Homily for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: ARE YOU POSSESSED BY ANY DEMON …?
By: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
Homily for Sunday January 31 2021
(DT. 18:15-20, 1COR. 7:32-35, MARK 1:21-28)
Today’s Gospel continues our reading from Mark and describes what some believe was likely to have been a typical day in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus and the disciples that followed him arrive at Capernaum, a small village on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus teaches in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. Mark reports that the people respond to Jesus’ teaching with astonishment, noting Jesus’ authority and contrasting it with the Scribes’. Early in Mark’s Gospel we already find evidence of the tension that will manifest itself fully in Jerusalem.
God’s authority in our daily lives is important. Do we pray(call) to God? Do we listen to God? Are we interested at all in finding the meaning of life outside of ourselves? The challenges of the readings today keep pointing us outside of ourselves and toward a divine authority who wants to communicate with us but who will never force Himself upon us.
Our first reading from Deuteronomy is one of those passages in the bible referred to as the Messianic prophesies. Through this prophecy from Moses, God promised us the messiah. This promise was fulfilled in Christ. His first miracle was in conquering the power of evil, curing a poor man who was possessed by devils. It was an awesome event, moving the crowds to a mixture of wonder and fear. It showed them that Jesus was much more than an ordinary good human being. Jesus fought with the powers of evil as a superior. When he spoke, the devils obeyed. He proved that no human can be possessed by foreign evil powers if they are “owned” by God.
One important thing that you must remember is that the Kingdom of God is not a place. The Kingdom of God is where God reigns. And where God reigns is where the Kingdom of God is. So, the first place you look, of course, is in your own heart. The kingdom of God is the presence of Jesus among us, the presence of the Christos, the Holy One of God, who walks with us as surely now as he did all those hundreds of years ago. As the bible said there is no other name upon which we shall be saved except the name of Christ. (Acts 4:12).
Mark wants us to think that this man cured by Christ today is us, because there are other unclean spirits hovering and controlling us. Pride is an unclean spirit, so also is envy, lust and greed. Some are possessed by hatred, which makes them feel miserable all the time. Others are enslaved to compulsions, pornography and habits of sin that have taken possession of them almost as if they were possessed by a demon. Jesus can free us from all these unclean spirits as well — but only insofar as we commit ourselves to doing whatever is necessary to stay free once Jesus has done his part. And that is living the good news of Christ.
Unfortunately, lots of people are lost nowadays. They are like the evil spirit in the Gospel. They profess knowing Jesus, for they claim to be Christians. Yet they continue to openly reject his teachings and disobey his commands. This is what Pope Benedict XVI noted: a growing “phenomenon” of people in modern society “who wish to belong to the Church but who are strongly determined by a vision of life that is opposed to the faith.” …being a Christian is not a type of outfit that one wears in private or on special occasions, but something living and totalizing….”
My brothers and sisters, the paradox is that the one devil that Jesus cannot control is the devil we sometimes make of ourselves. The one evil that he cannot exorcize is the devilishness deep inside us which causes our sin and we have refused to present him with it. Are you possessed by any demon remember the possessed man was in the Church?
God bless you
By Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara