January 28, 2024: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Mark 1:21-28
Jesus went into Capernaum, and on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit, and 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.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” The unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, so they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
Jesus’ mission was to bring the good news of God to humanity. That good news included lifting up people who were burdened by many forms of illness. The man in today’s gospel was most likely suffering from a mental or emotional illness.
There was no understanding of such illnesses at that time. Hopefully we have come a long way since then. And so, it was amazing for those who witnessed the response of the unclean spirits to Jesus command!
And yet, today, conflict is causing unbelievable suffering for millions of people in the very territory where Jesus went about healing and renewing hope.
What are we to make of this situation? It certainly is not part of God’s plan, nor is it the “good news” Jesus came to proclaim!
In addition to praying for those suffering in the Middle East (and elsewhere), and for an end to conflicts everywhere, take some time to study the geography of Israel, Gaza, and Palestine, and the history of division in that area of the Middle East.
Hopefully this will provide for informed dialog with others and enable us speak for those in such desperate situations who have little or no voice.