Sunday Homilies


Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel, Mark 1:21-28

We hear of the town of Capernaum numerous times in the New Testament. It was a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee that is believed to have been the home of Peter, as well as near the homes of Andrew, James, John and Matthew. It was the town that Jesus worked out of when in Galilee. Last week we read the Gospel passage that precedes the one for this week, and we heard of Jesus calling Peter, Andrew, James and John to be his disciples. This week we read that they followed him to Capernaum where Jesus went to the Synagogue to teach.

Mark doesn’t tell us what Jesus taught, but he does tell us the power of his teaching. Jesus taught with authority, and didn’t merely get up and give a “nice” talk or a well-organized sermon. We are told of the reaction of the people, they “were astonished at his teaching.” This astonishment was because Jesus taught with “authority, and not like the scribes.” No greater authority of the scriptures ever lived than Jesus for he is the “Word made Flesh.” The Gospel of John begins with the prologue that begins with “In the beginning was the Word,” and he goes on to describe the birth of Jesus as “and the Word was made flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Jesus taught with authority because he is the authority, the second person of the Trinity, the Word himself. Speaking with authority is part of his very nature.

It is interesting that when he spoke, he was recognized for who he was, “The Holy One of God.” by the unclean spirit. The enemy of God was able to recognize the presence of God, and was in fear of what that meant for them, and rightly so, for Jesus rebuked the spirits and cast them out. At the same time the people who were “astonished” at his teaching, didn’t seem to recognize who it was who was teaching. They may have been astonished, but there were no cries of adoration from the people, but only interest that this new teacher who came to town spoke so well.

Our lives are filled with the experience of God’s Word, whether it be the presence of Jesus, the Word made Flesh, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Scripture readings we hear at Mass, or Scripture readings we read on our own, or come across in mediation books or even greeting cards. God’s word is all around us and our challenge is to recognize it for what it is; The Word of God. And our challenge is to recognize the authority of this Word. The Blessed Sacrament is not just a nice symbol meant to remind us of Jesus, it is Jesus – body and blood, soul and divinity. The author of life comes to us so that we might have life, and have it to the full. The words we hear in the scriptures are not merely nice words meant to inspire, they are God’s Word, meant to give us life.

A lesson from this Gospel is for us to recognize and acknowledge the authority of Jesus as present to us in both Word and Sacrament. Approach the Communion and acknowledge that we are receiving the Holy One of God, and receive Him with awe and reverence. Listen to the Scriptures and be astonished by what we hear. It is God’s Word we are listening to, may we allow the word to enter deeply in our hearts so as to transform us to receive more and more of his life.

Killian Loch, O.S.B.