- The Abbey of the Genesee - http://www.geneseeabbey.org -

January 28, 2018

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO [1]

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28

This morning, the author of Deuteronomy told us that God spoke directly to Moses. Because of his openness to the Word, God speak through Moses to the people. In addition to this, God promised to send another prophet like him. At that time, Moses did not know that the promised prophet would be Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind. Through the Word Incarnate, God desired to make Himself known to the world. Not only would God speak to His people, but having taken flesh of the womb of the ever-virgin Mary, He would also walk with them as they made their pilgrim-way into the Kingdom. In Christ, the Beloved Son, all people would experience the love of God made tangible and be reconciled to the Father and to one another.

Jesus Christ is God with a human face. Like Moses, Jesus leads His followers through the wilderness of life to the Promised Land. Whenever Jesus spoke, his words had power to heal, to drive out demons and to reveal God’s presence in the world. In His arms, any who suffered experienced the joys of Love’s embrace. To be a disciple of Christ demands more than the profession of creedal statements. In order to be a disciple of Christ the individual must enter into a personal relationship with the Living Word. Because of our hardness of heart many of us tend to distrust God and to disregard His Word.

If we allow ourselves to be caught up in His outstretched arms, we will come to know the fullness of joy that comes from living in communion with the Persons of the Trinity. In love’s embrace, our hearts of stone are transformed into hearts of flesh again. In Christ we come to learn who we are and what we are living for. Long before we ever heard of Christ, he loved us and had plans for our future happiness. The Beloved Son of God became a man to show us how to be truly human again. He Who created man chose to become a man in order to show human beings how to live in the image and likeness of God. When the Light of the Gospel shines forth, the minds, hearts, and souls of those who receive it come to see Christ who is the true Light of the world.

Lucifer, the Light Bearer, because he refused to submit to and serve the Light of Truth became the Prince of Darkness, losing the purity and holiness of his nature. As the Prince of Darkness, he became committed enemy of all who would choose to follow the Lord of Light. He who had once been named the Bearer of Light had become intent on extinguishing the Light of the World. Because he prefers darkness to light, Lucifer has no desire of being united to the Person of the Light. As much as he despised the Light, he also knew that he was inferior to it and could even be destroyed by it. It is interesting how in today’s gospel that as obstinate and rebellious as he is, the demon must obey the Lord of Light and Life, Who is the Living Word of God.

It might be good to take a few moments to ponder these words taken from the Book of Deuteronomy: “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone” (Deut. 6:4). The only-begotten Son of the Holy One is the Word of the Father and speaks a word of power, a word that even the powers of darkness must obey. The Word-Made-Flesh is the voice of God that even the demons recognize and fear. The Prince of Darkness is no match for the Light of Life and is powerless to resist His word. With one Word, the darkness of Lucifer is overcome. We have only to recall the words of Jesus, recorded in the Gospel of John: “I have come into the world as a light to shine in the darkness, so that no one who believes in me may not remain in darkness” (Jn. 12:46).

Like the people in the synagogue in today’s gospel, we, too are amazed at Jesus’ display of power and authority. Allow me to turn your attention to a few words taken from the Letter to the Hebrews: “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates to the division of soul and spirit, both of joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). The Word of God has power to transform our lives, but we must submit to it. The Light of the Word has the power to deliver us from the kingdom of darkness, but we must be will to conform our lives to it.

Although the people who saw Jesus drive out the demon acknowledged His powerful and effective teaching, they did not follow Him. They did not commitment themselves to His Word. They did not repent of their sins and follow Him. They were curious admirers, but not devoted believers. Sounds a lot like us and many of our contemporaries, doesn’t it? Many of us admire the teachings of Jesus, but we refuse to live by them.

My brothers and sister, God is inviting us to have confidence in the words of His Son, words that can heal and make us whole. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life Who is ever faithful to His promises. Because we have encountered the Lord of Life, let us make known the Lord’s presence in the lives of people we meet. Let us encourage them to open their hearts to the power of the Living Word. Having heard and responded to His call, let us work side by side with the Lord manifesting the Father’s loving-kindness in the world. Having been loved by the Beloved Son, we are called to love as we have been loved and set ourselves to build communion and unity in our broken world.

I will close with words spoken by Pope Benedict XVI the day he inaugurated his Petrine ministry. “And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.”