for Sunday, February 1, 2015
The connection between the first reading today and the Gospel is so very strong. Moses, in the first reading, from the Book of Deuteronomy, tells the people that God Himself will raise up a prophet for them, one who is their own relative and one to whom they should listen. We who follow Jesus come to recognize that He, Jesus, is the fulfillment of this prophecy - and even more than we could have imagined. He is our relative, a human like us in all things except sin. He shares our humanity with us and speaks to us about God. The challenge - and this also comes from Deuteronomy, is to listen to Him and to follow His words.
The Gospel of Mark today tells us about Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum. Jesus teaches as one having authority and the people recognize that immediately. Even more, Jesus commands unclean spirits and they obey Him. This scares the people and they are no longer certain that Jesus comes from God. They have become accustomed to a safe practice of their faith and the actions of Jesus begin to challenge their sense of security.
Jesus challenges us! Faith in God is not about being secure. Faith in God is about having a living relationship with God, a personal relationship - and because of that relationship, doing the will of God in every aspect of our life. Far too often we hope that if we just do the right things, we can somehow achieve salvation. We need to become acutely aware of the difference between performing actions to appease God and acting out of a deep, personal relationship with the living God.
The second reading, from the First Letter to the Corinthians, shows us the advice of Saint Paul. This is advice to people about how to live. Saint Paul wants the followers of Jesus to be free of anxiety and so counsels chaste celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom. We know that Saint Paul never imposed chaste celibacy as a requirement. Rather, Saint Paul counsels women and men that chaste celibacy might be a better way to live in order to give one’s energies to the living God. Counsel to others is to help them seek God with all their being. Counsel is to help others live fully because of their personal relationship with God.
The Christian traditional recognizes both chaste celibates and married women and men as saints: those who have followed God as completely as possible in this life. When we read an honest life of a saint, we begin to understand a bit what it means to live out of a deep, personal relationship with God.
God has raised up a prophet for us, Jesus the Christ. God has given us His own Son to be our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is this Jesus who challenges us today to see His presence in our world and to respond with our whole being to that presence. You and I can convert the whole world, if we live from that relationship.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Deuteronomy 18.15-20
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 7.32-35
Gospel: Mark 1.21-28
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: