Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear All,

The readings today speak to me about authority and anxiety.  In the First Reading from the Book Deuteronomy we find one of the many stories of the Old Testament announcing to the people that God will raise a prophet from their midst in the future, that will speak what God tells him.  Moses instructs his followers throughout the ages to listen to this prophet.  Now, in hindsight, we know that all these announcements point to Jesus Christ. 

Mark’s Gospel today, describing the opening of the teaching ministry, says that Jesus taught as one having authority.  Authority comes from the Latin term autocritas, which in its origin refers to rightful ownership of the article in question, according to the French linguist Beneviste. To reinforce the notion of authority we hear the first recorded miracle, of Jesus freeing a possessed man from an unclean spirit.  It is interesting to note that the Gospel does not tell us what it is Jesus taught.  According to one tradition, this would not be Mark’s fault, but Peter’s fault.  It is said that the origin to the earliest of the three Synoptic gospels is Peter dictating his memories to possibly his son.  We know Peter was married, because his mother in law is cured from a fever in the very next story in Mark’s Gospel.  But he does tell us that he taught different than the scribes.  To me this means that he did not repeat what others said, but told the things as he saw them, even if it upset some of the established power (Scribes, Pharisees, Temple leaders of his time).  After casting out the unclean spirit you can hear the murmurs in amazement among the audience: a new teaching authority!  And we can see by the sequence of the story that Jesus interrupts whatever he is teaching to attend the sick person.  Throughout his ministry we never find him refusing a sick person a cure.

Paul is well aware of the unavoidable struggles and anxieties of his Corinthian community.  He wishes them to be free of them as much as possible so as to stay focused on the following of Christ.  St. Paul would readily join the prayer we say at the conclusion of the Our Father: "Protect us from all anxiety." Today’s passage of his letter may at first reading seem to be a negative attitude to marriage.  To be honest, until I read the commentary by Verna Holyhead, I saw it as such.  An Australian Benedictine nun, interprets the letter to be saying that “all lifestyles have their preoccupations and competing loyalties, whether a person is married or single” and the male and female roles are no different in this regard.  Paul invites us to free ourselves from these anxieties and that is a message we all need, for the most part in today’s challenging economic times.

A complete text of the readings at:

With God’s Love and Blessings,


P.S.  Read the commentary from one of our friends from our six years living in Germany, pointing to regional differences in Christmas season traditions


  1. Our friend Wolfgang says in an e-mail
    “For some of us the 2nd of February might be a day like many others, although it is the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council), known also as Candlemass which in former times used to be a Feast of St. Mary (Mariä Lichtmess). If you are interested to read more about it, please refer to the following link:
    In Germany - as well as in many other European countries - this is the official end of Christmas where Christmas trees and manger scenes will be removed from churches and (catholic) homes. Thus, this Sunday will be the last one in this season where you still can enjoy the Christmas tree in our church.
    Farmers over here believe that the winter might be soon over if there’ll be “storm and snow” on that very day, on the other hand, if the weather is nice, it might still take a while until spring comes (funny enough that it did come true as long as I can remember). In German it reads: Wenn’s an Lichtmess (Candlemass) stürmt und schneit, ist der Frühling nicht mehr weit.“

  2. Interesting that in Germany where the Christmas tree gets set up on Christmas eve it stays up all through the month of January, while in the US where Christmas trees get decorated on Thanksgiving weekend in November, they come down right after the early January Three Kings feast.

  3. Thank you Rainer! Our Pastor noticed the fact that the unclean spirit was the first to recognize Jesus as "The Holy One of God", also that he spoke in plural, interesting isn't it?

    The fear and anxiety in the unclean spirit says a lot...

  4. >>Jesus never refused a cure to any sick

    Does It maybe concerns the public healthcare program for the USA????

    I'm reading this interesting book (that I heartily recommend you):