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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Such Power. The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2021

                                                          Such Power.

The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2021

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January 31, 2021

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



The villagers in Capernaum realize that the words of Jesus have an unmatched veracity that when he speaks, good actions result. In this case the authoritative preaching of Jesus has power to expel demons, who recognize immediately that he is the Holy One of God. The potency of his words do not only move people emotionally and spiritually, but they bring about right actions and authority. In this passage, this is his first moment of preaching, and the young man that everyone knew as a carpenter has seriously impressed the most learned community elders.


As we listen to the Gospel words, we are called to something similar: we are to hear and to act, because when we act, we know that faith has taken root. It is dangerous for our well-being to repeatedly feel an emotion and then never translate it into an action, because it will only lead us to a hardening of our hearts. We are reluctant to act at once. We do this with lifestyle changes, whether it is to limit sugar, alcohol, tobacco, or exercise. If we do not act right away, if the time is never now, when will it be time? We can feel moved to higher matters, we might have the conviction, but if we do not convert our feelings into action, we are left with resignation and despair.


Think about a well-to-do person who goes to a theater performance and is in tears while watching the play, and is intensely moved to deep emotions, but then when the play is over, the person steps outside the theater, notices how someone is in a misfortunate situation, and does not really pay attention to his or her plight. The tears that flowed because the core of humanity was profoundly touched were wasted. The whole theatrical experience was wasted if one does not become aware of an opportunity to put compassion into action. We cannot compartmentalize our emotions; we are to integrate them. They must provide us the energy for our good actions. 


The only way for us to escape the danger of unconsciously substituting emotion for action is to act on the emotion at once, before we have a chance to talk ourselves out of it, before we can rationalize our next steps. It does not mean that we are reckless and have not thought it through; it means we are rightly acting on our emotions and we still retain the ability to make further choices down the road. You have to put the first step into action. Just think about the hardest sentence to write in any essay; it is the first one; the most difficult line to draw on a blank piece of paper is the first one, because the blank page has tremendous power to stop us in our track. 


The first move is important and it can be adjusted, and when we are moved by Jesus and our emotions are engaged, we have to begin to express those emotions in daily life. That might mean that we are impelled to help someone, to be of greater service, to get rid of something evil, to be less selfish. Those are great resolutions, and we have to translate those emotions into practical action. Our page is no longer blank, but it is filled with the richest, choicest emotions we have. The rest is easy, and we can begin to take the long view and engage our reason. Our souls can become endangered it if we hear the Gospel proclaimed again and again and we do nothing to translate the emotion into answer Christ’s call to us.


The words that we just heard proclaimed to us? They are from Jesus of Nazareth, the Holy One of God, the one whose words can expel demons, calm storms, heal, and even raise from the dead. These words are the source of eternal life. Such power. Such authoritative power. Wow! 


Scripture for Daily Mass


First Reading:

Monday: (Hebrews 11) Yet all these, though approved because of their faith, did not receive what had been promised. God had foreseen something better for us, so that without us they should not be made perfect.


Tuesday: (Malachy 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. Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.


Wednesday: (Hebrews 12) Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one be deprived of the grace of God, that no bitter root spring up and cause trouble, through which many may become defiled.


Thursday: (Hebrews 12) No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled Blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.


Friday (Hebrews 13) Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Be mindful of prisoners as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body.


Saturday (Hebrews 13) Through Jesus, let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind. 



Monday: (Mark 5) The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain. In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.


Tuesday: (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, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.


Wednesday (Mark 6) They said, “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?” And they took offense at him. 


Thursday (Mark 6) “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance.


Friday (Mark 6) Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.


Saturday (Mark 6) “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.


Saints of the Week


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.


February 3: Angsar, bishop (815-865), became a monk to preach to pagans. He lived at the French Benedictine monastery of New Corbie and was sent to preach in Denmark and Sweden. He was made abbot and then became archbishop of Hamburg. He is known as the Apostle of the North because he restored Denmark to the faith and helped bolster the faith of other Scandinavians. 


February 4: John de Brito, S.J., priest, religious, and martyr (1647-1693), was a Portuguese Jesuit missionary who served in India and was named “The Portuguese Francis Xavier” to the Indians. De Brito was martyred because he counseled a Maravan prince during his conversion to give up all but one of his wives. One of the wives was a niece to the neighboring king, who set up a round of persecutions against priests and catechists. 


February 5: Agatha, martyr, (d. 251), died in Sicily during the Diocletian persecution after she refused to give up her faith when sent to a brothel for punishment. She was subsequently tortured. Sicilians believe her intercession stopped Mount Etna from erupting the year after her burial. She has been sought as a protector against fire and in mentioned in the First Eucharistic prayer. 


February 6: Paul Miki and Companions, martyrs (d. 1597), were martyred in Nagasaki, Japan for being Christians. Miki was a Jesuit brother and a native Japanese who was killed alongside 25 clergy, religious, and laypeople. They were suspended on crosses and killed by spears thrust into their hearts. Remnants of the Christian community continued through baptism without any priestly leadership. It was discovered when Japan was reopened in 1865.


This Week in Jesuit History


  • 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. 
  • Feb 4, 1617. An imperial edict banished all missionaries from China. 
  • Feb 5, 1833. The first provincial of Maryland, Fr. William McSherry, was appointed. 
  • Feb 6, 1612. The death of Christopher Clavius, one of the greatest mathematicians and scientists of the Society.

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