4th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Reading* Deuteronomy 18:15-20 *Psalm 95 * Corinthians 7:17, 32-35 * Mark 1:21-28
Today when someone is applying for a job, their resume takes a great deal of preparation. There is as much emphases put on the covering letter as in the details on why the one applying for the position would be the perfect candidate.
Often we miss reading or interpreting the document that describes exactly the duties for which a person is responsible if they are to carry out their job. Sometimes this description tells them what they are not to do, as well as what they are to do. So if you happen to be in the cleaning business people will want to know things like: Do you do windows? Will you wash floors or clean the oven? Do you take out the garbage or clean the dust from under the beds? We want to know what we are going to get for our money.
Usually the more important or complicated the job, then the more important and complicated the job description. If you are the chief executive officer of the second largest company in the world, your job description may run several pages and spell out in great detail what you are to do in your position.
To put it into a faith concept, we have two job descriptions one as our career and the other as a faith commitment. For this our description is very short-perhaps the shortest job description that was ever written. For example, we find it in the Baptismal ceremony because it is there, that we are officially given our identity as Christians. The first questioned asked: What name do you give this child? Answer – usually a Christian name for who is being baptized. The 2nd question is: What do you ask of God’s Church for? One word answer: ‘Baptism’ There we are told in just a few words who we are, and how we are to be. The minister of the Sacrament proclaims that we are anointed as priest, prophet and king. Just three little words without much explanation. But these three words are to guide us for the rest of our lives. Today we are given the image of Jesus as prophet.
What is and is not a prophet!
First, what is a prophet not. He or she is not someone who regularly takes out a crystal ball to look into the future. This is the popular understanding of prophet, but not the Biblical one. A prophet is not a conformist. He or she doesn't really care what others think about them. They do not look to be honoured or favoured by people. Their only concern is what God thinks about them. They are not tolerant of things people do, simply because everyone seems to be doing it.
What is a prophet? In other words, who are we called to be as prophets? The prophet stands up for what he or she thinks is the will of God. What the world thinks doesn't really matter. What is popular or accepted doesn't really matter. As a prophet we believe that we are sent by God. Now that sounds very presumptuous doesn't it? Imagine that you and I are sent by God. But that is exactly how it is. Through our Baptism we have been anointed and sent. It doesn't matter that we feel inadequate, or that we don't see how we can do the job that God has sent us to do. God has promised to be with us as we try to be messengers of God's will. This is what Moses was doing; he was following his job description and as long as his followers listened and did as requested, the reward was eternity with God.
Another important tool for the prophet is highlighted in today's psalm when we hear that refrain: Harden not your hearts. A hardened heart is one that is closed to seeing anything new. That is the exact opposite of what being a prophet is, since a prophet has to be intensely aware of what is going on in the world. We will not be able to be prophets if we are ignorant of what is happening in our society and in the world at large. This openness enables us to see new places and situations where the Gospel needs to be applied.
As we hear St. Mark’s Gospel today about how Jesus being in Capernaum, on the Sabbath entered the synagogue which is a place of teaching versa a Temple which is a place for worship and sacrifice. There are events in our lives that no resume or job description can prepare us for, the unexpected, so we have to rely on other resources; namely our faith and the Holy Spirit. Jesus gives that example to us as we heard how the crowds in the synagogue saw something different in this young rabbi from Nazareth who is just starting his teachings. I am sure the scribes where thinking, oh just let him go he will be in a trap or better still be rejected from the synagogue. But to their dismay, Jesus words bear the weight of truth. This sometimes resonates in us when we hear the truth, and for the crowds in today’s Gospel they knew Our Lord’s teachings’ ring true.
It speaks to something in our hearts, be it a conversion or simply a confirmation of the upright life we are trying to lead. Yes, we need the truth, and Our Lord is the truth in Person. Society today focuses a lot on opinion. I think we are all ‘opinioned out’ on everything related to Covid from regulations to vaccinations it is now simply ‘Covid Fatigue’, let alone events going on around the world. The reality is often opinion do not go very deep.
Today many people don’t want to speak out at all for feat of being labeled as judgment, but also, at times, out of a mistaken idea that two apparently irreconcilable beliefs can be true; everyone’s got their “truth,” and nobody should question it. This attitude loses sight of the fact that there is a truth to everything, and we’re all seeking to understand it and embrace it in our lives.
The Gospel brought to us by Our Lord brings that truth to us. It helps us cut through opinions that may veil untruths.
We have heard this Gospel many times and each time there can be a different interpretation. It reminds me that we have to listen to Our Lord with renewed attention today through his Word, confident that it is the truth, and not be shy about helping others learn the truth as well.
So, Jesus’ presence and words made him trustworthy to the people, setting them free to believe and be changed.
That, my friends, is real power, and we all have that power to make a difference for having lived.
In closing, now we can go back to our Faith Resume’. Our mission must be to do the will of the one who sends us (Jesus), and complete his mission, to show much God loves us, and calls us to make a difference by our service to others. To be that prophet that we are all called to be, simply speak the truth to power with power to become merciful and an instrument of real change in what many might say a world that’s gone mad. If we do this with authority, then Christ’s fame will again be spread throughout the world. The choice is ours. Let us choose wisely.