A HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – JANUARY 28TH, 2018 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
St. Mark says very clearly in our Gospel text today, that the people were ASTONISHED at Jesus’ teaching. That’s a pretty strong word. Perhaps, that astonishment helps us to understand St. Andrew’s leaving John the Baptist so suddenly two weeks ago, when John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Messiah. Perhaps that astonishment also helps us to understand the calling of the fishermen last week, and how quick they were to lay down their nets and go and follow Jesus. Clearly, there was and is something about this guy! He was different. He taught differently. He acted differently. He lived out His words. He reached into lives, and He changed them forever.
So when was the last time that you were astounded? Did you get astounded this past Christmas, with something someone did for you or gave to you? Are you astonished in your relationships with your spouse, and children, and grandchildren, and parents? In the family is a pretty cool place to be astonished! Are you expecting to be astonished at next weekend’s Super Bowl, or are the commercials more astonishing to you, then the football game? Are you astonished by the new I-Phone 10? Is that your thing? Or are more astounded by the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi! What’s it take for YOU to be astonished? I suspect that in our modern world to 2018, maybe it is harder for us to be astonished. That doesn’t mean that it can happen. It does mean, I think, that we do have all have to be more open to being astonished, as people who believe. God still wants to take our breath away. Do we let Him?
What Jesus offered to all of His followers two-thousand years ago was a radical, new way of life, based on a different set of values from everybody else. Think of the Beatitudes! Jesus is not calling us to the same ole, same ole! He’s calling us to new way of life that works and that will get us safely home to Heaven, when our time in this world is over! The Government is NOT offering us that! Wall Street is not and cannot offer us that. Hollywood and Netflix can’t do that, no matter how much they try and astonish us! Not even Amazon, or Apple, or Walmart, or even Google can astonish us in the same way that Jesus wants to! Even two-thousand years later, it is still a completely new teaching, taught with authority and security, where we know we can put our trust. Isn’t that the real question today? Who can we trust? Sure seems like everybody in the world is always letting us down. Our God will not. That’s why Andrew and Peter, and James and John immediately got up, left their boats, and when with Jesus. There was no better deal. And in today’s Gospel, it is also why the possessed man’s demons cry out in the presence of Jesus, because they know the Real Thing! They know that they are about to be expelled from the man, and they know that He has the authority to do it.
Jesus was NOT like the Scribes and Pharisees. He was not putting on a show. He had real power, and He changed real lives, and He made the world a different place, and two-thousand years later, He IS STILL astonishing and changing lives. In fact, this week, this same Jesus wants to astonish YOU! But you’ve got to trust Him in order for that to happen!
We remember today that St. Mark is writing for a community that is suffering under the oppressive persecution and power of imperial Rome. St. Mark is trying to encourage his listeners by reminding them of Jesus’ power and promises. Two-thousand years later, we too, are challenged by our own demons, personal and communal. We, too, desire and need words of encouragement, and even a reminder that Jesus Christ is the Holy One of God Who sets free, and heals, and acts with true compassion. Make no mistake about it. This Gospel serves as a reminder of this! It is meant to give us all great peace and even joy!
Today, let us be astonished! Our God continues to do amazing things. If you haven’t seen any lately, open your eyes and your heart to an astonishing God! Then with great joy, and together as His people, let us go rejoicing into His presence, for He is our God, and we are the people that He shepherds, the flock He guides!
+ May God bless us and let us be astonished, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!