FR. TONY'S JOKES OF THE WEEK

1) Authority to forgive sins: A dirty, drunken wino who was passing a Catholic Church one day, noticed a sign on the door that said: “Confessions Being Heard.” Since he had not been to confession for a long time, he staggered into the church, knelt down in the confessional and began to confess his sins. Unfortunately, his breath was so foul that the priest who was hearing confessions couldn’t stand it and decided to cut things short. “Look,” he said to the wino. “Have you murdered anybody lately?” “Nope,” the wino replied. “O.K. then,” the priest told him. “I am going to say the prayer of absolution.” Slightly puzzled, the wino staggered out of the confessional and as he was walking down the steps of the church steps, saw a fellow wino who was going into the Church. “You going to confession?” The first wino asked. “Yep,” said the second wino. “Don’t waste your time,” the first wino said. “He ain’t hearing nothing today except murder cases.”

2) Whose authority? Jesus’ or your denomination’s? I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, “Stop! Don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. “Well, there’s so much to live for.” “Like what?” “Well, are you religious?” “Yes.” “Me too! Are you Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist?” “Christian.” “Me, too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?” “Protestant.” “Me, too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist? ”Baptist.” “Wow, me, too! Are you Church of God or Church of the Christ?” “Church of God!” “Me, too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?” “Reformed Baptist Church of God!”
“Me, too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic,” and pushed him off.

3) You may have heard about the preacher who asked one elderly lady how it was with her soul. “Oh,” she replied, “the old devil has been giving me a rough time.” Immediately her husband protested. “Now hold on,” he said, “she’s not too easy to live with herself.”

4) The new nurse asked the psychiatric doctor, “Is that man really sick?” “He surely is,” answered the doctor gravely. “I don’t know of a more serious set of complications. For forty years he has suffered agonies from imaginitis, scarecoma, apprehendicitis, and general fearosis of living!”

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Fr. Tony’s 8-Minute Homily

4B Ordinary Time

Fr. Tony’s Homily (everything on one page)

Introduction

The common theme of today’s readings is Divine authority, as exercised in this world by the prophets of the Old Testament in their messages, by the apostles (including St. Paul), in their writings and teaching in the New Testament, and by Jesus in his teaching and healing ministry.

Starter Anecdote(s)

Select one or two of the following illustrations to insert here. View more by clicking on the “ILLUSTRATIONS” tab above. Feel free to insert more throughout the homily if so desired (but this should not be overdone).
Illustration A — Who would examine me?

Who would examine me?

Who would examine me? One scholar who was a real authority in his subject was the famous George Lyman Kittredge, for years a professor of English literature at Harvard University. Having received his bachelor’s degree at Harvard, he showed such talent that the University engaged him as a teacher. This was long before the degree of Doctor of Philosophy was demanded of university faculty members or, indeed, was even a popular degree in America. Professor Kittredge, A.B. soon became one of the world’s most learned men in English literature. For decades, his courses on Shakespeare were the most popular courses taught at Harvard. Every now and then, in his later years, some of his students would ask him, “Why don’t you study for a doctorate of philosophy? The brusque bearded old scholar always had the same answer, “Who would examine me?” Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus had a completely new teaching in a spirit of authority! (Mark, 1-27. Today’s Gospel). (-Father Robert F. McNamara).

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
Illustration B — God sends His prophets all the time

God sends His prophets all the time

God sends His prophets all the time: When Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed the freedom of all the slaves in the United States on January 1, 1863, his was that of a prophet. When Lincoln’s contemporary, Susan B. Anthony pioneered the suffrage movement that eventually led to the passage of the 19th Amendment (1920) and gave women the right to vote, hers was the voice of a prophet. When Pope Leo XIII delivered his encyclical entitled On the Condition of the Working Man and called upon Christians to attend to unjust labor laws and practices, his was the voice of a prophet. Similarly, when Cardinal Leo-Josef Suenens of Belgium stood up at the end of the first session of Vatican II and urged the Council to examine not only the mystery of the Church in itself but also the Church’s relationship to and responsibility for the world at large, his was the voice of a prophet. Rachel Carson’s book entitled Silent Spring (1962) was prophetic in that it summoned the world to an awareness of the dangers of environmental pollution. When Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu drew the world’s attention to the dangers and injustices of apartheid, his was the voice of a prophet as were so many others in this century alone, e.g., Dorothy Day, St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Teilhard de Chardin, Leonardo Boff, Jon Sobrino and the Latin American Bishops who raised their voices first at Medellin, Colombia (1968) and then at Puebla, Mexico (1979) to affirm the Church as “an instrument of liberation, an agent of social justice and a defender of the poor and the oppressed.” These prophets tried to bring the reality of the sacred into every sphere of the human experience. In today’s liturgical readings, we are called upon to allow the prophetic messages of Moses, Paul, and Jesus to penetrate our consciences and claim them for God. Moreover, we are challenged to continue to listen to the prophets among us, and to exercise the ministry of prophecy for our contemporaries in our words, works and manner of living. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez).

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Illustration C — Jesus, the exorcist with authority

Jesus, the exorcist with authority

Jesus, the exorcist with authority: In the 1970 the movie The Exorcist was breaking box office records. It concerned a young person who was possessed by an evil spirit, not unlike the one in today’s Gospel. The movie was based on an actual case of a 14-year-old boy who lived in Mt. Rainier, Maryland, in 1949. Newsweek described the case this way. “Pictures, chairs and the boy’s bed would suddenly move about. At night, the boy could rarely sleep. After he was admitted to Georgetown University Hospital…the boy began to mouth fierce curses in ancient languages and at one point, while strapped helplessly in his bed, long red scathes appeared on his body.” The boy eventually survived an exorcism and started living in the Washington, DC area. An old priest involved in the boy’s exorcism has taken a vow not to discuss it. He does say, however, that the experience dramatically changed his life for the better. The deeper meaning behind Jesus’ exorcisms is that the kingdom of Satan which had enslaved people since Adam’s sin, was now giving way to the kingdom of God. ( Fr. Mark Link S. J.)

(Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/

Scripture Lessons Summarized

Fr. Tony’s unabridged edition for this section can be found by clicking on the “COMMENTARY” tab above. Feel free to include more detail if so desired.

Today’s first reading tells us that a true prophet like Moses speaks with authority because it is God Who speaks through him. After the Babylonian exile, the Jewish priests began to interpret the words of Moses given in the first reading, namely, “a prophet like me,” as referring to one individual, the expected Messiah. This passage is chosen for today’s first reading because it refers to Jesus, the “preacher with authority,” mentioned in today’s Gospel.

The response for today’s Responsorial Psalm, (Ps 95), speaks of not hardening our hearts when we hear God’s authoritative voice through the Scripture and the Church’s teaching authority.

In the second reading, St. Paul exercises his God-given authority as the Apostle to the Gentiles to teach people in Corinth that marriage is a holy state ordained by God and that it is a life-long partnership according to the teaching of the Lord. But he opts for, and recommends, celibacy, so that one may serve the Lord without the distractions of married life.

In today’s Gospel, Mark describes one sample Sabbath day of Jesus’ public life. Jesus joins in public worship in the synagogue as a practicing Jew, heals the sick, drives out evil spirits and prays privately. People immediately noticed that Jesus teaches with authority and heals with Divine power. Jesus explains the Scriptures with complete confidence, and when questioned by people, he answered with authority. Jesus in using his real (authentic) Divine authority to teach, empower, liberate, and heal others. In today’s Gospel, the evil spirit recognized and loudly declared Jesus as the Messiah.  Jesus harsh, command, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” exorcises the demon who departs, obedient to His Divine authority.

Life Message

Fr. Tony’s unabridged versions can be found by clicking on the “LIFE MESSAGES” tab above. Feel free to include more detail if so desired.

1) We need to approach Jesus for liberation: Jesus did not use his authority and Divine power to rule and control people, but to set them free. Hence, let us approach Jesus with trusting Faith so that he may free us from the evil spirits that keep us from praying and that prevent us from loving others and sharing our blessings with them. Jesus also frees us from all the “evil spirits” of fear, jealousy, anger, envy, addictions, compulsions, selfishness, resentment, and hostility. May God free us from all those spirits which make us deaf, dumb, blind, lame, and paralyzed, physically and spiritually.

2) We need to use our God-given authority to build up lives.  So many people with authority have made a lasting impression on our lives either for good or ill. Perhaps it was a grandparent, an uncle, or a parent, who loved us and cared for us.  Perhaps it was a Sunday school teacher who encouraged us in our Faith and exerted a positive impact on our lives. Perhaps we remember the kindness as well as the firm discipline that a schoolteacher gave us. Teachers are powerful because they change and mold lives. Hence, let us all become good teachers like Jesus and use our authority to mold young lives in the right way.

Fr. Tony’s Illustrations

4B Ordinary Time

More of Fr. Tony’s illustrations

Who would deny that our century is possessed of an evil spirit?

Jesus’ world was a demon-haunted world. Men and women in the ancient world believed in demons. Demons for them were intensely real. The first century world was one of pain and suffering. There was no relief from pain. It was a world of natural disasters that took a heavy toll on life. Disease, even the slightest illness, could be fatal. There was a high rate of infant mortality. Life expectancy was in the middle forties. Because they had no idea of the causes of natural disaster, calamity, or disease, the people associated them with demons. It is difficult for our modern world to realize the power and influence that demons had upon first century human life. But when it comes to evil and demons, is there that much difference between the first and twenty-first centuries? We cannot dismiss evil as a first century phenomenon. It operates as an active force in our world as well as in our souls. In one lifetime we have witnessed the Holocaust of World War II, the Jewish holocaust, genocide in Cambodia and in Jonestown, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, child abuse in America, Branch Davidians, the bombings at New York’s Twin Towers and Oklahoma City. Boko Haram and ISIS atrocities. Who would deny that our century is possessed of an evil spirit?

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

The en vogue theory

During a discussion of William Shakespeare, a student asked the old professor about the en vogue theory that Shakespeare did not write the plays ascribed to him. The professor growled, “Young man, if Shakespeare did not write those plays, then they were written by someone who lived at the same time and had the same name!” It is a sure sign of desperation in the atheistic circles to speak of Jesus as a myth or a “tall-tale” like Paul Bunyan or Robin Hood – to sayJohn We that Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man did not even exist, much less conduct a ministry with Divine power and Divine authority as described in today’s Gospel.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Athletes proclaiming the authority of God

Athletes with religious convictions are nothing new. In 1954, the Fellowship for Christian Athletes (FCA) was founded “to present to athletes and coaches, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the Church.” In a visit to the FCA’s extensive Web Site, we find many familiar names popping up: Minnesota Vikings’ wide receiver Cris Carter, Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne, University of Washington quarterback Brock Huard and Heisman-trophy-winner Charlie Ward. New Orleans Saints quarterback Danny Wuerffel is an active member of the FCA and a contributing writer to the FCA’s monthly publication, Sharing the Victory. Wuerffel has said: “I am a Christian who happens to be an athlete, and not vice-versa.” Courtney Chase declares, “For Christian athletes, religion is part of the game.” “Muscular Christianity” has been around since baseball-player-turned-evangelist Billy Sunday loudly refuted the idea that Jesus was a weakling, a man of sorrows, a loser.  The football stadium at Notre Dame is situated next to a huge library mural known as “Touchdown Jesus.”  It was big national news when Dallas Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders gave God all glory for the victories of his after the Cowboys’ 37-7 rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Professional athletes are getting saved, and sports writers are getting annoyed! There can be no doubt that the number of athletes publicly testifying to their Faith has drastically increased in the last few years. The New York Times Sports writer Jack Curry, in an April 16, 1995 interview, quotes New York Yankees Closer, John Wetteland (pitcher who would go on to close out the Atlanta Braves in the Sixth Game winning the 1996 World Series) as declaring, “I honestly try and walk with Jesus Christs every day… My relationship with Jesus Christ … is of the utmost importance to me… even more important than my relationship with my wife; I know that my wife considers her relationship with Him more important than her relationship with me. Ultimately, that’s Who I’m going to have to face Increasingly, the athletes are attributing their victories to God. Such testimonies — along with the Bible study sessions, Chapel services pre-game and post-game group prayer — have become an accepted part of the game today, bearing testimony to the authority of God in all spheres of human activities.  Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus demonstrates this Divine power and authority in his teaching and healing ministry.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Demon of multiple suicides

In 1983 the city of Plano, Texas, experienced the kind of tragedy this demon can cause to happen. Plano lived through the nightmare of multiple suicides. Six young people, aged 14 to 18, took their lives, leaving that community wondering what in the world was going on. A boy and a girl, both 17, killed themselves because their parents said they couldn’t see each other so often. One boy was killed in a car race; his friend, who had started the car race, committed suicide out of grief and guilt. Another boy killed himself out of grief over the suicide of his friend. How could it happen, in a place that has everything, where the average home costs $180,000, and where the high school football team always wins? Some of the people living there believe they know what the problem is. They explained that the only thing that counts in their community is being the best: the best at tennis, at bridge, at making money, in school. You have to have the fastest car, the biggest house, all that kind of thing. If you are not the best, you just don’t count. And if you don’t count, perhaps you commit suicide. Pride and envy, the demon of greatness, has ruined many lives.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Demons are here and alive and active

Money Magazine has selected its top “Sin Stocks.” If you’re going to invest in companies that make money out of our propensity to sin, here are the top Seven Deadly Sin Stocks, the stocks that will give you the greatest return on your investment [Money Magazine (November 2002).]

  1. Lust: Playboy Enterprises
  2. Anger: World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
  3. Avarice: Trump Hotels & Casinos
  4. Sloth: La-Z-Boy
  5. Envy: Allergan (AGN) Botox injections
  6. Gluttony: Krispy Kreme (KKD)
  7. Pride: Fair Isaac FIC) (credit rating company)

All we have to do is open a Wall Street Journal, read a tabloid headline at the check-out counter, or hear five minutes of Tom Brokaw or Bill O’Reilly to know that unclean spirits still stalk the Earth. After a half-century of world-wars, cold-wars, nuclear-wars, guerilla-wars, genocidal-wars, terrorist-wars, and now WMD-wars (WMD=”Weapons of Mass Destruction”), who among us has any reason to doubt the straightforward Biblical perceptions that unclean spirits and demonic powers roam in our midst? Some of you may remember Mercury Morris, a great running back for the Miami Dolphins back in their glory days when they were winning the Super Bowls. Mercury was one of the first professional athletes be caught involved in drugs. He was arrested, tried and sent to jail. Why should such a successful athlete do such a dumb thing? Why should he throw his life away? At his trial he said, “I wanted to get away from it, but the demons wouldn’t let me.”

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Tonya Harding and the demons

Look how powerfully destructive an evil spirit like greed can be when it is let loose in human life. Our environment is suffering from economic exploitation resulting from greed. A passion for wealth has produced a disregard for the world of nature and human survival. Greed can be very destructive to human life. Tonya Harding (born November 12, 1970) was an American figure skating champion. In 1991 she won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and placed second in the World Championships. She was the second woman, and the first American woman, to complete a triple axel jump in competition. She was surrounded by vultures who wanted a share in the pot of gold that she might win at Lillehammer. Her mother, who had been married seven times, stood at rink-side with a hair brush to beat her daughter if her performance fell short of her expectations. Tonya became notorious after her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, conspired with Shawn Eckhardt and Shane Stant to attack her skating competitor Nancy Kerrigan at a practice session during the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The story, which captured national attention for weeks, ended like most stories of greed. The characters self-destructed, and the pot of gold vanished. Joseph Conrad suggests to us that “the belief in the supernatural source of evil is not necessary. Men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.” Jesus confronts an Evil Spirit in today’s Gospel.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Fr. Tony’s Life Messages

4B Ordinary Time

Let us approach Jesus for liberation

Jesus did not use his authority and Divine power to rule and control people. He came to set people free. Hence, let us approach Jesus with trusting Faith so that he may free us from the evil spirits that keep us from praying and prevent us from loving and sharing our blessings with others, as well as from all the “evil spirits” of fear, compulsions, selfishness, anger, resentment and hostility. “I have come that they may have life, life in abundance” (Jn 10:10). So Jesus should be a source of liberation for us. May Jesus free us from all those spirits which make us deaf, dumb, blind, lame, and paralyzed, physically and spiritually. Through Word and Sacrament, Jesus brings that power to us and says the same words to the demons in our life, “Be gone!” — not just once but as often as we need to hear them, until finally, we are free from these demons entirely. Christ has power over any demon, so whether those demons be addictions, heartaches, secret sins — whatever our chains may be — Christ can set us free and longs to do so.

(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

We need to use our God-given authority to build up lives

No doubt we can think back to people who have made a lasting impression on our lives – either for good or bad. Perhaps it was a grandparent, an uncle, or a parent, who loved us and cared for us. Perhaps it was a Sunday school teacher who encouraged us in our Faith and exerted a positive impact on our lives. Perhaps we remember the kindness as well as the firm discipline that a schoolteacher gave us. On the other hand, there may be people in our past whom we remember with pain and discomfort. Are children learning something from us as parents that will stand them in good stead for the future? We want our children to grow into strong, wise, confident, capable, mature adults. But we want more than that. We want them to grow in their Faith, to accept Jesus as their Lord and personal Savior. We want children to see in us the love of Jesus and how our Christian Faith affects our lives. A good question for parents, teachers and all of us is: “In what way am I helping the children I know grow in wonder at Jesus and his love for them?” When God’s Word and God’s ways are taught and spoken about with authority – with conviction – our children (and others) will see in them, with amazement, God’s love for them in His Son Jesus.

(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

We need teachers who know how to use their authority properly

Teachers are powerful because they change lives. They have within their grasp the power over young lives to hurt them terribly or heal them wonderfully. Most of us are deeply and forever indebted to some caring teacher in our past. Some people never get over the damage done to them by some cruel or uncaring teacher. So today, when we hear that Jesus entered the synagogue at Capernaum and began to teach, we need to take note: Jesus was a teacher. They never called him “Reverend,” or “Father,” or “Priest.” They called him “Rabbi,” which means “teacher.” Let us all become good teachers and use our authority to mould young lives in the right way.

Fr. Tony’s Commentary

4B Ordinary Time

The common theme of today’s readings is Divine authority as exercised by the prophets of the Old Testament in their messages, by the apostles (including St. Paul), in their writings and teaching in the New Testament, and by Jesus in his teaching and healing ministry. Today’s first reading tells us that a true prophet speaks with authority because it is God Who speaks through him. After the Babylonian exile, the Jewish priests began to interpret the words of Moses given in the first reading, namely, “a prophet like me,” as referring to one individual, the expected Messiah. According to Acts 3:22; 7:37 this prophecy is verified in Jesus Christ. This passage is chosen for today’s first reading because it refers to Jesus, the “preacher with authority,” mentioned in today’s Gospel. In the second reading, St. Paul exercises his God-given authority as the Apostle to the Gentiles to teach people that marriage is a holy state ordained by God and that it is a life-long partnership according to the teaching of the Lord. In today’s Gospel, Mark describes one sample Sabbath day of Jesus’ public life. Jesus joins in public worship in the synagogue as a practicing Jew, he heals the sick, he drives out evil spirits — and he prays privately. Since anyone could be invited to explain the Holy Scripture in synagogue worship, Jesus was invited. People immediately noticed that Jesus spoke with authority and healed with Divine power. The Old Testament prophets had taught using God’s delegated authority, and the scribes and Pharisees taught quoting Moses, the prophets, and the great rabbis. But Jesus taught using his own authority and knowledge as God to teach, empower, liberate, and heal others.

First reading: Deuteronomy 18:15-20 explained. Moses was about to die. The Chosen People were terrified because they were about to lose the person who had been successfully leading them through the wilderness toward the Promised Land. They were also going to lose a prophet who had been keeping them informed of Yahweh’s will. When he died, how would they find out what God wanted of them? God answers the question by promising Moses that He will heed the people’s request and “raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and … put My words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.” That Jesus is the prophet foretold by Moses in today’s First Reading is made clear in Acts 3:22; 7:37). Jesus has authority over Heaven and earth (Daniel 7:14, 27; Revelation 12:10). Moses had set up a theocratic society for the Israelites as he had been instructed to do by God.  This society had various officers to regulate the civil and religious life of the people, e.g., judges, kings, priests and prophets. Today’s reading tells us that a true prophet would speak with authority because it would be God Who spoke through him. The text was first seen as promising that there would be a line of prophets to interpret previous revelations by God and to add some new ones for each generation. After the return from the Babylonian exile (c. 538 B. C.), the Jewish priests began to interpret this text of Deuteronomy as referring to one individual, namely the Messiah who was to come. The New Testament followed this interpretation and saw these words of dying Moses, “a prophet like me,” verified in Christ (Acts 3:22; 7:37). These verses therefore, have been chosen for today’s first reading because they refer to Jesus, the “preacher with authority,” mentioned in today’s Gospel.

Second reading: 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 explained.  St. Paul and most of the early Christians believed, or strongly hoped, that the end of this world and the second coming of Christ were imminent.  For this reason, many Christians in Corinth thought they should not enter into marriage, lest marriage should interfere with their whole-hearted service of God in preparation for the second coming of Jesus.  As a good Jew, Paul presumed that a different set of circumstances always demanded a different prophet with a different word. Hence, St. Paul exercised his God-given authority as the Apostle to the Gentiles to teach people that marriage is a holy state ordained by God and that it is a life-long partnership according to the teaching of the Lord (see Mt. 5:32; 19:3-9). Further, Paul recommended the life of celibacy he himself had chosen to the non-married only if they felt they could live such a life. The advantage of celibacy, as Paul explained, was that   celibates would have the freedom to serve God fully with the fewest earthly cares and worries.

Gospel exegesis: Worship and teaching in the synagogues: In Jesus’ time there were synagogues in Palestine in every city and town of any importance, and, outside Palestine, wherever the Jewish community could produce ten adult men for a minyan for offering the prayers. “Synagogues were primarily houses of instruction; the synagogue service was comprised of three elements, prayer, the readings of Scripture and an exposition of it. Administered by the laity, and geared to the day-to-day catechesis of the people, the synagogues of ancient Judah may have been an even more influential factor in Jewish life than the Temple. By Law, wherever there were ten Jewish families, there had to be a synagogue. Neighborhood gathering places, the synagogues were vital to the Faith life of the community. Therefore, if a person had a message to preach, the synagogue was an obvious choice of venue. There, Jesus gained a hearing; following his example, his disciples would do the same after his death and Resurrection.” (Patricia Datchuck Sanchez files). The synagogue consisted mainly of a rectangular room built in such a way that those attending were facing Jerusalem when seated. There was a rostrum or pulpit from which Sacred Scripture was read and explained. It was here that Jesus showed his authority to teach (Navarre Bible Commentary).

The authority of Jesus:  Today’s Gospel passage begins and ends with comments about Jesus’ authority as a teacher (1:21-22 and 1:27-28). He spoke like Moses, telling people directly what God had to say. In between is an exorcism (1:23-26), pointing out a connection between Jesus’ teachings and his supernatural authority. The dramatic healing of the demoniac by an authoritative word is a demonstration of God’s reign and Power in their midst. And the people recognize it as such. Moreover, this is the first miracle in Jesus’ ministry as Mark recounts it. The episode appears immediately following the call of the disciples. Jesus’ authority is also the main theme in the collection of stories (2:1–-3:6), which support the authority of Jesus when he teaches people about God’s compassion in forgiving their sins. In his Gospel, Mark repeatedly returns to the theme that Jesus’ teaching with authority brought followers, and Jesus’ healing with Divine power liberated people from illness and demonic possession. The Catholic and Apostolic Church derives her teaching authority from her founder Jesus, the Christ.

Teaching with authority:  There was a local synagogue in every Jewish settlement of more than ten families.  The synagogue was a place of instruction and Sabbath prayers. The synagogue service consisted of three parts – prayer, the reading of God’s word, and the exposition of it made by anyone who wished to do so. In this chapter Mark tells us that in the local synagogue Jesus taught with authority.  This means that Jesus explained the Scriptures with complete confidence, and when questioned by people he answered with authority.  Jesus spoke relying on no one beyond himself; he cited no supporting human authorities or experts.  Mark also records the impact Jesus had on those who heard him. We are told how amazed people were at the authority with which he preached.  Jesus also showed his power and authority by curing the sick and granting forgiveness to people for their sins.

Exorcising with Divine authority:  In the synagogue, there was a man who was troubled by an unclean spirit. Everyone in the ancient Biblical world feared evil spirits and believed in demonic possession. People believed that demons or “unclean spirits” living inside the people caused leprosy, lameness, paralysis, etc.   Even in the twenty-first century, we still believe in the existence of unclean spirits.  How else can we explain the sudden explosions of anger that occur, the suicidal impulses, the intense jealousies, wild sexual fantasies, or overwhelming feelings of depression? We, as human beings, are keenly aware of these unclean spirits. We often wonder where the “unclean thoughts” come from and why we can’t rid ourselves of them. Victory over the unclean spirit, as the devil is usually described, is a clear sign that God’s salvation has come: by overcoming the Evil One, Jesus shows that He is the Messiah, the Savior, more powerful than the demons. The demoniac cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? “ What does Jesus have to do with these unclean spirits that live in each one of us? The answer we find in the Gospel is equally true today: Jesus came to dispossess the unclean spirits living inside of us and send them away. That is one of the reasons why Jesus came to earth in the first place and one of the reasons why he continues his presence in our lives. Jesus came to drive out those unclean spirits within us, to wash them away, to cleanse our lives of them. Let us put ourselves under his authority and he will liberate us. The evil spirit in today’s Gospel recognized Jesus as the Messiah and acknowledged him as such.  Jesus commanded the evil spirit harshly, using strong words and tones: “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Instantly, the spirit obeyed. This was one of the reasons why Jesus developed a reputation for speaking with authority. Today, we are challenged to believe that Jesus continues to exercise the power to rout evil in all of its ugly disguises and manifestations, viz., in poverty, sickness, greed, hatred, indifference, over-indulgence, etc., using us and our ministry as His instruments.

Permission granted for the use of the materials on this page for education and homiletical purposes at no charge. If used in writing, please make acknowledgment of the author, Fr. Anthony Kadavil.. For more information, contact Fr. Tony by clicking here.
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