Sunday, February 1, 2015

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Jesus IS Lord

Today's readings remind us of who Christ is and His mission.  Christ is the Messiah or Chosen one. He has dominion over all including Satan and his demons (Hebrews 2:8, 1 Corinthians 15:27).

In the first reading, Moses tells the people that God will raise up a leader from among them.  This leader will speak for God and remind them of what God commands.  No longer will the people of God need pillars of fire and all the displays that they have witnessed in the Exodus.  This reading reminds us that Christ has been expected for a long time (Isaiah 11:1-9, Jeremiah 23:5-6). He is the One, the Anointed One who will restore creation.

The responsorial Psalm responds with "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts." This is a reminder of last week's Gospel where Christ began calling his disciples. We read from Psalm 95 which is also used in lauds or morning prayer before the intercessions in the Liturgy of the Hours.  In this Psalm, we are reminded to remember God and not harden our hearts. We must listen to his voice and not test him even after we have seen how he has worked in our lives (Deuteronomy 6:16, Luke 4:12).

In the second reading, Paul reminds us to be free of anxieties. He tells us of the benefits of being celibate. Many today attack the Catholic Church for her discipline requiring priests to be celibate.  Some of our Protestant friends even say it is not biblical and against God's command to find a mate and be "fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28).  However, today's second reading clearly states that those who are unmarried are more concerned about the things of God.  This is not to say that married people are not.  The point Paul is making is that an unmarried person has more time to dedicate to God and to do God's work. They dedicate more to the things of heaven and much be open to be celibate (Matthew 19:10-12).  Whereas, married people have to care for one another and their children most of the time.  

Lastly in the Gospel, we begin to see Jesus at work. Jesus began teaching the people with authority.  His words made sense and were in agreement with the Hebrew Scriptures. This is connected to the first reading which says, "[I]... will put my words into his mouth."  Not only does God teach with authority, but he also shows demons who is boss.  A man with an unclean spirit or a demon cries out to Jesus in fear, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are-the Holy One of God!"  These are powerful words said by, ironically a demon.  Even the demons of hell, the fallen angels acknowledge Jesus. We see the demon's phrase in the Old Testament (Judges 11:12; 1 Kings 17:18). It shows a combatant event.  Jesus tells the demon to be quiet or shut up bringing to mind Zechariah 3:2. God is more powerful than any demon. Today we live in a world where the Occult is starting to come back in the public square. Some people believe Satan is a "counter-god" to the God of heaven.  This is not true. Satan is simply a creature and is not equal to God.  God always has the final say. Jesus is the one who has dominion of this world despite Satan thinking that he does (John 12:31).  Notice that Jesus does this on the Sabbath or the day of rest. This is showing us that Christ is restoring creation with the new creation. Creation would not end with the fall of Adam and Eve.  Satan did not win at the Garden of Eden. Jesus has the final say and casts the demon out on the Sabbath.  The serpent is kicked out as Christ begins to replant Eden.


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