Homily for February 1, 2015: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Msgr. Jim Miller

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 1, 2015

Reading 1 Dt 18:15-20

Responsorial Psalm Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2 1 Cor 7:32-35

Gospel Mk 1:21-28

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“Oh, that today you would hear his voice: ‘harden not your hearts. . . ‘.”   These words from Psalm 95 encourage us to listen to God in our life.   In Deuteronomy Moses said that the Lord told him “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.  Whoever will not listen to my words  which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it.”  It sounds to me like we have an obligation to listen and learn from Jesus.

How well do you listen to other people?   How well do you listen to our homilies?  Sometimes my mind starts wandering and I find it is difficult to concentrate.   Something that is said triggers a thought that distracts me and before you know it I may have missed hearing something that was important.  This could happen to husbands and wives or parents and children when we are trying to multitask---doing at least two things at once and we find that we are neglecting one or not doing justice to either activity.

There was a newspaper article this week that suggested we could learn to increase our ability to concentrate by turning on TV and then reading a book and blocking out the TV noise!!   They even suggested increasing the volume and then reading!!   I am sure many homes have enough distractions to make reading or I would suggest praying—a challenge for one’s concentration.

We often find it easier to listen when we hear a good story or maybe a good joke.  A little boy was kneeling beside his bed with his mother and grandmother and softly saying his prayers, “Dear God, please bless Mummy and Daddy and all the family and please give me a good night’s sleep.”  Suddenly he looked up and shouted, “And don’t forget to give me a bicycle for my birthday!!”  “There is no need to shout like that,” said his mother.  “God isn’t deaf.”  “No,” said the little boy, “but Grandma is.”!!

Now let’s look at the Gospel.   Jesus comes to Capernaum on the shore of the Sea of Galilee with His disciples.  He goes into the synagogue and teaches those in attendance with authority and they are surprised.  Then a man with an unclean spirit who was present for all this cries 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.”    Don’t you wonder with me what he was doing in the synagogue , a house of prayer?   What was his unclean spirit?   The New Jerome Biblical Commentary states it this way.  “The man was possessed by an evil force; it was not a matter of ritual impurity.  The idea was that the man’s behavior was due to an outside force under the direction of Satan.  Jesus’ exorcisms were viewed as victorious moments in the ongoing struggle with Satan.”   When I see the news and hear about people being killed or tortured I see the sign of evil.   When I see people coming down from a drug high paranoid and seeing things I know the devil is present.   I have been in the presence of some people that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and I knew there was evil in front of me.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite.  He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature.  He cannot prevent the building up of God’s reign.  Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries – of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature – to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history.  It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but ‘we know that in everything God works for good with those who love him.’”

Beware of the evil one but do not fear the evil one---Jesus has power over him.   The devil is the one who tells you that you can do whatever you want but does not tell you the consequences.  

Jesus has a new teaching with authority.  We are to listen to Him.   We are to study him in what he said and what he did.   We are never too old to learn something more.   The challenge may be in remembering it!!   “Oh, that today you would hear his voice:  ‘HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS. . . ‘”