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Fr. Francis Martin

INTRO1ST READINGPSALM2ND READINGGOSPELCATENA AUREAFAITH SHARING

Sunday Introduction

4B Ordinary Time

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The Gospel’s core question

by Sr. Mary M. McGlone β€” 2018

β€œWhat have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” That’s the first question put to Jesus in the Gospel of Mark. It is really the core question of the Gospel. What are we to make of the fact that Mark puts that question in the mouth of an unclean spirit? To make matters worse, the demon got everything right by calling Jesus the Holy One of God and accusing him of having come to destroy evil spirits.

How did all of this strike the astute people of God in the synagogue? Mark tells us they were amazed and asked each other, β€œWhat is this?” Why was it was so easy for Jesus’ enemies and so hard for potential disciples to understand who Jesus was and what he was about?

Perhaps it’s the difference between our reactions when we are in danger or asked for a commitment. The defeated unclean spirit who spoke for the demon world knew the jig was up. The Holy One of God was stronger than all the demons. Everything about Jesus made it clear that it was only a matter of time before divine love would reveal their utter impotence. Meanwhile, the ordinary people who were not threatened stood around with their jaws dropping. It was too soon to make up their minds; they weren’t ready to make a commitment for or against Jesus.

Although the demons perceived clearly that Jesus was their conqueror, Mark doesn’t make that the centerpiece of this incident. It takes a while for human beings to get the picture, so Mark presents Jesus as a teacher with a brand new pedagogy. Jesus called people to hope for the kingdom of God, and then he showed them exactly what it looked like. His method was enticing rather than overpowering. His was all about freeing people.

As the folks were trying to get a handle on who Jesus was, they compared him to their religious leaders. The scribes were the official teachers of the day, the ones who had studied and interpreted the meaning of the Scriptures. They were religious professionals. Jesus simply professed faith β€” in word and deed.

Jesus astounded the people because he didn’t just talk about the law, he made God’s love tangible. There’s no other explanation for why some people simply dropped everything to follow him. Jesus’ β€œauthority” came through in his actions. Therefore, his appearance on the scene β€” on any scene β€” raised the same question: β€œWhat have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?”

Each of us must answer that question β€” probably more than once in our lives. Today’s responsorial psalm has us challenge ourselves four times over: β€œIf today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” While those gawking bystanders in the synagogue didn’t make any commitments after seeing and hearing Jesus, they did allow themselves to be curious. That was a necessary first step. They were letting their hearts be vulnerable. In the encyclical Evangelii Gaudium (β€œThe Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis says: β€œThe great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is … a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience” (#2). Francis quotes Pope Paul VI and says β€œour β€œtechnological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy” (#7). When Jesus showed people what the kingdom of God felt like he was whetting their appetite for joy.

Mark wrote his Gospel to instruct us about the Teacher. He knew that even those disciples who left everything behind had a long road ahead of them before they would understand just what it was that Jesus of Nazareth would do with them. Perhaps the challenge of today is not so much to make a new commitment, but to let our hearts be shaken. Rereading the Gospel of Mark, we are invited to look again at Jesus the Teacher who put every word of his preaching into action. We are invited to remember the moments when we felt his invitation and wanted to give him our all. Francis’ words call us to ask what might be dulling our hearts, drugging us into a complacency that accepts pleasure instead of seeking joy.

We’ve already heard the answer to the demon’s frightened β€œWhat have you to do with us?” It is the only thing we have heard Jesus teach up to this point in Mark’s Gospel. He’s making us an offer and we must choose to accept or refuse: β€œThe kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel!”

Β©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections and 2018 archive can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

First Reading

4B Ordinary Time

I will put my words into your mouth

Dt 18:15-20

  • In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses conveys God’s word to the people.
  • The promise of God delivered by Moses is that God will raise up another prophet.
  • The true prophet will deliver God’s word.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ OUR SUNDAY VISITOR INTRO πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ FIRST READING πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄

Proclamation Tips for Lectors

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Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • Over and over I hear the word prophet in the speech of Moses. The first mention comes at the beginning of the first sentence, and deserves a pause because it intrudes on us without preparation. From that point the reading furnishes many definitions and references to help us comprehend Moses’ meaning.
  • His origin is human, like that of Moses himself. The Lord will raise him up from among your own people. On the other hand, God will put his words in the prophet’s mouth; he shall tell you all that I command him. We believe that the word points toward Jesus, who speaks with divine authority in today’s Gospel.
  • The first time I read it, it sounded like a repeated phrasing of the same idea. After a few more run-throughs, though, I noticed a gradual development, starting with a request from the people (This is exactly what you requested) and ending with a severe order to speak in my name, with dire consequences for those who will not listen to my words which he speaks and for those who presume to speak in my name.
  • Who is this God about whom Moses testifies? Let it be the same loving and caring God who answers the hopes of a people: This was well said. And it is the God who asks that we take his approach very seriously, as a matter of life and death. I myself will make him answer for it.

Key elements

  • Central point: The succinct definition of a prophet and the need to pay attention to his words.
  • Message for our assembly: We must listen carefully to the prophets and teachers of our day. Let us sing spiritedly the warning in Psalm 95, our responsorial for today: Harden not your hearts.
  • I will challenge myself: To find behind these words the same God in whom we have put our trust, and to find my voice to express for the congregation our gratitude for the gift of so great a prophet.

SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org

Greg Warnusz

Introducing the reading at Mass

Ancient people believed a face-to-face encounter with God would be overpowering, even deadly. So they welcomed the idea that a prophet, a single human being, could bear the brunt of that encounter for them. They did not always welcome what the prophet had to report from God.

Oral interpretation

The liturgical setting

The gospel today depicts Jesus speaking with authority that commands the respect of the people (and, incidentally, of the evil spirits). By juxtaposing these readings, the editors of the Lectionary suggest that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise God makes through Moses in the first reading.

The historical and Literary background

If necessary, let the reader suspend for a moment the sunny assumption that all the Israelites were always devout monotheists. Their literature shows that, while they should have been so, for a long time many were not. Their background and environment urged them to be simply syncretists, that is, people who graft new religious ideas onto existing ones, untroubled by the contradictions. Syncretism let them try to cover all bets in the world of unknown spirits, unforeseeable threats and uncounted possibilities. The god we know as the One God, sometimes called Yahweh in the ancient literature, frankly had to compete for their loyalty over many generations.

In her book A History of God — The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993, and London: William Heinemann, Ltd.), Karen Armstrong says the book of Deuteronomy comes from a period when some of Judaism’s leaders were emphasizing two complementary ideas: the oneness of God and that God’s election of this tribe as his Chosen People. I suspect the latter was to make the former more palatable, for Armstrong says of the struggle to become monotheistic: “The God of the prophets was forcing Israelites to sever themselves from the mythical consciousness of the Middle East and go in quite a different direction from the mainstream. In the agony of Jeremiah, we can see what an immense wrench and dislocation this involved. Israel was a tiny enclave of Yahwism surrounded by a pagan world, and Yahweh was also rejected by many of the Israelites themselves. Even the Deuteronomist, whose image of God was less threatening, saw a meeting with Yahweh as an abrasive confrontation: he makes Moses explain to the Israelites, who are appalled by the prospect of unmediated contact with Yahweh, that God will send them a prophet in each generation to bear the brunt of the divine impact.” (p. 56)

Proclaiming it

So in the text at hand:

  • Don’t let the promise of a prophet sound like a routine thing, but the answer to a perennial serious problem. Make sure your listeners know that it’s a prophet that Moses is promising.
  • Describe clearly the problem to be solved, that this demanding God was unlike the comfortable, manipulable gods of Israel’s neighbors, “Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.”
  • Make the Lord sound kind and concerned in the next sentence, “And the Lord said to me, ‘This was well said. …'”
  • Even so, one can still die at the hands of this awesome God, either for disregarding the prophet, or for being a false prophet. Pause before “Whoever will not listen,” and assume a more stern tone of voice.
SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at LectorPrep.org

Reflections

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

Moses challenges Israel to listen to God’s voice

FIRST READING β€”Β This book presents itself as a farewell address given by Moses as the people of God are about to enter the Promised Land. The word means β€œSecond Law Book.” It is as if Moses were giving the law once more, since the people will now not have him to mediate between them and God. The word of God will be a sign of God’s presence in the midst of the people. A great prophet like Moses will speak God’s word again to a new people. The Christian community came to see this passage as a promise of the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.

Β© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

Moses farewell speech

FIRST READING β€”Β The book of Deuteronomy is Moses’s farewell speech to his people before they enter the Promised Land. He will not go with them. He consoles his people by telling them that God will raise a prophet like Moses and he will speak through him: β€œI will put my words into his mouth”(Dt. 18:18). The promise of a future prophet has led the Israelites down through the centuries to wonder whether or not a particular individual might in fact be this promised prophet. The early Christians saw Jesus and his ministry as the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy. Jesus’ teaching isgiven with authority and confirmed by miracles (as we see in today’s Gospel), the sign that God is with him.

Β©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission. Table of Contents

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Sr. Mary McGlone

A promise which is both disturbing and comforting

FIRST READING β€”Β The Book of Deuteronomy (the Second Law) is presented as Moses’ final testament to the Israelites before the conquest of Canaan. Just before our reading begins, the author has talked about Israel’s leaders. The first group of leaders to be established were judges: β€œYou shall appoint judges and officials … to administer true justice.” Next, we hear of kings: When you have come to the land, if you decide to have a king over you, β€œyou may indeed set over you a king whom the Lord, your God, will choose.” Speaking about the priests or the tribe of Levi, the author primarily explains how the people are to give material support to the priests (Deuteronomy 16:18, 17:14-15, 18:1-6). Those three groups comprised what we might think of as the institutional leadership of the community. The people were to follow this divinely sanctioned leadership and avoid the pagan shamans, magicians and anyone who sought oracles from the dead.

But God was not satisfied with only those roles. Therefore, Moses explained that when the people come to the land β€œA prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin.” This was, as if to say, that institutional leadership, the chosen judges, hereditary priests, and divinely sanctioned rulers were not enough to guarantee that God’s will and word would be communicated faithfully to the people.

Moses says that the prophet will not be extraordinary, no angel or stranger or celebrity, but someone from among their own kin. The prophet’s identity comes simply and wholly from speaking God’s word, following no command except divine inspiration. Thus, those who refuse to listen to the prophet will be treated as people who reject God. And, lest someone decide to usurp the role, God warns β€œif a prophet presumes to speak … an oracle I have not commanded … or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die” (18:20).

This reading, chosen here to reflect on Jesus, offers a promise that can be both disturbing and comforting. It will be disturbing to any who puts total trust in the institutions of religion because it recognizes that every human structure is fallible and the religious establishment, like any other, can fall into the self-service or rigidity that undermines its vocation to facilitate vibrant relationships with the living God. The comforting promise we hear is that God will never abandon us to our own devices, no matter how sacrosanct we might think they are. In the face of mediocre or distorted leadership, God will raise up prophets.

Given God’s promise to provide prophets to correct our communal course, we are left with the question of how to discern who is speaking on God’s behalf. Unfortunately, the reading does not give us the kit for a litmus test by which to determine who is genuine and who speaks for the false prophets, but there are some parameters. Like Moses, most prophets are reluctant to take on their role, often because they know that when people resist the word of God, they take it out on the messenger.

The message God speaks through the prophets usually demands better treatment of the poor and a conversion on the part of the comfortable and powerful. That leads to the realization that a prophetic message will always cause tension and virtually never bring obvious advantage to the messenger. In the long run, Moses might have summed up the criteria for discernment of prophets by admitting that his vocation was not his idea, but God-given for the sake of others and repeating β€œA prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you.”

Β©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2018 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Commentary Excerpts

πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ PASTORAL PERSPECTIVE πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ FIRST READING πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯

Pastoral Perspective

Prophets sitting in the pews

FIRST READINGβ€”A helpful sermon direction may be to explore the ways in which prophets minister from places other than the pulpit. What about the prophets sitting in the pews? Those who give their lives in public service, advocating for the poor, calling neighbors and communities to accountability through their deeds as well as words. The prophet Moses conveyed God’s wisdom and love through more than proclamations and sermons. He organized the nomadic community in the wilderness. He established God’s laws and judged disputes. He even fed the people and pastored their insecurities and concerns. What are the ways in which deeds are as prophetic as words? Where have all the prophets gone? Perhaps they are in the streets and soup kitchens, in the halls of justice and government. Perhaps they labor unrecognized by a world they are changing every day.

SOURCE: Β© 2008 Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 1

πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ THEOLOGY OF WORK πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ FIRST READING πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯

Theology of Work Commentary

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FIRST READINGβ€”No commentary for this reading.

SOURCE: Β© 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

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Life Recovery Bible

Β ___

FIRST READINGβ€”No commentary for this reading.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright Β© 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s First Reading

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

Moses promises a future prophet

In the First Reading from Moses’ last series of homilies to the children of Israel, he tells the people God will send another prophet as a future lawgiver and covenant mediator. Moses tells the people the future prophet will speak the word of God, and God commands them to listen to him and obey.


OFFICES OF PRIEST, PROPHET, AND KING

In Genesis 20:7, King Abimelech called Abraham a prophet.Β  The Gentile king considered Abraham to have a privileged standing before his God and was, therefore, a powerful intercessor.Β  The prophet is one of three authoritative offices of the covenant people of those anointed to serve God and His people in the offices of prophets, priests, and kings:

  • Do not touch my anointed ones, to my prophets you may do no harm (Ps 105:15 NJB).
  • You will dress your brother Aaron and his sons in these; you will then anoint them, invest them, and consecrate them to serve me in the priesthood (Ex 28:41 NJB).
  • Samuel said to Saul, “I am the man whom Yahweh sent to anoint you as king of his people Israel” (1 Sam 15:1 NJB).

Jesus Christ came to fulfill all three holy offices of prophet, priest, and king in a new and eternal Covenant (CCC 436, 1547).


GOD WILL SEND ANOTHER PROPHET LIKE MOSES

In our First Reading, God’s prophet Moses reminds the children of Israel how terrified they were to experience the Theophany of God at Mt. Sinai.Β  They begged Moses to act as their mediator in conveying God’s messages in a less frightening way (Ex 19:16-25; 20:18-19). God agreed to their petition, and Moses became the mediator of the Sinai Covenant.Β  God promises the covenant people that one day He will send another prophet like Moses.Β  He also defines how the people will know if God legitimately sends a prophet:

  1. He had to be an Israelite.
  2. He must only speak the words God put in his mouth.
  3. He was required to teach the people with authority.
  4. He had to be 100% accurate in his teachings (in agreement with the Law) and his prophecies, or he was not a true prophet.

God’s prophet had a duty to the people, but the people also had an obligation to the prophet.Β  They had to listen to God’s prophet and obey, or they would face divine judgment.Β  If the prophet proved to be false, his punishment was death (Dt 18:20).


JESUS AS THE PROMISED PROPHET

Since the passage speaks of the future prophet like Moses in the singular (verses 15, 18-19), both Jewish and Christian tradition see this passage as referring to the promised Redeemer-Messiah of Genesis 3:15 and the one promised by the prophets.Β  The New Testament Gospels identify Jesus with the promised prophet, who is the new Moses:

  • The Temple hierarchy sent a delegation of priests and Levites to question John the Baptism and ask him if he was the promised prophet (Jn 1:19-21).
  • The Samaritan woman recognized that Jesus was a prophet (Jn 4:19).
  • After Jesus fed the over 5,000 men on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Seeing the sign that he had done, the people said, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world” (Jn 6:14).
  • When Jesus rode into Jerusalem in fulfillment of the prophecies of Jacob-Israel and the prophet Zechariah (Gen 49:11 and Zec 9:9), the people shouted the messianic greeting, “Hosanna to the son of David.”Β  And other people asked, “Who is this man,” the Jewish crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in the Galilee” (Mt 21:10-11).

For Christians, a single event in the Gospels unquestionably reveals that Jesus isn’t just “a prophet,” but He is the promised prophet in Deuteronomy 18:18-19. God’s command in Deuteronomy is that the people must listen to the prophet like Moses that He will send to speak His words.Β  On the Mt. of Transfiguration, when Jesus revealed Himself in His glory to the Apostles Peter, James, and John in the presence of Moses and Elijah, the Apostles heard a voice from heaven commanding: “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor.Β  Listen to him” (Mt 17:5; emphasis added; also see Mk 9:7; Lk 9:35).Β  The command to “listen,” found in all three Synoptic Gospel accounts of the Transfiguration, is the same command to “listen” in Deuteronomy 18:19.Β  Also, Jesus testified to the divine origin of His words when He said: “And the word that you hear is not my own: it is the word of the Father who sent me” (Jn 14:24) in fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy that the future prophet like him would speak the word of God.

Jesus also revealed to the Jewish crowd that He was the prophet Moses prophesied and wrote about in Deuteronomy 18:18-19.Β  Jesus said: “Do not imagine that I am going to accuse you before the Father: you have placed your hopes on Moses, and Moses will be the one who accuses you.Β  If you really believed him, you would believe me too, since it was about me that he was writing; but if you will not believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say?” (Jn 5:45-47).

And, in his teaching at the Temple after Pentecost, St. Peter spoke of the promise of Christ’s Second Coming and referred to the prophecy of “a prophet like Moses” in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.Β  Peter told the Jewish crowd: “Then he will send you the Christ he has predestined, that is Jesus, whom heaven must keep till the universal restoration comes which God proclaimed, speaking through his holy prophets.Β  Moses, for example, said, ‘From among your brothers the Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me; you will listen to whatever he tells you.Β  Anyone who refuses to listen to that prophet shall be cut off from the people.’Β  In fact, all the prophets that have ever spoken, from Samuel onwards, have predicted these days” (Acts 3:20-24 NJB).Β  Later, addressing the Sanhedrin and giving his witness of Jesus as the Messiah, St. Stephen referred to the same prophecy (Acts 7:37).


RESPONSIBILITIES OF A PROPHET

The prophet was God’s representative to the people when the civil and religious authorities neglected to fulfill their duties as holy leaders.Β  In the name of God, the prophets chastised priests and kings who failed the covenant people, like the prophets Samuel (1 Sam 3:19-4:1) and Nathan (2 Sam 12:1-15).Β  They also called down the judgments of covenant lawsuits upon an apostate covenant people like the prophets Isaiah (Is 1:2-4; 34:8), Jeremiah (Jer 1:16; 11:1-8), Ezekiel (Ez 11:10-12; 17:19-21), Hosea (2:4/2-15/13; 12:3/2), and Jesus of Nazareth (Mt 24:31-36).Β  Jesus Christ is God’s supreme prophet, whose words are the pathway to life for all who hear and obey!Β  The Virgin Mary gave the best advice for us in this regard when she told the servants at the wedding at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5)!

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Responsorial Psalm

4B Ordinary Time

Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9

The people’s response to the prophetic word must be one of total acceptance.

God’s voice in our lives

The refrain the community sings with our responsorial psalm takes us back to the Exodus, the journey Moses had just completed in the setting of the first reading. But like all the psalms, it has applications far beyond its historical context. The basic thrust of Psalm 95 calls us to reverence the God to whom we owe our existence and salvation.
We repeat: β€œIf today you hear his voice…” That not only drives home the content of the psalm, but reflects on the most basic attitudes called forth by our scriptural tradition. It reminds us that we believe that God speaks to us continuously through Scripture and tradition, through people and cultures and all of creation. (For further reflection, read the papal encyclical, β€œLaudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”)

Our God is not a mythical god, someone to learn about as we might learn about Caesar. Our God invites us into personal relationship, into an experience of love that illuminates and far outshines dogma. When we sing β€œIf today you hear his voice,” we remind ourselves to be on the lookout, to be listening all day long. Then, based on that belief, we tell ourselves, β€œharden not your heart.” That reminds us to cultivate a heart of flesh, to be vulnerable to God’s word and revelation.

We express loving vulnerability as we bow down and kneel before God. Those ancient gestures express the idea that we are thoroughly disarmed; they speak in body language to say that we put ourselves in God’s hands and at God’s disposal. Performing those gestures helps us deepen the attitudes they symbolize.

The psalm’s reference to God as the rock of our salvation and to Meribah and Massah, recall Exodus 17, the story of how the people lost hope in God and complained that they were about to die of thirst. While their complaint seems most natural, their salvation came from an unimaginable source: Moses, following God’s instruction, struck a rock with his staff causing life-saving water to flow freely for them.

As we sing today’s refrain, we are invited to remember when and how we have heard God’s voice in our lives. To listen well, we must also allow God’s word to reach our heart and thus come to unique expression in whatever we do today and for the rest of our lives.

Β©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ INTRODUCTION πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ PSALM πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄

Commentary Excerpts

πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ THEOLOGY OF WORK πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ PSALM πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 LIFE RECOVERY COMMENTARY 🟩🟩 PSALM 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Life Recovery Bible

Surrendering our lives to God

95:1-7 We all know how frightening it is to lose control of our life. For this very reason, we may hesitate to entrust ourself to God. Can he be trusted? God wants us to remember that when we surrender our life to him, he regards us with the same concern that a kind shepherd feels for his sheep. If a watchful shepherd is around, the sheep have little to fear.

SOURCE: Content taken from Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition. Copyright Β© 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

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Bible Study

Have Hearts that are to Opened God

In the Responsorial Psalm, we hear the invitation to come to the Lord in the liturgy of worship. The psalm’s theme is that God is our Divine King and Creator who nourishes and guides us as a shepherd cares for his flock. The psalm’s message for us is, like sheep that know their shepherd’s voice and responded in trust and obedience by coming to him, we must recognize and trust the voice of Christ calling us to salvation.

In the opening two verses, the psalmist gives an invitation to come to the Lord in worship, an invitation he will repeat in verse 6.Β  The invitation suggests this was a psalm that faithful pilgrims sang on the journey to the Jerusalem Temple.Β  Verses 6-7a express the psalm’s theme: God is our Divine King and Creator who nourishes and guides us as a shepherd cares for his flock.

In verse 7b, we hear the voice of God speaking to His people, calling them to listen to His voice today!Β  It is a message that echoes down through salvation history.Β  Verses 8-10 carry God’s warning to all generations that those who hear His voice.Β  They must not act like the children of Israel when they tested Him in the wilderness journey out of Egypt at Meribah (Ex 17:1-7) and Massah (Num 20:2-13).Β  On both occasions, the Israelites hardened their hearts against God.Β  They “tempted” and “tested” Him by questioning His goodness and fidelity and attempted to force Him to act in their favor as if His previous deeds and acts of mercy were not enough to prove His love for the people.Β  Do not test God in your unbelief; be faithful, obedient, and believe!

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Second Reading

4B Ordinary Time

Key Topics

I want you to be free of all worries

1 Cor 7:32-35

  • Some of the early Christian communities found Paul to be a true prophet.
  • The Christians at Corinth apparently wrote to Paul, asking him a series of practical questions about how to live the Christian life.
  • The First Letter to the Corinthians is Paul’s answer to their questions.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ OUR SUNDAY VISITOR INTRO πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ SECOND READING πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄

Proclamation Tips for Lectors

🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫 LECTOR’S NOTES 🟫🟫 SECOND READING 🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫

Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • he apostle begins this passage saying: I should like you to be free of anxieties. This wish forms part of the prayer we pray before the greeting of peace in the mass. I will let this sentence be the controlling sentence for the reading, because that word anxious appears four more times.
  • I can’t help wondering about the irony in the apostle’s wish: Free from anxiety? – when whatever state of life to which we aspire will lead us to be anxious about something! Let’s leave that for the homilist, and let us play it straight.
  • He compares and contrasts unmarried people with married people. I have to read with understanding, so that my listeners will hear the entire message and not misconstrue it.
  • I do not hear explicit preference or judgment over the two states of life, only the facts that are clear to everyone, even ourselves. There are two pairs of contrasts, each a mirror image of the other. To be anxious about the things of the Lord or anxious about the things of the world, as we know, do not limit either the unmarried (including celibate) or the married in their spiritual alertness. Paul was realistic enough to know that few could imitate his example; see verse 7.
  • I must be the first to avoid misunderstanding the passage. There are many words of guidance and caution and I will try to recapture them. It is for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint.
  • The apostle’s priority comes out at the end of the passage: for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction. The passage itself is taken from a long discussion of the proper relation between men and women. The church of Corinth was taken by extreme lifestyles and quick to judge one as superior to another. The apostle was addressing that specific church, and in the context of the imminent return of the Lord.

Key elements

  • Central point: Each calling in the church has its place and its obligations.
  • The message for our assembly: According to the apostle, the married have as their first obligation to please each other, the man to please his wife and the woman to please her husband. Let us laypersons keep in mind this calling above all others. At the same time we can value an undivided life as essential for keeping the others alert to the Lord’s coming.
  • I will challenge myself: To read with understanding, allowing my listeners to overhear a careful discussion from the early church, pausing as I go and reminding everyone of our higher calling.
SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org
Greg Warnusz

Introducing the reading at Mass

Saint Paul continues his teachings about how to be prepared for the imminent return of Jesus in glory. That coming should make people put their priorities in order.

Oral interpretation

The historical background

This letter comes from a time when Christians believed that Jesus was about to return in glory, bringing history to its climax. (Many other factors influenced the letter, as we saw last week, but it’s the expectation of Jesus’ return that governs today’s passage.) Paul here urges the presently unmarried to stay that way, for the little time that they all have left, and remain focused on the Lord’s coming.

Proclaiming it

Since the Apostle is contrasting states of life and their respective anxieties, use contrasting tones of voice as you move from clause to clause and sentence to sentence. Your listeners should hear the difference between the married and unmarried, between concern for the world and concern for the Lord.

SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at LectorPrep.org

Reflections

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

We must live up to our vocation

SECOND READING β€”Β St. Paul continues the discussion on the urgency of working for the kingdom of God. Marriage may be a distraction from that work. Paul, of course, communicates his own sense of mission with its unique focus on Christ. He wishes that all Christians could be so single-minded. In other places, he will speak mosthighly of marriage: the great β€œmystery”(sacrament) that is a living sign of Christ’s love for the Church. Here, for the Corinthians at this time in history, there should be no division of spiritual energy. Celibacy, as undivided commitment, is urged for them.

Β© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

We are to conform our lives to Christ

SECOND READING β€”Β There is a sense of urgency in this reading as there is in the First and Third Readings. Paul believes Jesus’ Second Coming is imminent so he sets out to show his readers how to live in a world that is transitory. In light of the fact that the world will soon be coming to an end, it is foolish to treat as permanent that which is transitory. Paul is not suggesting that people sit around and do nothing but that their primary focus should be on β€œhigher things” – that they should use their time to conform their lives to Christ.

Β©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

The quality of one’s commitment to God

SECOND READING β€”Β One unenlightened in the context of today’s readingmay conclude that Paul, a celibate and unmarried man, believes that married life is inferior to celibate life. But Paul is not saying that. When writing his letter to the Corinthians, he tells them that as Jesus’ Second Coming is imminent, planning a lifelong marriage isnot a good idea. One would be better served to focus on spiritual things, on being ready to receive the Lord when he comes. Paul knows from personal experience that his single state allows him to be more focused on the things of God, but by no means is he saying that the married state is inferior to a life of celibacy. Paul is more concerned with the quality of one’s commit-ment to God than with a particular state in life.

Β©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Commentary Excerpts

πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ CONTEMPORARY SIGNIFICANCE πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ SECOND READING πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯

Contemporary Significance

Lifelong faithfulness

SECOND READINGβ€”These verses also underline the consistent biblical call to lifelong faithfulness which wedding vows normally promise. There are numerous reasons for a preserving marriage even when we don’t feel like it, but one that modern people often ignore is that of keeping our promises. β€œFalling in love” does not constitute adequate grounds for marriage. β€œFalling out of love” does not grant a person the right to divorce. Warren Wiersbe suggests five questions to be answered when considering marriage, which aptly sum up Paul’s concerns in this chapter: β€œWhat is my gift from God? Am I marrying a believer? Are the circumstances such that marriage is right? How will marriage affect my service for Christ? Am I prepared to enter into this union for life?”13 These questions demand far more attention in contemporary Christian families, youth groups, and singles gatherings than they usually receive.

SOURCE: Β© 2009 The NIV Application Commentary

πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ THEOLOGY OF WORK πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ SECOND READING πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯

Theology of Work Commentary

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SECOND READINGβ€” No commentary for this reading

SOURCE: Β© 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

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Life Recovery Bible

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No Commentary β€” for this passage

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright Β© 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s Second Reading

  • No exegesis for this reading
Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

Living without anxiety in service to the Lord

In the Second Reading, St. Paul, empowered by the Holy Spirit, taught with that same authority.Β  He received his commission to preach the Gospel of salvation from Jesus and the mission to bring the “Light of Christ” to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15).Β  St. Paul obediently preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a tutor and guide to Christian communities across Asia Minor and Greece on their journeys to eternal salvation.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

PAUL OFFERS HIS OPINION ON CELIBACY

Writing in the spring of AD 57, St. Paul tells the Corinthian Christians in 1 Cor 7:25 that he has no direction from the Lord in these matters but is giving his opinion.Β  He believed it best for Christians to remain as they were: the married to stay married and the celibate to remain celibate (1 Cor 7:26-28).Β  Paul also expressed the opinion that in answering the call to devote one’s life to the Lord, it is a commitment better achieved in a state of celibacy to not have a heart divided between the Lord and family obligations.


JESUS RAISES QUESTION OF CELIBACY

In Matthew chapter 19, Jesus also raised the question of a consecrated celibacy when He said: “Some are incapable of marriage … because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.Β  Whoever can accept this ought to accept it” (Mt 19:12 NAB).Β  For this reason, the Latin Rite of the Church requests the commitment of a celibate priesthood as a discipline of greater devotion.


CHURCH’S TRADITION

The Catechism teaches: “All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate ‘for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.’Β  Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to ‘the affairs of the Lord,’ they give themselves entirely to God and to men. Β Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church’s minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart, celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God” (CCC 1579 quoting Mt 19:12 and 1 Cor 7:32).Β  Catholic priests in the Latin Rite live in imitation of Christ, who was Himself celibate.Β  The Church also welcomes the service of consecrated virgins who live together in a life of chastity in service to God and humanity in imitation of the Virgin Mary, who was a virgin her entire life (see CCC 1618-20).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Gospel Reading

4B Ordinary Time

Key Topics

He has authority over all creation

Mk 1:21-28

  • The Gospels reveal Jesus to be the true prophet, the one who not only brings the word of God but who is the Word of God.
  • In the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, there are several stories illustrating Jesus’ authority.
  • Today’s passage tells of Jesus casting out a demon. The people are amazed because the demon obeys Jesus.

SOURCE: Our Sunday VisitorπŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ OUR SUNDAY VISITOR INTRO πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ GOSPEL πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄

Proclamation Tips

🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫 LECTOR’S NOTES 🟫🟫 GOSPEL READING 🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫

Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • I have always been impressed with the speed of Mark, how we are thrust into the ministry of Jesus almost from verse 1. People have already asked whether John was the prophet. Here they are asking: What is this? A new teaching with authority.
  • The passage begins with the Sabbath meetings, where Jesus entered the synagogue and taught, and where the people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught as one having authority. I want to catch that astonishment in my own words, since I encounter such authority rarely in my own life. If I get it right, I can help my listeners to imagine themselves witnessing everything and catching the enthusiasm.
  • Then I hear of a confrontation, the first of many in Mark: the presence of a man with an unclean spirit, who with his loud outburst would be unwelcome either in the synagogue or in our churches today. I can give an indication with my inflection that the man has embarrassed everyone present, but that for all that he is carrying on like a real prophet: I know who you are! I am not dealing here with some identity issue on the level of make-believe Smallville, but with a cosmic confrontation between the Holy One and our enemies. This would be a good time to pause to let the urgency of these words get through.
  • Jesus refused to take the bait and play the identity game. He rebuked him. He commands even the unclean spirits. It shows me that Jesus is concerned more with people than with slogans, and his actions have as much priority as his words.
  • Finally the people have their say. His fame spread everywhere.

Key elements

  • Climax: The only words of Jesus in the passage, simple but decisive: Quiet! Come out of him! We miss men and women of God in our world and are inspired when we meet them.
  • Message for our assembly: Here is another example of how Jesus reached out to people in need, and it should inspire us to reach out in our own surroundings.
  • I will challenge myself: To bring to life the Holy One of God, recognized with such vehemence by the demons but so easily marginalized by our churches today

Word to Eucharist

Of course we have answered the call of Jesus; we even call him Son of God even if we say it by rote. Where does church come in here? How does our presence in this procession relate to our answer? Do we believe that we can answer him only if we assemble here with our brothers and sisters?

SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org

Reflections

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

We are called to hear the voice of Jesus

GOSPEL β€”This Gospel always lets the actions of Jesus speak as loudly, if not more loudly, than his words. The deeds are themselves teachings as to who Jesus is. Jesus works with the authority and power of God; therefore…! In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is presented as a teacher, but unlike Matthew and Luke, it is not so much the content of the teaching but the power of the works of Jesus thatis reported. The works of Jesus are effective. For example, the exorcism of the person possessed by an unclean spirit demonstrates that the power of evil is being overcome in Jesus Christ.

The β€œHoly One” in Jewish Scriptures refers to God, usually. In Psalm 16:10, it is used in reference to a human being. When used for Jesus, it means that he istheone who uniquely reveals the power of God working through him.

The Gospel of Mark is divided in halves (1:1 to 8:26 and 8:27 to the end.) In the first half, Jesus reveals himself in parables and in divinely empowered deeds. Then, at Caesarea Philippi, Peter proclaims what the whole community of faith now needs to know and to testify: Jesus is the Messiah! ButJesus needs to be recognized for what he does (the works of God) rather than for who he is. In the Bible,deeds are the proof of who a person is. One who teaches with authority is one like Moses. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus sits on a mountain to teach, as Moses did. Here it is claimed that he has authority. Authority comes from God. The unclean spirits respond to him. Who but God can direct those spiritsthathave rebelled against him? He is a prophet like Moses.

But he is more than Moses. He has become the incarnate image of God himself. Evil spirits obey him, though he is not evil himself. The reign of God has become presentin him because he can overcome the Evil one.

The synagogue was the place where the teaching of God’s law took place. There were no priests here. Laity ran the synagogue. They were not bound by the requirements of Temple worship. Jesus was not of the priestly class. He was very much at home in synagogues. He is the Holy One promised in the Book of Deuteronomy. The demons recognize who he was. He is a prophet like Moses. His authority is not derived from texts that other people have written. He derives hisauthority from God, a Prophet.

Let us not be too quick to claim that he is equal to the Father here.

Β© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

Jesus begins his ministry

GOSPEL β€”Β Having called a handful of disciples, Jesus begins his teaching and healing ministry. Mark notes how impressed the people are with Jesus. They are spellbound by him. He teaches with authority unlike their own religious leaders. What is this authority? It is the authority of God. Like the prophets of old, Jesus is anointed with God’s Spirit, which enables him to touch people’s hearts. His teaching is accompanied by signs and wonders. When Jesus teaches, things happen: the sick are healed, the crippled walk, and the oppressed are liberated. All of this leaves the people in awe.

Also in today’s Gospel, Jesus begins his battle with the β€œpowers of darkness”—which will be a central part of his mission. Here Jesus defeats Satan. He bids him to leave the man. In so doing, Jesus not only shows compassion for the troubled person, but he also announces the beginning of the messianic era and the Reign of God. The Gospel builds on the First Reading: Jesus is seen as the prophet whom Moses spoke about. He is a prophet in word and in deed. He is the living oracle of God. Mark uses this story to teach and encourage his community 30 or 40 years later. They are experiencing β€œhostile forces” in their persecution by Jewish leaders and the Romans. If their lives are firmly rooted in Christ, they will be able to withstand the evil forces attacking them

Β©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?

GOSPEL β€”Β When we read the Gospel of Mark with fresh eyes we see how Mark is not only fast-paced, but tries to communicate the excitement and amazement people felt as they encountered Jesus. This infers that Jesus himself exhibited great excitement about the message he was communicating. The selection we hear today focuses on the question of just who Jesus of Nazareth is, or as the unclean spirit asked, β€œWhat have you to do with us?”

First of all, Jesus was a reverent Jew who went to the synagogue in Capernaum where he had taken up residence. Capernaum was a rather prosperous city of around 10,000 people. Situated on a trade route, it was also blessedly distant from Herod’s administrative capital of Tiberius.

The two ideas that Mark emphasizes in this passage are that Jesus was a teacher and that he exercised authority. If we ask what it was that Jesus taught, Mark comes up quite short on prose. Until now and for some time to come we will hear only 19 words of Jesus’ teaching: β€œThis is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The rest of what Jesus says between the beginning of the Gospel and Chapter 2, Verse 19 is dialogue with disciples, demons and people in need of healing.

That paucity of verbal content makes it all the more striking that the people would be so impressed with Jesus’ teaching. Mark tells us that the people saw Jesus’ authority in distinct contrast to that of the scribes. The scribes were key religious authorities. They were biblical exegetes and could make binding interpretations of the law. Many of them were Pharisees and they had earned their stripes through formal study and teaching. Jesus had none of that pedigree.

According to Mark, Jesus’ authority came from the simple fact that his word was borne out in deed. That’s what we see in the expulsion of the unclean spirit. He preached about the kingdom of God and his word made it appear. His word was like the divine word of Genesis, creating the very reality of which he spoke.

As Mark weaves his Gospel message, he shows that the people who saw Jesus were amazed and questioning one another. They saw his authority, but didn’t know what to make of it. At the same time, the unclean spirit, a representative of the demonic world, knew right away what Jesus was all about. The question β€œHave you come to destroy us?” suggests what the next phrase makes explicit: The demons recognized that Jesus had been sent by God and their power was impotent against him. It would take the disciples a little longer to answer the question of what Jesus meant for them.

β€œWhat have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” Mark puts this question before every reader of the Gospel. He invites us to journey with him through the rest of the story to learn just what it means that Jesus’ word and deed brought the time of fulfillment.

Β©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Fr. George Smiga

Demons in Holy Places

GOSPEL β€” Perhaps the most useful question we could ask about today’s Gospel is: What is an unclean spirit doing in a synagogue? It was commonly accepted in the world of Jesus that evil moved around the world in the form of unclean spirits or demons. Sickness, family trouble, even natural disasters such as storms and earthquakes were the result of these evil spirits at work. So why is this unclean spirit in a synagogue? A synagogue was a holy place, a place where Jews gathered to study the law and to praise God. Jesus enters the synagogue and teaches with authority. We have a holy place, a holy assembly, and a holy teaching. In the midst of all this goodness, a demon cries out, β€œWhat do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” What is this spirit doing there? We certainly presume that he did not come to listen to Jesus’ teaching.

I would like to suggest to you that the Gospel situates the unclean spirit in the synagogue to teach us something about evil. Sometimes we think that evil can be limited to only certain places, that unclean spirits can be restricted to the graveyard, the deep woods, or where thieves gather. Sometimes we imagine that if we are very good people, if we love and act with justice, if we have faith in God, then we can keep evil away from where we are. This Gospel warns us that such thinking is naΓ―ve. If an unclean spirit can shout out in a holy synagogue and in the presence of Jesus the Messiah, then evil can appear anywhere. Evil in the form of sickness, anxiety, even in natural disasters seems to have the ability to move freely throughout the world. It attacks people indiscriminately: the rich and the poor, the moral and the immoral, those who believe in God and those who do not. Evil seems to have access to every place and person.

Now, two important truths flow from this insight. The first is this: When evil touches our lives, we should not automatically conclude that we have done something wrong. When a family member is killed in a tragic accident, when someone we love is diagnosed with cancer, when we have to deal with a death, addiction, or divorce, we should not necessarily conclude, β€œIf only I had been a better person, I could have kept this evil away.” Evil has more access than we imagine. I assure you if you go down to the Cleveland Clinic and look in the cancer ward, not everyone there will be a criminal. If you survey the people who were so tragically killed last year in the tsunami, you would find that many of them were wonderful people who prayed regularly. Evil moves around our world and has access to every person and place.

This leads to the second important truth: If evil has as such access to our lives, then our strategy cannot be how can I prevent evil from coming, but rather how do I deal with evil when it arrives? If we cannot keep evil away, then we must ask, β€œHow can I confront it?” Here is where faith is helpful. We believe in faith that we have access to the power of God, a power that is stronger than the power of evil. So when evil touches our life, we can draw upon our faith in God and ask for God’s assistance. Faith allows us to have courage in the face of sickness, to have hope after divorce, to find strength even in failure and peace in the face of death. The same Jesus who drove the demon out of the synagogue is our Lord. We can turn to him and ask for his strength as we face the demons in our lives.

If an unclean spirit can appear in a holy synagogue, evil can touch us in any place. Therefore, when evil enters our lives, it does not make sense to ask: β€œWhat did I do to invite the demon in?” Instead, we should turn to the Lord and ask him to drive the demon out.

Β©2021 Building on the Word.org. All Rights Reserved. More homilies can be read at Building on the Word website.

Commentary Excerpts

πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ CHURCH’S LIVING TRADITION πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ GOSPEL πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯

Church's Living Tradition

Exorcisms in Church Tradition

GOSPELβ€”Following the example of Jesus, Catholic tradition has always recognized the need for exorcisms to free those possessed by evil spirits. Although sensationalized by movies like The Exorcist, exorcisms are done only in strictly defined cases and according to rigorous guidelines. The Catechism states: β€œIn a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism. The solemn exorcism, called β€˜a major exorcism,’ can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness” (1673).

SOURCE: Β© 2008 Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture

πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ PASTORAL PERSPECTIVE πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ GOSPEL πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯

Pastoral Perspective

Relation between religion and health

GOSPELβ€”So what is one in our time to make of these ancient accounts of Jesus’ healing the afflicted, sick, deranged? First of all, one must note with seriousness the prominence of healing in Jesus’ ministry. Mark, more than any other Gospel writer, emphasizes Jesus’ miraculous power to heal and to exorcise. Of the eighteen miracles recorded in Mark, thirteen have to do with healing, and four of the thirteen are exorcisms. If nothing else, the early introduction of Jesus’ healing power and the dominance of healing among the miracle stories suggest again what the Scriptures had been hinting all along; that is, the intractable relation between religion and health.

SOURCE: Β© 2008 Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 1

πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ CONTEMPORARY SIGNIFICANCE πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ GOSPEL πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯

Contemporary Significance

Ministering to the untouchables in our society

GOSPELβ€”The miracles in this section reveal that Jesus is not someone who is aloof, inaccessible, or detached. Our culture does not touch, and many people live in isolation from others. We seal ourselves off from one another with our privacy fences and retreat to the inner sanctum of the family room. The church is sometimes in danger of doing the same by retreating to its members-only, fully equipped Family Life Center, which becomes a safe cocoon from contact with the harsh realities of a disease-ridden, sin-sick world. We want others quarantined from us so that they will not infect us. But those who bear the name of Christ need to minister in the name of their Lord to those who are the untouchables in our society.

The church needs to minister in a nonjudgmental way. The attitude toward leprosy in biblical times is no different from our attitude toward certain diseases today. Some people are afflicted from illnesses that we assume they have contracted because of some sin. Many pronounce them guilty for supposedly having committed worse sins than their own and treat their disease as a curse that sets them adrift from the community and from God’s grace. What does it accomplish to declare piously that they are receiving in their bodies the just penalty of their sin (Rom. 1:27) and to stigmatize and ostracize those who already despair? It can only drive people further into despair.

SOURCE: Β© 2011 The NIV Application Commentary

πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ THEOLOGY OF WORK πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ GOSPEL πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯

Theology of Work Commentary

___

GOSPELβ€” No commentary for this reading.

SOURCE: Β© 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 LIFE RECOVERY COMMENTARY 🟩🟩 GOSPEL 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Life Recovery Bible

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No Commentary β€” for this passage

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright Β© 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s Gospel

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

Jesus Teaches in the Synagogue and Cures a Demon-Possessed Man

In the Gospel Reading, the people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching because He “taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.”Β  Jesus taught them with a true understanding of Scripture and the need for the necessary application of God’s words in their lives.Β  Even those possessed by demon-spirits recognized His authority. Β Jesus is the promised prophet greater than Moses from the First Reading, and He is the supreme prophet, lawgiver, and covenant mediator of a new and greater covenant (Heb 8:6, 13; 9:15; 12:24; CCC 1962, 1964, 1965).


OBSERVING SABBATH OBLIGATION

After His baptism by John the Baptist in Perea on the east side of the Jordan River (Mk 1:9-11; Jn 1:28) and His temptation (Mk 1:12-13), Jesus traveled north to the region of the Galilee and the fishing village of Capernaum.Β  The covenant people worshipped, prayed, and offered their sacrifices at the liturgical worship services that took place twice daily, seven days a week, at God’s holy Jerusalem Temple.Β Β  They could also observe the Sabbath obligation at their local village Synagogue when they prayed as a community and studied Scripture.Β  As a faithful member of the covenant community, Jesus kept the Sabbath obligation in the Capernaum Synagogue.Β  Our New Covenant worship services have elements of both the Synagogue and the Temple.Β  We study the Word of God in the Liturgy of the Word and take part in the sacrifice by coming forward to the holy altar to offer our lives to Christ and receiving His gift of grace in the Eucharist.


TWO GROUPS CHALLENGED JESUS

In verse 22, the people compared Jesus’ teaching to the scribes.Β  Unlike the scribes, Jesus taught with authority and a genuine understanding of Sacred Scripture.Β  The scribes and Pharisees were part of the Old Covenant religious leadership.Β  From the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, these two groups continually challenged Jesus’ teaching authority.

  • The scribes were usually Levites (the lesser ministers who served the chief priests) and received training as teachers of the Law.Β  The Pharisees were the most influential religious sect in first-century AD Judea, and many scribes aligned themselves with the Pharisees.
  • The Pharisees were strict interpreters of the Law and considered themselves more righteous than the ordinary covenant members they held in contempt.Β  They also controlled the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court.Β  Jesus will severely chastise the Pharisees for their lack of charity and hypocrisy on His last teaching day in Jerusalem before His Passion when He calls them a “brood of vipers” (see Mt 23:1-36).

The other sects with influence in this period were the Sadducees (mostly represented by the chief priests and the Herodian aristocracy) and the ultra-conservative Essenes.Β  The Essenes lived in cities and separate communities, dedicating themselves to asceticism, voluntary poverty, mysticism, and daily ritual immersion (baptisms of repentance and purification).


THE MAN WITH AN UNCLEAN SPIRIT

In verses 23-26, Jesus healed a man possessed by an “unclean spirit.”Β  The “spirit” is “unclean” because it resists the holiness of God.Β  The demon-spirit knows and fears Jesus, recognizing not only His true identity but His divine power. Β Demons are spiritual beings that are the fallen angels created by God to be good but who, through their own free will choice, became evil by rebelling against God to follow Satan, himself once an angel (see Rev 12:7-9 and CCC 391-95). Jesus commanded the spirit to be silent when it called out His true identity in verse 25.Β  Jesus did not want a demon spirit to witness to His true identity.Β  His identity had to be revealed slowly through His acts and His teachings.


THE MYSTERY OF JESUS’ TRUE IDENTITY

Many commentators see Jesus’ unfolding story in St. Mark’s Gospel as centered on the “mystery” of His true identity and the mystery of God’s divine plan that Jesus came to fulfill.Β  The Greek word “mysterion” in the singular is used just once in Mark 4:11, and its context in that passage is the “kingdom” of Jesus Christ.Β  “Mysterion” in the singular does not appear in the other Gospels where it only appears in the plural (Mt 13:11; Lk 8:10).Β  The word only appears in the singular again in Romans 16:25.Β  It is “the mystery” associated with Jesus’ true identity as the Kingdom of God incarnate and God’s reign that is breaking into the world to radically alter human life forever. Related to this revelation of the Kingdom is the sense that Jesus’ true identity must remain a secret until the climax of His mission.Β  Concerning the mystery of Jesus’ true identity in Mark’s Gospel:

  • Demons knew it and were silenced (1:44, 3:11; 5:5).
  • The disciples came to understand His true identity but were warned not to reveal it (1:44; 3:12; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26, 30).
  • Jesus taught in parables to conceal His mission and identity to those “outside” the Kingdom who were not willing to understand.Β  God only granted understanding of the mystery to those who embraced Christ with an open heart (4:10-12).

CHURCH TRADITION

Following Jesus’ example of casting out demon spirits who torment humans, the Church has always recognized the need for freeing victim souls from the power of demon spirits through the rite of exorcism (CCC 1673).Β  The Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation offer protection from demon spirits through the filling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul of the believer.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Catena Aurea

4B Ordinary Time

The Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) is Thomas Aquinas’ compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels. It seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Church Fathers.

Annotated index of Church Fathers used in commentary

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaeaβ€”that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the β€œCappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the β€œCappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a β€œDoctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (β€œthe Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a β€œDoctor of the Church”
  • Basil β€œthe Great” – one of the β€œCappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of ConstanΒ­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – β€œthe Venerable Bede”; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as β€œthat than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

Mk 1:21-28

1:21–22

21. And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.

22. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the Scribes.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Mark, arranging the sayings of the Gospel as they were in his own mind, not in themselves, quits the order of the history, and follows the order of the mysteries. Wherefore he relates the first miracle on the sabbath day, saying, And they go into Capernaum.

THEOPHYLACT. Quitting Nazareth. Now on the sabbath day, when the Scribes were gathered together, he entered into a synagogue, and taught. Wherefore there follows, And straightway on the sabbath day, having entered into the synagogue, he taught them. For for this end the Law commanded them to give themselves up to rest on the sabbath day, that they might meet together to attend to sacred reading. Again, Christ taught them by rebuke, not by flattery as did the Pharisees; wherefore it says, And they were astonished at his doctrine; for he taught them as one having power, and not as the Scribes. He taught them also in power, transforming men to good, and He threatened punishment to those who did not believe on Him.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) The Scribes themselves taught the people what was written in Moses and the Prophets: but Jesus as the God and Lord of Moses himself, by the freedom of His own will, either added those things which appeared wanting in the Law, or altered things as He preached to the people; as we read in Matthew, It was said to them of old time, but I say unto you. (Mat. 5:27)

1:23–28

23. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

24. Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

25. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him.

26. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.

27. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.

28. And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 7) Since by the envy of the devil death first entered into the world, it was right that the medicine of healing should first work against the author of death; and therefore it is said, And there was in their synagogue a man, &c.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) The word Spirit is applied to an Angel, the air, the soul, and even the Holy Ghost. Lest therefore by the sameness of the name we should fall into error, he adds, unclean. And he is called unclean on account of his impiousness and far removal from God, and because he employs himself in all unclean and wicked works.

AUGUSTINE. (de Civ. Dei, ix. 21) Moreover, how great is the power which the lowliness of God, appearing in the form of a servant, has over the pride of devils, the devils themselves know so well, that they express it to the same Lord clothed in the weakness of flesh. For there follows, And he cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth, &c. For it is evident in these words that there was in them knowledge, but there was not charity; and the reason was, that they feared their punishment from Him, and loved not the righteousness in Him.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) For the devils, seeing the Lord on the earth, thought that they were immediately to be judged.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Or else the devil so speaks, as if he said, β€˜by taking away uncleanness, and giving to the souls of men divine knowledge, Thou allowest us no place in men.’

THEOPHYLACT. For to come out of man the devil considers as his own perdition; for devils are ruthless, thinking that they suffer some evil, so long as they are not troubling men. There follows, I know that thou art the Holy One of God.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) As if he said, Methinks that Thou art come; for he had not a firm and certain knowledge of the coming of God. But he calls Him holy not as one of many, for every prophet was also holy, but he proclaims that He was the One holy; by the article in Greek he shews Him to be the One, but by his fear he shews Him to be Lord of all.

AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) For He was known to them in that degree in which He wished to be known; and He wished as much as was fitting. He was not known to them as to the holy Angels, who enjoy Him by partaking of His eternity according as He is the Word of God; but as He was to be made known in terror, to those beings from whose tyrannical power He was about to free the predestinate. He was known therefore to the devils, not in that He is eternal Life, but by some temporal effects of His Power, which might be more clear to the angelic senses of even bad spirits than to the weakness of men.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Further, the Truth did not wish to have the witness of unclean spirits; wherefore there follows, And Jesus threatened him, saying, &c. Whence a healthful precept is given to us; let us not believe devils, howsoever they may proclaim the truth. It goes on, And the unclean spirit tearing him, &c. For, because the man spoke as one in his senses and uttered his words with discretion, lest it should be thought that he put together his words not from the devil but out of his own heart, He permitted the man to be torn by the devil, that He might shew that it was the devil who spoke.

THEOPHYLACT. That they might know, when they saw it, from how great an evil the man was freed, and on account of the miracle might believe.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) But it may appear to be a discrepancy, that he should have gone out of him, tearing him, or, as some copies have it, vexing him, when, according to Luke, he did not hurt him. But Luke himself says, When he had, cast him into the midst, he came out from him, without hurting him. (Luke 4:35) Wherefore it is inferred that Mark meant by vexing or tearing him, what Luke expresses, in the words, When he had cast him into the midst; so that what he goes on to say, And did not hurt him, may be understood to mean, that the tossing of his limbs and vexing, did not weaken him, as devils are wont to come out even with the cutting off and tearing away of limbs. But seeing the power of the miracle, they wonder at the newness of our Lord’s doctrine, and are roused to search into what they had heard by what they had seen. Wherefore there follows, And they all wondered &c. For miracles were done that they might more firmly believe the Gospel of the kingdom of God, which was being preached, since those who were promising heavenly joys to men on earth, were shewing forth heavenly things and divine works even on earth. For before (as the Evangelist says) He was teaching them as one who had power, and now, as the crowd witnesses, with power He commands the evil spirits, and they obey Him. (1 John 5:20. John 17:3) It goes on, And immediately His fame spread abroad, &c.

GLOSS. (non occ.) For those things which men wonder at they soon divulge, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. (Mat. 12:24)

PSEUDO-JEROME. Moreover, Capernaum is mystically interpreted the town of consolation, and the sabbath as rest. The man with an evil spirit is healed by rest and consolation, that the place and time may agree with his healing. This man with an unclean spirit is the human race, in which uncleanness reigned from Adam to Moses; for they sinned without law, and perished without law. (v. Rom. 5:14. 2:12) And he, knowing the Holy One of God, is ordered to hold his peace, for they knowing God did not glorify him as God, but rather served the creature than the Creator. (1:21.25) The spirit tearing the man came out of him. When salvation is near, temptation is at hand also. Pharaoh, when about to leti Israel go, pursues Israel; the devil, when despised, rises up to create scandals.

1:29–31

29. And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

30. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.

31. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 7) First, it was right that the serpent’s tongue should be shut up, that it might not spread any more venom; then that the woman, who was first seduced, should be healed from the fever of carnal concupiscence. Wherefore it is said, And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, &c.

THEOPHYLACT. He retired then as the custom was on the sabbath-day about evening to eat in His disciples’ house. But she who ought to have ministered was prevented by a fever. Wherefore it goes on, But Simon’s wife’s mother was lying sick of a fever.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (v. Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc. c. 1:32) But the disciples, knowing that they were to receive a benefit by that means, without waiting for the evening prayed that Peter’s mother should be healed. Wherefore there follows, who immediately tell him of her.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) But in the Gospel of Luke it is written, that they besought him for her. (Luke 4:38.) For the Saviour sometimes after being asked, sometimes of His own accord, heals the sick, shewing that He always assents to the prayers of the faithful, when they pray also against bad passions, and some times gives them to understand things which they do not understand at all, or else, when they pray unto Him dutifully, forgives their want of understanding; as the Psalmist begs of God, Cleanse me, O Lord, from my secret faults. (Ps. 19:12) Wherefore He heals her at their request; for there follows, And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up.

THEOPHYLACT. By this it is signified, that God will heal a sick man, if he ministers to the Saints, through love to Christ.

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 6, 8) But in that He gives most profusely His gifts of healing and doctrine on the sabbath day, He teaches, that He is not under the Law, but above the Law, and does not choose the Jewish sabbath, but the true sabbath, and our rest is pleasing to the Lord, if, in order to attend to the health of our souls, we abstain from slavish work, that is, from all unlawful things. It goes on, and immediately the fever left her, &c. The health which is conferred at the command of the Lord, returns at once entire, accompanied with such strength, that she is able to minister to those, of whose help she had before stood in need. Again, if we suppose that the man delivered from the devil means, in the moral way of interpretation, the soul purged from unclean thoughts, fitly does the woman cured of a fever by the command of God mean the flesh, restrained from the heat of its concupiscence by the precepts of continence.

PSEUDO-JEROME. For the fever means intemperance, from which, we the sons of the synagoguek, by the hand of discipline, and by the lifting up of our desires, are healed, and minister to the will of Him who heals us.

THEOPHYLACT. But he has a fever who is angry, and in the unruliness of his anger stretches forth his hands to do hurt; but if reason restrains his hands, he will arise, and so serve reason.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000Commentary in public domain.
Introductory video to this Sunday by Larry Broding at Word-Sunday.com.
Directions: On this page you will find questions on the Sunday Readings that can be used in RCIA or Faith Sharing groups. Clicking on the PDF icons at bottom right will give participants additional commentary and resources.

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Word Sunday

by Larry Broding

Turn back to God: Believe the Good News

FIRST READING

The announcement of a great prophet

Do you seek prophetic voices, messages from God to guide your life? Where do you find such voices? What is the cost of following a prophetic voice?

PSALM

Praise with a catch

Have you ever been in prayer, only to be upset when you were disturbed? Why were you so upset?

The next time you are in prayer, take a moment to realize that even the closest times to God are times temptation can rear its ugly head. Resist the temptation to ignore or correct others in the name of “quality time” with the Lord.

SECOND READING

Single vs. married life?

How does your life status help you to focus on the Lord? How does it hinder you? How can you use this hindrance as a means to holiness?

GOSPEL

The Holy One of God

When was the last time you heard a powerful speech? Or saw an amazing feat? How did these events impress you?

When was the last time you had a moment of grace: a time of divine insight and healing? Was that time a signpost in your life? Are you still affected by that graced moment? Explain.

What word would you like to hear God speak? How would you like to be healed? Take a few moments this week to listen to God and prepare yourself for his loving touch.

Β©1999-2021 Larry Broding. Material may be copied for personal use or for use in any non-profit ministry. Materials may not be sold or used for personal financial gain.

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Small Group Questions

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

1. Share with the group or person next to you what spoke to you most in the Gospel. With this first question try to refrain from commenting on what others said. Just share what spoke to you and then move on to the next person.

2. Who β€˜speaks with authority’ in your life? Whose witness to the Gospel inspires you?

3. Who or what are some inner demons or voices that can inhabit our lives? What helps you to deal with them?

4. Have you experienced Jesus’ healing, love and mercy in your life? If so, in what ways?

5. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.

RESPONDING TO GOD’S WORD: Share with the person next to you one way you can act on this week’s readings. Suggestion: Seek to be aware of evil forces that may seek to distract you from being focused on following the ways of Jesusl.

Β©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Discussion Questions

by Fr. Clement Thibodeau

1. What authority does the word of God have in your parish?

  • Does it have first priority, second priority, or none at all?
  • What could give the word of God more authority?
  • What can you and your family (or group) do to grant more authority to the word of God?How can you enhance the word of the Gospel so that people will recognize it as the word of Christ who speaks through the Church?

2. What authority do the teachings of the Church (or doctrine) have in your life?

  • Do you recognize the infallible teachings of the Church as coming from Christ himself?
  • Do you recognize the teachings of the catechism as the official teachings of the Church?
  • How do you distinguish between infallible teachings and everything else in the catechism? (If you don’t know the answer,ask the parish priest or the catechetical leader in your parish.)

3. Have you prayed over the word of God and over Church teachings, asking God to grant you discernment and understanding?

  • Has prayer ever helped you to know what God wants from you?
  • Do you think that God will leave you in the dark as to what his will is for you?
Β© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Bible Study Questions

by Vince Contreras

1. In the 1st Reading, Moses predicts to the Israelites about to enter the Promised Land that there will someday arise after him a prophet like himself. What are the characteristics of this prophet, and how do they find their fulfillment in Jesus?

2. Where did Jesus begin his public ministry? What two things about Jesus amazed the people?

3. How do imagine this scene unfolded? Was the demoniac part of the congregation, or did he burst in from the outside? What do you think was the reaction of the rest of the congregation: Compassion? Embarrassment? Anger? What would your reaction be?

4. What does it mean to teach β€œas one having authority” (verse 22)? What was the source of Jesus’ authority (see John 5:19-24)?

5. Did Jesus heal every person in Israel at that time, or even in every city he visited during his earthly ministry? Why do you think that Jesus healed the people that he did?

6. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much authority does Jesus have over your life?

Β© 2014 Sunday Scripture Study for Catholics by Vince Contreras. Used with permission.
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