Sunday, January 31, 2021

New Eyes and New Heart (4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Reading Reflections)

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Readings (Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28)

Think of a movie that you used to watch, a book you read, a song you listened to over and over as a child, and now you're watching it, reading it, or listening to it as an adult.  Suddenly you have a different view of the storylines, the characters; a different understanding of the meaning behind actions and words because you are now seeing the whole thing through the lens of experience and wisdom that you did not have as a child.  It took a new experience for it to hit you on a much deeper level.

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is teaching in the temple and "he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes".  As he is teaching a man with an unclean spirit questions him, and Jesus tells the spirit to leave this man's body and it does.  The people were astonished, and recognized that with his authority he even commands unclean spirits.

But where did this authority come from?  In the First Reading, God had told Moses "I will raise up for them a prophet like you form among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him." The voice of Jesus rings with words from the Father Himself, a new authority which the people had never before encountered.  Suddenly the teachings which they had heard over and over before they heard in a new light, and it was all made clearer.  What made it different was that it was God speaking directly to through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

The human mind is astounding.  We as a species have the capacity and ability to think abstractly and see what is beyond the page in front of us.  An experience can become symbolic for us, representing something that is deeper and more meaningful than a mere mundane scenario that is to be forgotten.  We also have the ability to change our perspectives, which can also change in hindsight as we gain more insight.  We are able to emphasize and sympathize.

No, we don't have Jesus directly in front of us teaching us in a crowd of people.  Nor do we have "proof" of the amount of authority He has as we watch him drive out unclean spirits.  But we do believe in God's existence.  We are aware of His omnipresent authority over all of creation.  And though there may be times we may feel forsaken, does not diminish his omnipotence or omniscience, including what is in the depths of our hearts.

So now it is our turn to change our perspective, and instead of seeing things as the world would see it, how would God like us to see it?  In times of struggle, try and see how he is trying to strengthen you, the graces He has bestowed upon you.  In times of joy, give thanks for the blessings.  And know that when you are hurting, Jesus knows your pain because He suffered pain.  The one with the authority to speak the Words of God had to endure suffering greater than we can possibly fathom. How can we change our perspective?  Look at everything within a prayer.