4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 31st Jan 2021

Theme: WE ARE TO BE THE PROPHETS OF GOD; TO LISTEN, OBEY AND SPEAK THE WORD OF GOD

  • Deuteronomy 18:15-20;
  • Psalm 94 (95): 1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 9;
  • 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
  • Mark 1:21-28

1. Today is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us to be the prophets of God; to listen, obey and to speak the word of God. 

    The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the Messianic Prophet of God who teaches new teachings and who teaches with authority! Jesus the New Moses does not only repeat the Law of Moses, but he teaches the New Law of Love of God and Love of Neighbor! It is this Holy Spirit of God’s love that comes from His death and resurrection that has the power to drive away the Devil and destroy sin and death!   

    Today the Catholic Church continues the prophetic role of Jesus and speaks the word of God to expel the Devil and to destroy sin and death! Today the Catholic Church speaks up against the culture of death! Today the Catholic Church speaks up against abortion, war, destruction of the environment, social injustice, etc. The Catholic Church is pro-life. The so called pro-choice is in fact pro-death!

    The Catholic Church also speaks up against the war in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas where many Palestinians were killed – many of them women and children. The Church speaks for peace, justice and forgiveness. There can be no peace without justice, but there can be no justice without forgiveness! In a globalized world and with the present economic crisis the Church is speaking up for justice for the poor, but not only justice for the poor, but also charity for the poor. The Church is also beginning to speak up for the protection of the environment!          

    The Church does not speak up out of ignorance! For the Catholic Church the word of God is not only the Bible, but the word of God is also the Church and Tradition. In fact the Church and Tradition existed before the Bible and determined the books of the New Testament! The Church is in dialogue with science, experience and reason! St. Augustine studied the philosophy of Plato and St. Thomas studied the philosophy of Aristotle! Today our Catholic seminarians spend two years studying philosophy and three years studying theology! Philosophy helps us to dialogue with science, experience and reason!        

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that we cannot speak the word of God if we do not first listen to the word of God. The first reading tells us that Jesus is the Messianic Prophet of God. He is the New Moses. The first reading tells us that God puts his words into Jesus’ mouth. We have to listen to Jesus the Word of God! Today we have to listen to his Church.

    The first reading also warns us of the false prophets who do not listen to the word of God and speak the word of God. Today too there are priests who do not listen to the Church and speak the mind of the Church.

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us not only to listen to the word of God but also to obey it! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

    “O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.” (Ps 94 (95): 8)

    The responsorial psalm is a call to praise/worship and obey God. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. Stanzas one and two are a call to praise and worship God our Shepherd and Savior. Stanza three is a call to obey God. Thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

    “O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.’” (Ps 94 (95): 8-9)

    The word Meribah means “the (place of the) quarreling”, and the word Massah means “the (place of the) test”. (Ex 17:7/CSB) Israel quarreled with God and tested God in the desert, because there was no water in the desert. (Ex 17:1-7) Thus we read in Exodus 17: 3. 7/NJB): “But tormented by thirst, the people complained to Moses. ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt,’ they said, ‘only to make us, our children and our livestock, die of thirst?’ …. ‘Is Yahweh with us, or not?’”      

    We start “Basic Ecclesial Communities” (BECs) and “Neo-Catechumenal Communities” in our parish in order to help us listen to the word of God, obey, that is, believe and act on the word of God, and speak the word of God!

4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the day, but the second reading has something important to tell us! St. Paul tells us in the second reading that it is better to remain single than to get married! Maybe St. Paul was thinking of the imminent end of the world!  

    We often only think of two vocations, that is, vocation to the priesthood and vocation to the married life, but the second reading tells us of a third vocation, that is, vocation to the single life! More importantly, the second reading tells us that whether our vocation is to the priesthood, married life or single life, our vocation is to love and serve God!

5. Today in the Eucharist we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us listen to the word of God, obey the word of God, and speak the word of God! Amen!     

                                                                                                                                   

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