 
Posted for February 1, 2015
   
 

“His teaching made a deep impression on them because 
  he taught them with authority.” So we read in today’s 
  Gospel.

We are not very happy with authority today. We aren’t keen on trusting someone’s judgement just because of the role they have. Whether it be the police, the medical profession, law makers, teachers or clergy –all have to justify themselves.

People don’t accept anything today just because they are told it. They want to know why. I suppose this is because it is thought that those in authority have abused their power in the past. In some cases they have taken short-cuts and caused hurt and harm

The police have been caught out rigging evidence, doctors have been found to have made wrong diagnoses, law makers have shown themselves to be biased, teachers have just lectured us without ensuring we really understood, and priests have looked after themselves and failed to go after the lost sheep.

It is understandable that we resent those who have exercised their authority badly. We feel let down, we feel that our trust has been abused; we feel we can’t rely on anything any more. Those who fail to carry out their responsibilities let us all down; they give everyone a bad name.

But what about Jesus and the way he exercised authority? Here is the Son of God; the Lord of Creation, the one with all the power that ever could be vested in one individual, so it is important that we look to see how he exercises it? And the short answer is that he exercises authority with gentleness.

He who could rule all, doesn’t. He who could destroy even the evil spirits doesn’t, he simply rebukes them. He who could call armies of angels to defend him doesn’t, instead he allows himself to be taken into custody, tried, tortured and executed.

It is what Jesus doesn’t do that is more astonishing than what he does do. You will notice from the Gospel, it wasn’t the casting out of the evil spirits that astonished the people it was his teaching. Not his actions but his words.

It is no wonder that the people were astonished. Jesus truly is the prophet foretold by Moses who speaks the words God has put into his mouth. And these words are words of love, words of truth, words of peace, words of gentleness.

And in his words he reveals the mysteries of the Kingdom to us, mere children. And does not our heart burn within us as he talks to us on the road through life. We hear his words and we are astonished and filled with joy.

Jesus was no prophet in the ordinary sense of the word. Although on occasion he used harsh language to certain groups with vested interests, he did not lambast the ordinary people in the way that some of the prophets felt they had to.

The prophets of old were faced with a stubborn people who could not see God’s will, and, for the most part, they were fiery preachers who used strong language and threats to put across their message.

Jesus doesn’t do this. He is far better than a prophet. He doesn’t threaten, he doesn’t shout and bawl, he doesn’t really ever get angry with the people. His message is Blessed are the poor; Love your neighbour; Do go to those who persecute you; Pray for the coming of the Kingdom. And his message is all the more powerful for the fact that he has all the authority that has ever existed or will ever exist—but doesn’t use it.

We don’t call him a prophet, or even the prophet. We call him Emmanuel –God with us, Jesus –one who saves.

Here is real authority; here is the authority of God himself. Here is an authority figure who respects us more than we respect ourselves. Here is an authority figure who goes so far as to give his own life for our sake.

While we distrust the authority figures of our world today, we must, of course, acknowledge that each of us somewhere or other also exercises authority; whether it be as a parent, an elder brother or sister, or in some aspect of our work. And in our exercise of authority we are often enough guilty of the very things we accuse our oppressors of doing. Therefore we too are open to question and to accusation.

So let us take Jesus for our example and guide in the way we exercise our responsibilities. Let us teach our children as he would teach them. Let us treat our younger brothers and sisters as kindly as he would. Let us treat our subordinates at work with the kind of fairness he would show. Let us treat all those we have power over, however insignificant that might be, just gently as he would.

We will then find that people accord us an authority not based on any power we hold but based on the credibility and consistency of our lives.

The effect of doing this is that society itself will change and become better. We Christians will have become an active leaven in the world. Our patience, tolerance and gentleness will have become infectious and will have spread from the top to the bottom of our society. We will wake up one day and discover that we have built up the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Through the efforts of the Dalai Lama we have heard what the Chinese Communist Government has done in Tibet since it invaded in 1949. We have heard how even now they have systematically attempted to eradicate every vestige of Tibetan religion and culture.

There was a certain army commander who was particularly brutal towards the Buddhist monks and nuns of Tibet. He revelled in the reputation he had gained as a persecutor and destroyer of monasteries. His reputation had grown to such an extent that he only had to approach a monastery with his soldiers and the monks fled.

One day he arrived at the gates of a well-known monastery and when the gates were battered down he was again pleased to hear that the monks had fled. However, he very quickly flew into a rage when one of his officers reported that in the inner courtyard there remained one solitary monk. He strode off into the cloister and went right up to the monk who was standing there peacefully before him.

‘Don’t you know who I am?’ he yelled into the monk’s face. ‘Without blinking an eye, I can run you right through with my sword.’ The monk quietly responded: ‘Don’t you know who I am? Without blinking an eye, I can let you run me through with that sword.’
http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=1970

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Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
February 1, 2015

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—February 1, 2015
Right after Jesus’ baptism, He tangled with the devil. In St. Mark’s account of His first teaching mission, an unclean spirit confronts Him. Why this assault from the forces of darkness?

Gospel (Read Mk 1:21-28)

After Jesus assembled His disciples, He began His itinerant life of preaching the Kingdom of God.   Today, we read about His visit to the synagogue in Capernaum. The impact of His teaching was immediate: “The people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” The people recognized that there was something unique in the way Jesus spoke about the Scriptures (which is what happened in synagogues). Surely the townspeople, at this early point, could not have much of an understanding of who Jesus was. However, there was one man in the crowd who did—“a man with an unclean spirit.”
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Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time: He Spoke with Authority
In today’s Gospel reading the Sacred Writer, the Holy Spirit, speaks about the authority of the Lord.  The reading is taken from the first chapter of the earliest of the Gospels, the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus begins to teach in Capernaum.  The people are held spellbound because he spoke with authority, not like the scribes.  A man comes before Jesus who is in the hand of the power of evil.  Jesus makes the devil come out of the man.  The bystanders are amazed because Jesus has such authority.
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To Go Deeper into the Life of Christ
Every Catholic should spend a minimum of fifteen minutes a day engaged in spiritual reading. Normally, this should include some reading of the New Testament to identify ourselves with the words and actions of our Savior and better conform our lives to His, perhaps followed by a passage from some classic book on a spiritual theme recommended by your spiritual advisor. (You do have one, do you not? If not, take steps to remedy that situation immediately.)
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Love as Passion – and Virtue
I’ve often read something in the work of Thomas Aquinas and been puzzled by it, only to discover later how much wisdom was contained there.

One example that comes to mind deals with love, and when I describe my puzzlement, the older and wiser among this audience will certainly say: “How could he not have understood that?” In his Summa of Theology, Thomas discusses love in two contexts: once in his discussion of the passions, and then again in his discussion of the virtues. Here was what puzzled me: How can love be both a passion and a virtue? Isn’t it one or the other?
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Does Your Mind Wander When You Pray?
Do you have trouble paying attention while praying? Does your mind wander? Do you sometimes fall asleep? Do you forget where you were and stop? Do you then feel ashamed and disappointed in yourself? Do you get frustrated? Do you want to give up trying to pray long prayers like the Rosary? Do you give up? Or do you keep trying?
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Aim Higher Than Purgatory
During a homily, I heard the story told of an elderly man who had converted to the Catholic faith on his deathbed. “Why now?” many wanted to know.

“I’ve been thinking about it for awhile,” he explained. “The Catholics pray for their dead and the Protestants don’t. I want to be prayed for in case I will need it.”

Throughout the ages, visionaries have seen purgatory where souls long for Heaven. Catholics understand that purgatory is a place of suffering. And then, we live as if purgatory is the destination, unwilling to shoot for sainthood.
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Does Everything Happen for a Reason?
A reader once wrote to me to ask:

“I have a quick question, and I apologize if it’s awfully trite, but I haven’t been able to find a satisfactory answer after (admittedly, not-so-exhaustive) searching. 
 
Here it is:
 
From the standpoint of the Catholic Church: does everything happen for a reason?
If it does, it smacks a bit of predestination; if it doesn’t, does that mean that God is out of control or doesn’t care? Say a flower grows on a mountaintop and it dies, and no human ever saw a trace of it or knew it existed; how much of that is an effect of an ecosystem going through its natural cycles, and how much is God putting a flower on a mountaintop?”
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Wondering What to Give Up for Lent? Try Indifference, Pope Says
VATICAN CITY — The “globalization of indifference” was at the heart of Pope Francis’ Lenten message, in which he urged the faithful to fight individualism with merciful hearts that are more attentive to the needs of others.
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Is the Angel of the Lord the Pre-Incarnate Christ?
The Church Fathers held an unwavering belief that the Second Person of the Trinity appeared frequently in the Old Testament in a variety of forms: the Angel of the Lord, the Burning Bush, the Son of Man, and the one like a Son of God in Daniel.

Today we’ll look at a debate regarding the Angel of the Lord. Is he are isn’t the Pre-Incarnate Son of God? There are various positions in early Christianity.
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Want to Change the World? Grow in Holiness
Every year, we make New Year’s resolutions — exercise; read a book a week; learn a language or improve our career. How about, this year, we resolve to do something that can change the world?

This year, resolve to grow in holiness, deepen your relationship with Christ and make your faith life something beyond whatever it is today.

There are several methods for beginning this miraculous journey. 
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Abortion and Obi Wan
In 1914 Agnes Cuff, a flighty and unstable young woman with few prospects and little money found herself pregnant. The father didn’t want to be involved. She was alone, shamed, poor and pregnant.

Today she would be encouraged to get herself to an abortion clinic and end the unwanted pregnancy.

Instead a little boy was born.
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The Earliest Christian Teaching on Abortion
From sometime in the first (or early second) century A.D.:

“There are two ways, one of life and one of death, and great is the difference between these two ways. And now this is the way of life: First, you shall love God, who made you…

The second commandment of the teaching is:
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Jesus The Teacher of Sanctity
Presence of God – I need You always, my divine Master, because You alone are holy and can show me the true way of holiness.

MEDITATION

The knowledge of God in which eternal life consists, as Jesus has said, is not the kind of knowledge which stops at the enlightenment of our intellects, but knowledge which stirs up our wills to love the God whom we know, and which regulates our whole life so that it will be pleasing to Him. Consequently, when Jesus has brought us to the knowledge of the Father, He then teaches us what we must do to please Him: “Be you therefore perfect as also your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
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Casting Out Demons in the Name of Solomon: Jewish Exorcisms at the Time of Christ
Exorcisms have been a part of Catholicism from the very beginning. When Jesus sends out the Twelve Apostles, “they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them” (Mark 6:12-13). But did you know that exorcisms actually predate Christianity, and that there were Jewish exorcists at the time of Christ?
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10 Lessons from the Early Church Fathers for Today
1. The early Church Fathers were not superhumans.

They were ordinary people who were faithful to God’s call. They teach us that our lives, too, are charged with possibility.

2. The Fathers remind us that we need spiritual fathers in our life today.

Spiritual knowledge cannot be passed on through books alone, but is best transmitted person to person, apostle to apostolic successor, and saint to saint. We need such people in our life, too.
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Four Ways to Show More Compassion and Love
Jeanne Lyons’s story, as told in Joyful Witness, is one of overcoming life’s challenges and learning to show compassion and love for the least among us. How do we follow her great example? As Matthew 25:40 reads, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” In reflecting on this Scripture and Jeanne’s ministry, here are four practical actions to consider:
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The Beauty of Devotion
In order to be devout, not only must we want to do the will of God, we must do it joyfully. If I were not a bishop, yet knew what I know, I would not want to be one. But being one, not only am I obliged to do what this annoying office requires, but I must do it joyfully, and I must take delight in it and accept it. To do so is to follow St. Paul’s saying, “in whatever state each was called, there let him remain with God” (1 Cor. 7:24).
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The Necessary Virtue of Hope
During any phase of transition, one hears quite a bit about the importance of the theological virtues of faith and love. One is counseled to have faith in God that He will bring the best result out of the situation, while being reminded to either love those also going through the transition along the way, or to be very loving to the one who is facing the changes alone. While these are very important pieces of advice, often the incredibly important virtue of hope is lost in the mix.
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Recognizing Sinful Anger
Anger as a deadly sin is ‘a disorderly outburst of emotion connected with the inordinate desire for revenge.’ . . . It is likely to be accompanied by surliness of heart, by malice aforethought, and above all by the determination to take vengeance.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains a similar description:
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Casting Out Devils From Your Life
Jesus said with the utmost clarity:“Some devils can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.”(Mt. 17:21) Often the devil or devils have a real stronghold in our lives, and to make things worse, we are not even aware of it. One of the greatest victories of the devil is to hide or camouflage himself, or better yet, trick us into believing that he does not even exist!
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Why the Devil Hates the Blessed Virgin So Much (And Why You Should Love Her)
Satan hates the Blessed Virgin Mary. In fact, he has been doing everything in his power to discourage devotion to her and instill hatred for her for two millennia. Have you ever noticed that it is Marian dogmas and devotions that stir the strongest reactions in those who reject the Church? Even some good Catholics are embarrassed by devotion to our Lady, and they feel we should not be too extreme in our veneration of her.

Perhaps you, too, have wondered why the Church holds the Immaculate Virgin in such high regard. Perhaps you have wonder why God has chosen to use her in the work of redemption. Today, I’d like to take a look at why the devil hates the Blessed Mother so much, and why we should be her devoted knights.
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Weapons for Battling Lucifer in Lent

Lent is coming up and I’m finally getting down to Paul Thigpen’s excellent Manual for Spiritual Warfare.

This little book is the best I’ve found on the subject. Paul launches into the subject of spiritual warfare with clear explanations, solid research and simple language.

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Healing through a New Language
I would like to discuss briefly something that is so necessary to our spiritual, emotional, and psychological health, but which has been virtually obliterated in the current culture in which we live. I call it Healing through a New Language. We need to reclaim this essential part of our lives, because God made us to incorporate this beautiful language into our lives.

“Be still and confess that I am God!” (Psalm 46:11)
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What is Apologetics?
To our Catholic readers: have you ever had had to stand up for your faith? Have you ever been hassled for being Catholic, or had your faith challenged by atheists? If you haven’t, who knows what you’re missing out on – it could be one of the best things that ever happens to you! It was for me, and I’ll get to that story in a later post.

What is Apologetics?
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20 Cool Things About Nuns in Habits
There’s so many great things about the sisterhood. Without a doubt, they’re one of the most recognizable people on earth, and there are several great things about that. Here’s 20 cool things about nuns in habits!

1. Guys don’t mistake them for available singles and accidentally hit on them
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