Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2021

As we begin this Sunday and this week, we do so under heavy snowfall. As I shoveled for an hour this morning before sunrise, I had happy memories of living in Miami Beach. I recall my brother was planning a trip there and asked me for my recommendations of places to visit and places to eat. I enthusiastically sent him a long list of my favorites with directions and the insiders advice. I told him where the locals go.

This is how it is when we live in a place. It becomes a part of us. We know the roads and the restaurants. We know what’s good and what’s bad about the place. Think of where you have lived. Think of your childhood neighborhood. Think of where you spent most of your lived years. I bet you could still give directions without a second thought. I bet you could still recall most of your neighbors’ names.

In today’s Gospel, The crowd listens to Jesus speak. The crowd is amazed at His words. He does not speak as the Pharisees and scribes. Instead, He speaks about God with authority. What does that mean?

The scribes were learned in the ways of the Jewish faith. However, they spoke by quoting those who came before them. The scribe would stand on the theological foundation of some well-known and well respected Scripture scholar who had come before.

Jesus did not do that. Jesus spoke with authority. He spoke knowingly. He spoke knowingly about God. He did not need to quote any Scripture scholar or rabbi or great teacher of the past. Jesus is familiar with the ways of God because He is God. Jesus speaks on His own authority. Jesus taps into His own Divine identity.

When Jesus spoke about the ways of God, He attracted the attention of the crowd. They were amazed because Jesus truly knew what He was talking about. Jesus had first-hand knowledge of God‘s ways.

When Jesus speaks even the evil spirit obeys. The evil spirit proclaims Jesus’s Divine identity and screams, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God!”

Jesus has power over the spiritual world. He has power over this evil spirit because Jesus is God. In this way Mark is proclaiming the identity of Jesus in his Gospel.

Let’s think about what we know. In my opening remarks, I reflected upon the neighborhoods that we know. We are familiar with the place where we lived. How familiar are we with the ways of God? Do we know them? Are they a part of us? The ways and words of God. Think about that.

How do we become familiar with the ways in the words of God? How do they become a part of us?One way is through daily prayer. Another way is through our communal worship. Another way is through our faith that comes from our Church. Another way is the lived example of holy men and women both known to us personally- and those saints from history that provide holy witness.

As I shoveled the snow this morning, it made me realize the effort it takes just to live in the Midwest and to go to work. It made me wonder about what effort we make to know God.

What is your effort? Do you take time every day to become familiar with the word of God? Do you read the Bible every day? Do you pray every day? Do you begin each day determined to live as a follower of Jesus? Do you allow your words and actions to be directed by your Christian identity?

Today we hear a powerful reminder of who Jesus is. He is our Lord and God. As we proclaim and celebrate His identity, let us also recall our own identity. Let us remember who we are called to be. Together with our lives we can proclaim to the world – we are the ones who follow Jesus the Christ. We know Him, We love Him, and we follow His way.

Readings

First Reading
Dt 18:15-20

I will raise up a prophet and I will put my words into his mouth.

A reading from the Book of Deuteronomy

Moses spoke to all the people, saying:
“A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you
   from among your own kin;
   to him you shall listen.
This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb
   on the day of the assembly, when you said,
   ‘Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God,
   nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.’
And the LORD said to me, ‘This was well said.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin,
   and will put my words into his mouth;
   he shall tell them all that I command him.
Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name,
   I myself will make him answer for it.
But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name
   an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak,
   or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.’”


Responsorial Psalm
Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9

R. :

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
   let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
   let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us bow down in worship;
   let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
   and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
   “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
   as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
   they tested me though they had seen my works.”

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.


Second Reading
1 Cor 7:32-35

A virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord that she may be holy.

A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

Brothers and sisters:
I should like you to be free of anxieties.
An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord,
   how he may please the Lord.
But a married man is anxious about the things of the world,
   how he may please his wife, and he is divided.
An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord,
   so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.
A married woman, on the other hand,
   is anxious about the things of the world,
   how she may please her husband.
I am telling you this for your own benefit,
   not to impose a restraint upon you,
   but for the sake of propriety
   and adherence to the Lord without distraction.


Gospel Acclamation
Mt 4:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light;
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death,
light has arisen.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.


Gospel
Mk 1:21-28

He taught them as one having authority.

croce_vangelo.pngA reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

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.

At the end of the Gospel, the Deacon, or the Priest, acclaims:

The Gospel of the Lord.

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