Readings and Reflections

SUNDAY READINGS AND REFLECTIONS

Reading 1 DT 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.'”

Responsorial Psalm PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9 R. (8)

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; let us acclaim the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice: “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, Where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.”

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2 1 COR 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.

Alleluia

MT 4:16 R. Alleluia, alleluia. The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light; on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 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.

To Teach, to Exorcise, to Heal

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 28, 2018 Mark 1:21-28

“Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. (Mk. 1:21)”

After calling the disciples, Jesus begins his ministry proper in Capernaum. There, Jesus performs a threefold task: teaching, exorcism (driving away the evil spirits) and healing. On the Sabbath, He immediately enters the synagogue and teaches with authority. He faces the unclean spirits who possess a man and rebukes them to leave. And in the next Sunday’s reading, he heals Peter’s mother-in-law (Mk. 1:29-39). All these he does with authority.

This threefold task is fundamental to the ministry of Jesus, and in the succeeding Sundays, we will listen to many of these actions.

Why are these fundamental to Jesus? The answer is because these three aspects make Jesus’ ministry a holistic one. Teaching is to form a sound mind, to drive away evil spirits is to build a holy spiritual life, and healing is to empower our bodies. It is precisely the Good News because the salvation Jesus brings covers all aspects of our humanity. As His disciples, we are all called to preach, drive evil spirits, and to heal.

Healing deals with the health of our bodies. It is true that we do not have the gift of healing, but all are called to respect our bodies and thus, to live a healthy lifestyle and avoid those things that will make us sick, like unnecessary stress and unhealthy food. To respect our bodies flows from the recognition that our bodies are the gift of God and as St. Paul says, “the Temple of the Holy Spirit.” Thus, abuse of our bodies means disrespecting the God who created us, and the Holy Spirit who gives us life. Yet, healing is not limited to our bodies but also includes healing our neighbors. It is to make sure that our brothers and sister have something to eat, something to clothe their bodies and a place to rest their bodies. It is not only to heal our own bodies but our society as well.

Exorcism is truly a special ministry in the Church, and only delegated to few people under the authority of the bishops, but every Christian is called to drive away evil spirits in their lives and hearts. It is our sacred duty to live holy lives, to receive the sacraments frequently, and to pray fervently. These are the ways to get closer to God, and thus, enable us to have healthy spiritual lives. To drive away evils also means to free ourselves from the bondage of sins and vices. It is a kind of spiritual healing.

The devil sometimes possesses our bodies, but most of the time, he possesses our hearts.

Our excessive attachment to things, like money, sexual pleasure, prestige, is a manifestation of evil spirits working in our hearts. It is true that not all are teachers by profession, but we are called to form our minds and other peoples’ mind as well. It is fundamental for the parents to teach the basic Christian values, like honesty, fidelity, and compassion, to their young children. It is also important to habitually reflect on our characters, to correct bad habits, and to improve ourselves. After all, education is not only transfer of information, but the formation of characters.

Thus, a right understanding of self will affect the way we act. I have been faithfully attending the Eucharist since my childhood, but when I learn more about its theology, history and its rootedness in the Scriptures and Christ Himself, the more I fall in love with the Eucharist.

We are the disciples of Christ, and it is our sacred mission and honor to participate in His threefold ministry in our sown ways and lives: to teach, to drive evil spirits and to heal.

Br. Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

(photo by Harry Setianto Sunaryo, SJ)

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