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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

January 28, 2018
Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 95; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28

Often people will talk with me about their prayer. They speak of their anxiety because they never know for sure whether God is speaking to them. They want to hear God’s voice clearly, loudly, and directly, and they are disappointed when it does not happen as they want. Today’s readings give us a clue about how God talks with us and how we are to listen.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses explains that the people once asked not to have direct communication from God. At Mount Horeb, the people petitioned God through Moses to not hear God’s voice any more or to see God in the form of the the great fire again because this direct confrontation was too hard to bear. Moses would be the one to see God most directly. God granted the people their wish. God said, “I will raise up a prophet from among you and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall tell them everything I command. The prophet is to speak only what I command, and the people are to accept his words as my own.”

Therefore, throughout history, God sent people to speak on God’s behalf, and we receive God’s words indirectly. We did not know when or to whom we should listen. We were not sure how to interpret God’s words because we did not determine whether the words spoken were from a person’s individual perspective or from God.

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus bursts onto the scene and speaks with astounding clarity and power. Villagers are amazed at his teaching authority because his words have a qualitative difference from those of the scribes. At Capernaum, as Jesus was teaching, unclean spirits cried out, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God.” The point of this scripture is that Jesus is the only one since the time of Moses to speak most clearly on behalf of God.

Today, most of us want God to speak directly to us, and we forget that we asked God not to have this direct relationship because it is hard to bear, but that we have it through others. The problem is that we do not trust prophets or other humans who are ordained to speak for God because many times they represent their own interests and not God’s. God also gave us Jesus as someone to whom we can easily relate, but some people want to speak directly to God and they cut Jesus out of the dialogue. We overlook the help we have been given.

Let us recognize that Christ still has power. He still speaks through other people – often. He still shows that he has authority over this world and is present in many of the day’s events. He speaks through Scripture, which is a reason for us to study it. He is still the One who speaks uniquely for God, and he has given us authority to speak on his behalf because we know God through him. It helps us to recognize that the Holy One of God lives and speaks through many people today. God’s words bring peace, joy, comfort, and compassion. Follow these words of love. Trust they are from God. Let yourself be drawn to the One who is always reaching out to you – through the kindness and love of others.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (2 Samuel 15) "If my own son, who came forth from my loins, is seeking my life, how much more might this Benjaminite do so? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to. Perhaps the LORD will look upon my affliction and make it up to me with benefits for the curses he is uttering this day."
Tuesday: (2 Samuel 18) Absalom was mounted on a mule, and, as the mule passed under the branches of a large terebinth, his hair caught fast in the tree. He hung between heaven and earth while the mule he had been riding ran off. And taking three pikes in hand, he thrust for the heart of Absalom, still hanging from the tree alive.
Wednesday: (2 Samuel 24) When David saw the angel who was striking the people, he said to the LORD: "It is I who have sinned; it is I, the shepherd, who have done wrong. But these are sheep; what have they done? Punish me and my kindred."
Thursday: (1 Kings 2) When the time of David's death drew near, he gave these instructions to his son Solomon: "Keep the mandate of the LORD, your God, following his ways and observing his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do.
Friday (Malachi 3) Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; And suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Saturday (1 Kings 3) od said, "Ask something of me and I will give it to you." Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.

Monday: (Mark 5) When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him. The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
Tuesday: (Mark 5)  Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live." He went off with him and a large crowd followed him.
Wednesday (Mark 6) “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” 
Thursday (Mark 6) Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick –no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
Friday (Luke 2) When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
Saturday (Mark 6) The Apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” 

Saints of the Week

January 28: Thomas Aquinas, priest and Doctor (1225-1274), studied in a Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino as a boy. He joined the newly formed Dominicans where he studied in France and Italy. He is a giant scholar. He wrote much on Scripture and theology, including his summation of theology (Summa Theologiae). He wrote several songs for liturgy, such as the Tantum Ergo, Pange Lingua, and Adoro Te Devote.

January 31: John Bosco, priest (1815-1888), formed his Society to aid children who were imprisoned. He used Francis de Sales as his inspiration. He taught poor and working class boys in the evenings wherever it was possible to meet them - in fields, factories, or homes. A sister community was set up to assist young girls who were sent to work.

February 2: The Presentation of the Lord is the rite by which the firstborn male is presented in the Temple as an offering to God. It occurs 40 days after the birth while the new mother is considered ritually unclean. Two church elders, Simeon and Anna, who represent the old covenant, praise Jesus and warn his mother that her heart will be pierced as her son will bring the salvation of many.

February 3: Blase, bishop and martyr (d. 316), was an Armenian martyr of the persecution of Licinius. Legends hold that a boy, choking to death on a fishbone, was miraculously cured. Blase's intercession has been invoked for cures for throat afflictions. The candles presented at Candlemas the day earlier are used in the rite of the blessings of throats.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Jan 28, 1853. Fr. General John Roothaan, wishing to resign his office, summoned a General Congregation, but died on May 8, before it assembled.
·      Jan 29, 1923. Woodstock scholastics kept a fire vigil for several months to prevent the Ku Klux Klan from setting the college on fire.
·      Jan 30, 1633. At Avignon, Fr. John Pujol, a famous master of novices, died. He ordered one of them to water a dry stick, which miraculously sprouted.
·      Jan 31, 1774. Fr. General Laurence Ricci, a prisoner in Castel S Angelo, claimed his liberty, since his innocence had been fully vindicated. He received from the Papal Congregation the reply that they would think about it. Pope Clement XIV was said at this time to be mentally afflicted.
·      Feb 1, 1549. The first Jesuit missionaries to go to Brazil set sail from Lisbon, Portugal, under Fr. Emmanuel de Nobrega.
·      Feb 2, 1528. Ignatius arrived in Paris to begin his program of studies at the University of Paris.

·      Feb 3, 1571. In Florida, the martyrdom of Fr. Louis Quiros and two novices, shot with arrows by an apostate Indian.

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