January 31, 2021: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel Mk 1:21-28
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “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!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Right after last Sunday’s reading where Jesus calls some of his first disciples, Jesus enters the synagogue and begins teaching. The people listen and are astonished. The people seem to recognize the truth and the integrity of his teaching. Then they see the power of the Spirit within him as he rebukes the unclean spirit and orders it to leave the afflicted man. As we listen to this Gospel we can be filled with excitement and hope. The people listening are wondering if their hopes for a Messiah were being fulfilled. We shall see in the weeks ahead that Jesus has more to teach them and it will challenge them. Can they accept the full message that Jesus wants them to understand about what following him entails? Can we?
As we listen to Jesus at this time in our lives, help us to recognize what Jesus is asking of us. During these pandemic times, we are meeting many challenges. Help us to continue to be astonished at the ways that Jesus teaches us through these difficulties and how he remains beside us, reminding us of God’s continual care and presence. May we also recognize how we can be a caring presence for those in need whom we encounter in our lives?