4TH SUNDAY HOMILY IN ORDINARY TIME, YR B
BY: Fr. Jude Nnadi
Deuteronomy 18 : 15 – 20 ; 1 Corinthians 7 : 32 – 35 ; Mark 1 : 21 – 28
“For he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” (Mk 1)
Sisters and brothers, these words reveal the person of Jesus. He taught them from the depths of his being, from his person as the Word of God, from his authority as Love, who is God. His word is prophetic, it touches the innermost part of the soul, word different from all others, because it comes from God.
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Jesus taught not only by words but also through authoritative gestures. For this reason, the evangelist recounts the liberation of a person from the devil. In the gospel, the devil is not a symbol, but a person freely oriented against God. In our world today the existence of the devil can be perceived from many clues. Not only from diabolical possession, but from many absurd forms of slavery, into which man falls, destroying his own dignity. Let’s think about the ego, money, power, success: some are willing to hit everything and everyone to achieve a goal! Unfortunately, many say that the devil does not exist; and in some respects, it is convenient to think that it does not exist. Pope Saint Paul VI said: “those who do not believe in the existence of the devil should know that even those who do not believe in illness get sick!”
The story narrated by Mark today points out that the man possessed by the devil frequented the synagogue, he frequented an official place of prayer. This reminds us that there is no place that can automatically make a person good or bad: goodness or evil depends on the heart, on the conscience, on the works. It is not acquired by breathing the air of the church, but by living the truth of the gospel we hear.
With his word alone, Jesus takes away Satan’s indisputable power over man. The coming of Christ, especially his death and resurrection, broke Satan’s lordship over the world: “now the prince of this world is thrown out” (cf. Jn 12:31). One last point: the devil, in our gospel story, makes a strange act of faith in Christ. He tells him: “I know who you are- the Holy one of God!”. But Jesus: “rebuked him and said, quiet!”. Why did Jesus give this order? Because the Truth, when it is proclaimed without love, cannot be lived, and we know that the devil, a creature who has freely closed himself in pride and rebellion, can no longer love because he is without charity. The Truth is therefore not honored by affirming it, but by living it.
In the Our Father we say: “do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil”. Evil is the devil, and we can be freed from his slavery only if we have strong faith in Christ Jesus; only if we listen and put his words into practice; only if we nourish ourselves with his Most Holy Body and Blood. Saint John Chrysostom once said: “The one who returns from the Eucharistic table resembles a lion who emits flames of fire from his mouth; the sight of him is unbearable to the devil” who, as we read in the first letter of Peter: “goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”, but admonishes us to “stand up to him strong in faith” (cf. 1Pt 5, 8-9)
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