4th Ordinary Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

One Sunday when I was in Jamaica, I remember that the Altar Servers seemed nervous and distracted.  I asked them if they were ok and was told that they had had to walk past the Gunmen, and the Gunmen had had their guns in their hands.  As the Gunmen were only about thirty meters from the Church, I became pretty scared.  I needed to figure out what to do.  I could do nothing and let the people come to Church in fear or I could go and speak with the Gunmen.  It wasn’t so dangerous for the priest to talk to the Gunmen, as we were familiar to them, but for a guy from New Brunswick, it was still pretty intimidating.  I went outside, said a quick prayer for courage, and went to speak with them.  When I told them of the reactions of our parishioners, they said “Respect” and put their guns away.  While in Jamaica, I was always confused by the presence of violence done by those who also believed.  I think all of us can equally feel my confusion – doesn’t our faith make certain things or ways of life off-limits?  I think all of us would agree that a life of violence is incompatible with Christian faith.  And yet, when we begin to think of smaller, less dramatic ways of living contrary to the way of Christ, we can begin to realize not only the need of others for redemption and salvation, but also our own.  Is it not true that sometimes we put another person down?  Isn’t it true that sometimes we can gossip or give the worst possible interpretation to the words or actions by another?  The list could go on, the important thing is for each of us to know, in our heart, that our Christian life in “on the way,” it is not completed.  We all need the Lord to save us.

In this week’s Gospel, we see Jesus teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.  We do not know what he taught, only that those who heard him were “astounded” and that he spoke as “one having authority.”  We can imagine that the Lord spoke as he always spoke, that is, he shared words of mercy, love, justice, compassion, forgiveness and the presence of the kingdom of God.  In response to his words of truth, an unclean spirit, within a man, knew that God’s kingdom has no room for evil, no room for what takes away life and love.  And so the unclean spirit 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.”  Yes, Jesus of Nazareth had come to destroy him, to destroy evil in its seductive influence in nudging us along to become a person God did not create us to be.  God made us to love, evil wants us to hate.  God made us to be understanding and gentle, evil wants us to be self-righteous and judgmental.  God made us to be merciful and forgiving, evil wants us to hold grudges.  God made us to hope in him, evil wants us to despair of God’s presence and care.  I think we can all see parts of ourselves in a lot of this sinfulness.  And yet we can also see the action of Christ.  To the unclean spirit, “Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’”  
As God’s beloved sons and daughters, we may know these two things.  On the one hand, we feel within our hearts and hear in some of our words and see in some of our actions, the need to be redeemed and saved.  And at the same time, and this is what gives us the courage to open our hearts and our lives to his gentle touch and embrace, we follow and love a God who wants to redeem and save.  This gives us joy, freedom, hope and life.  We go to him and he receives us.  We fall on our knees in guilt and he picks us up in love.  We are partially alive and he gives the fullness of life.  “What is this?  A new teaching – with authority!”  It is indeed – we are being loved and so we are being saved.  Be not afraid, let’s open our hearts even wider to his redemption and his love.  

God Bless & Take Care!

Weekly Parish Bulletin472.67 KB

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