Homily for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us (Ps 95: 6-7)
The Holy Scriptures on this Sunday remind me of a beautiful prayer, and it is the Collect for the First Week in Ordinary Time, the week after Christmas Season: “Attend to the pleas of your people with heavenly care, O Lord, we pray, that they may see what must be done and gain strength to do what they have seen. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one god, forever and ever. R. Amen.” Please note that we ask for two things: to see what must be done and to gain strength to do it. To be the disciples of Christ, we must have both.
In the Gospel today, Jesus drove out an unclean spirit in the synagogue. The evangelist recorded that when the man with an unclean spirit caught sight of Jesus, 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!” (Mk 1: 24). The unclean spirit knew exactly who Jesus is: the Holy One of God. Knowing the identity of Jesus entails that he knew what must be done, namely to prostrate himself in giving homage to the Lord. The unclean spirit saw what must be done, but did not have the strength to do it.
In the first reading, Moses spoke to all the people: “A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen”(Dt 18:15). Our faith tells us that Jesus is the fulfillment of what Moses promised to the people: Jesus communicates God’s will to the human family and further gave His life on the Cross to fulfill the Father’s will. In Jesus, we see that the Prophet saw what must be done and gained strength to do what He had seen.
How can all of this be applied to us? On the day of our baptism, the priest anointed us on our forehead with the following instruction: “Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, has freed you from sin, given you new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and join you to his people. He now anoints you with the Chrism of salvation, so that you may remain members of Christ, Priest, Prophet, and King, unto eternal life” (Order of Baptism of Children, no. 62). Through baptism, we are the members of the Christ who is Priest, Prophet, and King. As prophetic people, we are called to know what must be done, i.e., the will of God, and have the courage to do God’s will. To know and to do God’s will are what St. Paul in the second reading today describes as a life “free of anxieties”(1Cor 32).
In short, what separates the unclean spirit from authentic God’s people/prophetic people? The unclean spirit knew exactly what must be done, but did not have the strength to do it. A disciple of the Lord asked for the grace to know God’s will and let His presence transform his/her entire life.