4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B ~ January 28, 2024
DO WE KNOW HIM?
St. Francis de Sales was a wonderful bishop who used ordinary images to help us learn and become extraordinary people who are rooted deep in the love of Christ. He wrote a wonderful introduction to Devout Life requesting everyone to believe in Jesus Christ who calls everyone to follow him. He said: When God the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according to its own kind; he likewise commanded Christians, who are the living plants of his Church, to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his station, and his calling. I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of devotion must be adapted to the strength, to the occupation and to the duties of each one. The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged, and fresh, just as he found them. True devotion does still better. Not only does it not injure any sort of calling or occupation, but it also even embellishes and enhances it. Moreover, just as every sort of gem, cast in honey, becomes brighter and more sparkling, each according to its color, so each person becomes more acceptable and fitting in his own vocation when he sets his vocation in the context of devotion. Through devotion your family cares become more peaceful, mutual love between husband and wife becomes more sincere, the service we owe to the prince becomes more faithful, and our work, no matter what it is, becomes more pleasant and agreeable. Therefore, in whatever situations we happen to be, we can, and we must aspire to the life of perfection.
This is only if you can know him who took flesh and dwelt among us so that we can be drawn closer to the font of eternal life. Here I would like to share “God’s cover Letter” by unknown author to highlight the desire to know about God and to know that God knows us even before we were born.
To Whom It May Concern….
I heard you were considering a new manager for your life. I would like to apply for the job.
I believe I am the most qualified candidate applying. I am the only one that has ever done this job successfully. I was the first manager of life. In fact, I made all lives, so naturally I know how humanity works, and what is best to get people back into proper working condition. Hiring me will be exactly like having the manufacturer as your personal mechanic.
If this is your first time considering me, I would just like to point out that my salary has already been paid by my son, Jesus on the cross of Calvary. This salary covers the time prior to my hiring as well as my present and future employment.
If you decide to hire me, I will need to receive from you an acknowledgment that you erred in not hiring me sooner. I understand this is a strange requirement, but since you violated the manufacturer’s warrantee by placing your being under inferior management, this is a necessary prerequisite to my engagement.
Lastly, I will require a carte blanche (a blank check) to reorganizing and managing your life. I intend to make some major changes and revisions. They are not for you to worry about. I need your permission to execute these changes, My way and in My time. I will establish new goals and objectives and restructure your life to meet these requirements. Please keep your hands out of the way. Don’t try to help me and don’t resist me and we will get along fine. I really do need your full commitment and cooperation in this. If you give me those, the process of getting your life back to manufacturer’s intentions can go smoothly, without delays. I assure you: you will be pleased with the outcome.
I will require a verbal contract to all these stipulations in the presence of witnesses.
Yours Sincerely, GOD
P.S. I created the heavens and the earth. I AM.
BELOW IS MY RESUME…
GOD: Everywhere All over, Every Place ~ Phone: (123) 456-PRAY
EXPERIENCE: From the beginning of time. Before the beginning of time. From everlasting to everlasting. I made time.
ABILITY: All Powerful
PRIOR EMPLOYMENT: Created the universe, put the galaxies in place, formed man. Established heaven and earth by My spoken Word and am currently holding up the world by My power.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING: I AM and I have all knowledge.
CHARACTER REFERENCE: Love, light, and life (1 John 4:16, 1 John 1:5, John 14:6). A representative, but by no means conclusive list of other character traits follows: Wisdom (James 1:5), Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3), Truth (John 8:32), Healer (1 Peter 2:24), Strength (Phil. 4:13), Forgiveness (1 John 1:9), Provider (Phil. 4:19), Mercy (Ephesians 2:24), Good (Matthew 19:17), Peace (Romans 14:17).
AVAILABILITY: Willing and ready to take over your life. Able to put your life together again. Will bring all of who I AM into your life. Can start now.
SALARY REQUIREMENT: Work in your life has already been paid for through the blood of My Son, Jesus. Your only responsibility is to commit initially and on a daily basis. To trust and obey what Jesus has done and wants to do in your life.
Other references available upon request.
Isn’t it a wonderful letter to remind ourselves that God loves us and walks with us because he is Good Shepherd and there is nothing we shall want.
We have the priceless treasure Jesus Christ our Saviour in whom we trust because he loves us so much that he died for us on the Cross. In the First reading Moses is addressing the congregation and inviting them to wait for the one coming after him. We reflect on the similarities (typology) between Moses and Jesus, we will be amazed. Some of the similarities are both survived from death as a child in Egypt, both lead Israelites out of slavery to promised land; one from Egyptian slavery and other from the slavery of sin etc. As a homework for all of you who are reading this reflection, write a typology between Moses and Jesus and see the amazing facts of these two great Prophets.
This Sunday’s Gospel passage presents Jesus who, with his small community of disciples, enters Capernaum, the city where Peter lived, and which was the largest city in Galilee at that time. Jesus goes to that city. I got to the chance to visit Jesus and Peter’s homes and synagogue where Jesus lived and preached. As I sat in the Chapel built upon the house of St. Peter to pray, whole scene of Jesus’s presence just ran in front of me like a film and just imagined how people are staring at Jesus and appreciating him for the work he was doing and his wonderful eloquence in preaching the Word of God.
His Holiness Pope Francis reflects on the Gospel this way “The Evangelist Mark, recounts that, since it was the Sabbath, Jesus went straight to the Synagogue and began to teach. This reminds us of the primacy of the Word of God, the Word to be listened to, the Word to be received, the Word to be proclaimed. Arriving in Capernaum, Jesus does not delay proclaiming the Gospel, does not think first about the necessary logistics of his small community, does not tarry over the organization. His primary concern is to communicate the Word of God with the power of the Holy Spirit.
As Jesus is preaching, people present in the synagogue, notice something totally different and surprising that he is “preaching with authority”. What does “with authority” mean? It means that in the human words of Jesus, the power of the Word of God could be felt, the authority of God, who is the inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures. And one of the characteristics of the Word of God is that He does what He says. For the Word of God corresponds to his will. We, on the other hand, often speak empty, shallow words, or superfluous words, words that do not coincide with the truth. Instead, the Word of God corresponds to the truth, it is united to his will and fulfils what He says. St. Jerome once said “ignorance of the Scripture is the ignorance of Christ” because Jesus is the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Indeed, Jesus, after preaching, immediately demonstrates his authority by freeing a man, in the Synagogue, who was possessed by a demon. The very divine authority of Christ provoked the reaction of Satan, hidden in that man; Jesus, in his turn, immediately recognized the voice of the evil one and “rebuked him… ‘Be silent and come out of him’”. With the power of his word alone, Jesus frees the person from the evil one. And once again those present were amazed: “He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him”. The Word of God arouses amazement in us. It has the power to astonish us. In the Letter to Hebrews, we read “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it can judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. On the other hand, Moses before dying, gave instructions to Joshua, son of Nun and reminded him “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful. I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:8-9). The Gospel is the word of life: it does not oppress people, on the contrary, it frees those who are slaves to the many evil spirits of this world: the spirit of vanity, attachment to money, pride, sensuality…. The Gospel changes the heart, changes life, transforms evil inclinations into good intentions.
The new doctrine, taught by Jesus with authority, is what the Church takes to the world, along with the effective signs of His presence: the authoritative teaching and the liberating action of the Son of God become words of salvation and gestures expressing the love of the missionary Church. Always remember that the Gospel has the power to change lives! Do not forget this. It is the Good News, which transforms us only when we allow ourselves to be transformed by it. St. Paul reminds everyone of us to allow the Word of God to dwell richly in us “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God”.
Let me conclude my reflection with the following poem by M. S. Lowndes which will remind us that when we allow Jesus to work in lives, he gives us greater gifts filled with his everlasting love and we are able to know him personally and deeply.
Who I Am In God?
I am an overcomer—because You have overcome.
I am victorious—because of Your resurrection victory.
I am Your child—because You have adopted me.
I am free from sin—because Your blood has redeemed me.
I am forgiven—because You have washed me clean.
I am healed—because of Your wounds.
I am justified—through faith in You.
I am revived—through the water of Your Word.
I am wonderfully made—because Your works are wonderful.
I am Your workmanship—designed with a purpose and destiny.
I am at peace—because I look to You, not my circumstances.
I am contented—because my satisfaction is in You.
I am a new creation—because You make all things new.
I am FREE—because Your truth sets me FREE!
St. Paul says in his Letter to Philippians 3:7-11); “Yet whatever gains I had; these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow, I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
How good do we know him?
Other Sermons In This Series
September 23, 2022
September 08, 2022
April 21, 2023