4th Sunday - Gospel: Mark 1:21-28

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Jesus taught them as one having authority.

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Mark 1:21-28:

He taught them as one having authority. Mark 1:21-28

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21 And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; 24 and he cried 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.” The Holy Bible : Revised Standard Version Second Catholic edition (2006), with the ecclesiastical approval of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Thomas Nelson Publishing for Ignatius Press. The English translations of the works of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) also use the RSV-CE or its Second Edition.

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25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. The Holy Bible : Revised Standard Version Second Catholic edition (2006), with the ecclesiastical approval of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Thomas Nelson Publishing for Ignatius Press. The English translations of the works of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) also use the RSV-CE or its Second Edition.

Synagogue and a Church:

When Christianity began it was considered to be a sect or division of Judaism. Christians would go to the temple and worship on the Sabbath, Saturday, and then on Sunday would again worship at what became known as the “domestic or home churches.” “on the Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.” It would have been impossible for Jews everywhere to visit the temple in Jerusalem on the Sabbath so the synagogue system was developed. A synagogue could be opened when 10 Jewish men lived in the same area. Synagogue and a Church

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Think of it this way, we can’t all go to Rome to worship each Sunday but we can go to our own parish on a weekly basis because it is much closer, thus our local parish serves the same purpose as the synagogue. As long as Christianity was considered part of Judaism it was protect from Roman persecution. During the week the Jewish boys used the synagogue as a school but the girls were excluded from this formal education. On the Sabbath the synagogue was used to bring the community together to worship God. Why do you suppose that Jesus a visitor to the area was allowed to teach. It was the custom to invite visiting Rabbis, or teachers, to speak during the Sabbath services.

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The most amazing part of today’s reading is that the demon possessed man immediately recognized Jesus as “the Holy One of God!“ There were so many in Jesus’ day who did not, could not or would not recognized that he was sent by God to save the world but the man with the unclean spirit did. In every church in the world congregants can be found just like the man with “unclean” spirit. They emerge from the sea of congregants as people who spend a lot of time pointing out problems in the church or their dislike of those in authority. They offer no solutions, they are not actively involved in problem resolution but they seem content to help Satan in his effort to tare down kingdom of God.

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Today we read about such a man who probably attended Synagogue services for weeks, months, and years. The man emerges from the crowd of congregants not as one seeking to build up God’s kingdom, not as one seeking to live a more holy life but as one seeking to criticize the Son of God. Why is it the religious leaders didn’t recognize Jesus yet the evil spirit did? From the Gospel of John, “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (Jn. 3:19).

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Notice that when the unclean spirit left the man it convulsed him with sudden, violent and uncontrollable painful movements. Satan had lost and took out his frustration on the individual who did his bidding. When we sin, we too, are doing Satan’s bidding. When we repent, when we cast out the sin Satan uses to control our thoughts and actions, we too can find the process painful. Just like taking a flu shot, it is painful for a brief period but has rewarding long-term benefits not only for yourself but for those around you.

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