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Pastor's Letter 20240128 - 28 January 2024 - Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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January 28th, 2024

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Jesus Teaches in the Temple

 Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “Teaching with Authority”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

(Deuteronomy 18:15-20)  Moses foretold the coming of a Prophet who would speak God’s Word to the people.  A prophet never speaks on his own authority, but on behalf of God.  Jews believed God would raise up a prophet in the last days, like Moses.  


(1 Corinthians 7:32-35)  Paul urged everyone, but especially those who were celibate, to give their undivided attention to the Lord.  Marriage is not a shackle, but an aid—enabling two hearts to come together to the Lord.


(Mark 1:21-28)  The prophecy of Moses is fulfilled in Jesus.  Early Christians regarded Jesus as the awaited Prophet, whose teaching with authority was confirmed by miracles—a sign that God was with Him.  Those who would preach should be prepared to meet the demons of ignorance, poverty, apathy and greed.


Authoritative Teaching

Most people associate authority with people who have a background of education, and thereby possess a basis for their proclamations.  We hear, from very early in our lives, our teachers, presenting “facts” about a myriad of subjects, and expect them to be truthful, supported by their very position.  Only later in our educational “careers” are we presented with the opportunity to question what is presented.  

In the 1960s, it was considered de rigueur to question everything—educators, politicians, religious leaders, etc.  Growing up in the 1950s, I suspect very few would have done so, overtly, as having “respect for your elders” held sway as a basic tenet of polite society.  

Since that time, holding contrary views to such sources of authority has become almost “commonplace.”  We even see protesters cropping up in such unlikely places as elementary schools, where the “basics” of education are proffered….  In many cases, I wonder if those “youth protesters” have any idea about what they are objecting.  

In Mark’s Gospel, today, we hear of His casting out a demon from a person in the crowd.  Coupled with His words of peace, and promise of salvation, it would be logical to assume such activities should have inspired many more to readily accept Him.  

In Jesus’ time and culture, teaching authority was given to the rabbis, including the Scribes and Pharisees.  Of course, then, too, most people were illiterate, without the basics of reading and writing, having been schooled manly in an “oral tradition.”  So it is understandable that an itinerant preacher, such as Jesus—and John the Baptist, before Him—would be considered with some skepticism by the “rank and file” Jewish person of the day.  Certainly, daring to preach in the synagogue, in the presence of accepted masters, they would have “raised some hackles,” among the gentry.  When we consider how few educated people even existed then; how many magi and sorcerers were about; and how easily swayed were their primitive minds, it becomes more understandable that Jesus may have had detractors.  Should such an individual arise among us, in our socially-conscious age, I suspect very few would easily be swept into blanket belief.  (In the modern presentation of Jesus’ life and times, The Chosen, produced by Angel Studios, we see dramatized the shocked reaction of the rabbinical class to Jesus, presenting Himself as The Law.  In fact, as it shown therein, the authorities were adamant that His preaching be squashed and put to rest.  We see Jesus escaping their attempt to stone Him, after one such occasion, after preaching in the synagogue at Nazareth.)

It's only in retrospect, having nearly 2,000 years of history to aid our reflection, that we can take a global perspective on the Christ-event.  Our faith teaches us that our Blessed Lord, Jesus, was, indeed, the Son of God.  Holy Scripture attests to that with glowing evidence for our consideration.  Studying the ancient texts, we hear the ancient prophecies foretelling of His coming into the world, and can fathom how He brought those prophecies to fruition.  

It is that same faith that assists us to dismiss other “false prophets,” that have littered the scene over the centuries.  This is not to say that quite a few have had enormous impact on people (Adolph Hitler, and Jim Jones, to name just two.)  

Modern science has attempted to clarify the many mystical occurrences of which we read in the Bible.  To date, however, most explanations are only theoretical, having been made more difficult by the passage of time, and lack of physical evidence.  However, when taken against the strength of faith, most believers would dismiss such attempts as irrelevant.  We are firm in our beliefs, and causal explanations do little to dissuade us from our tenets.  

As a scientist by training, I, too, have heard the postulations suggested to elucidate critical understanding for many of the teachings of Scripture.  They run the gamut from the “many universes,” and “M-theory” to explain the beginning of time; geological rationale for “the Flood;” gravitational speculation for the “Parting of the Red Sea;” astronomical evidence to explain “the Star in the East” that led the Wise Men to Bethlehem; psychological rationale for “casting out of demons;” to the “swoon theory," surrounding the Resurrection of Jesus.  

But when placed aside our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, sent in time to redeem us from sin, and His message of peace and repentance, none of it matters.  We remain undeterred in our belief that real people walked with Jesus; recorded His deeds; heard Him profess the Two Great Commandments;” and remains with us, through the intercession of the Holy Spirit, to guide us through life to our eternal reward.  That they were willing to give up their lives for their witness offers more substance than any speculation, however enlightened.  

Still, it can be quite confusing to see people so reticent to accept Jesus and His teaching, considering how many miraculous deeds accompanied His ministry.  Jesus stands as our ultimate Authority, offering us a living faith, replete with ample evidence, if we are simply willing to accept Him into our hearts.  

May God Richly Bless You!


Come, Christians, Join to Sing.docx

To view a recording of today's Holy mass, click here:

Edited by Father Michael
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