4TH SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME – B
When God gave the commandments to the Israelites, He spoke with them face to face in the fire (Dt. 5:4). But the Israelites begged to be spared in hearing the voice of God directly so Moses came in as intermediary between God and the people. From then on the prophetic tradition in the Old Testament continued with the long row of prophets. In the first reading today, Moses prophesied that God will send one final prophet who is Jesus Christ!
After the calling of the first apostles, now St. Mark presents Jesus’ first preaching and the first miracle in his gospel. This all happened in the synagogue in Capernaum. The temple in Jerusalem was the only temple where the high priest would offer worship, sacrifice and atonement while the synagogues were used to proclaim the Torah or the Old Testament scriptures by the people. Since there was no permanent teacher in the synagogue, the reading and exposition of the scriptures can be done by any competent Jew just like what Jesus did in our gospel today.
Jesus preached with authority! This is how Jesus differed with the other prophets before Him and the Pharisees and scribes. While the others were quoting the scriptures from which they got their authority to teach, Jesus was the Dabar of God, the Word personified. That Word spoken by God to create everything in Genesis is now the Word alive re-creating creation. This was manifested by the first miracle ever recorded in the gospel of St. Mark in the exorcism of the man with an unclean spirit. By saying the name of Jesus, the evil spirit thought that he had control over Him, but the word of Jesus proved to be more powerful. This is more than just exorcism! Here we can see the power of the Word: “Be quiet! Come out of him!” When the evil spirit was defeated, it meant that the proclamation of the Kingdom ushered in the healing of humanity who had been suffering from the grip of the Devil. That is why those who saw the miracle were amazed about the unusual authority of Jesus.
The Devil is as real as it was in the time of Adam and Eve, the time of Jesus and in our own time as well. It continues to pester humanity in the many disguised forms of injustice, genocides, wars, poverty, oppression, etc. It creeps its tentacles in the very fiber of our personal existence which manifest in our anger, addictions, hatred, indifference and our refusal to follow the way of righteousness. We have to be always alert because “the devil prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The Evil One continues to triumph not just when bad people sow bad deeds but most especially when good people stop doing good.
That is why, every time we do something good to others, it is not just about pricking a thorn on the devil’s head but celebrating our inherent goodness that glorifies God. Before we close our eyes in the evening, let us ask ourselves “What good have I done today?” If we can remember at least one good deed that we have done for the day, then we have not lived our day in vain…. and we are not far from the Kingdom!