January 28th 2018

Contents:

  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family and Sacred Heart
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection

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This Sunday's Readings

First Reading                           Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Moses said to the people: 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen. This is what you yourselves asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the Assembly. "Do not let me hear again" you said "the voice of the Lord my God, nor look any longer on this great fire, or I shall die"; and the Lord said to me, "All they have spoken is well said. I will raise up a prophet like yourself for them from their own brothers; I will put my words into his mouth and he shall tell them all I command him. The man who does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name, shall be held answerable to me for it. But the prophet who presumes to say in my name a thing I have not commanded him to say, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die."'




Second Reading                         I Corinthians 7:32-35

I would like to see you free from all worry. An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord's affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world's affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord's affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world's affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband. I say this only to help you, not to put a halter round your necks, but simply to make sure that everything is as it should be, and that you give your undivided attention to the Lord.




Gospel Reading                            Mark 1:21-28

Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.

In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, 'What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.' But Jesus said sharply, 'Be quiet! Come out of him!' And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. 'Here is a teaching that is new' they said 'and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.' And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.


Sunday Reflection 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (28.01.18)

Authenticity

All interaction between people involves a search for authenticity, implicitly if not explicitly. We prefer to associate with people with whom we have authentic interaction. We distance ourselves, when we can, from those who disturb us by their lack of authenticity, shallowness and even lies. In our communications with others we search for the virtues we aspire to.

In all interaction, words are probably the most frequently scrutinised. Audible words from physically speakers are the most revealing. An audience scrutinises a speaker's tone of voice, body-language, eye-contact etc. to help determine the authenticity of their message. But there is more. St. Jerome, a revered scholar of Scripture, expresses it this way:
"It is more than the air vibrating with the human voice that reaches the ears of a believing audience. It is God, speaking within a prophet's soul, who communicates with the soul of each listening believer." (Commentary on Isaiah)

More than 1,500 yrs. before the Birth of The Messiah, the Jews heard Moses reveal God's message. They had to choose whether or not to believe Moses, not only in the moment, but for the remainder of their lives.

The Scripture extracts for this 4th Sunday - Deuteronomy (18:15-20); St. Paul's 1st Letter to the Corinthians (7:32-35) and St. Mark's Gospel (1:21-28) - touch on distinctive aspects of authenticity.

God inspires Moses with a message for the Jews of coming generations - this Sunday's 1st Reading (Deuteronomy 18:15-20) -
"A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen."
The Jews honour Moses as the most important prophet in Judaism until, as Christians believe, God raised up his only-begotten Son, Jesus of Nazareth, who brought to completion God's prophecies. St. Jerome (347-420 AD) gives 1592 BC as the date for Moses' birth. So, the proof of the authenticity of Moses' prophetical words only became clear for Christians 1,500 years after Moses had spoken! The Jewish people, who do not believe in the Divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth, are still awaiting the appearance of their Messiah defined by Moses as:
"A prophet like me will the Lord, your God,
raise up for you…"
Our measurement of time differs from that of God as St. Peter, in his 2nd Letter, reminds us:
"But, do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."

For Judaism, the Messianic era has yet to begin. For Christians, it is already more than 2000 years old. When we pray for our Jewish brothers and sisters - who are the elder branch of God's chosen family - we are praying that they will come to believe in the authenticity of one of their own, Jesus the Christ, as their Messiah.

St. Paul (2nd Reading), in his first letter to his Philippian converts to Christianity, is promoting a call that is even more demanding than the marital mutual love between humans namely, our love for God. If we have the mindset of Christ, together with the grace of the Holy Spirit, then, whether we are married or unmarried, we will reflect the self-sacrificing love Jesus showed us in his life on earth.
St. Paul amplified this point in an earlier section of his Philippian letter (2:1-8)
"In your minds, you must be the same as Christ Jesus:
His state was Divine
yet he did not cling to his equality with God
but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave,
and became as all human beings are.
He was humbler yet even to accepting death,
death on a cross."

What the heart treasures the mind seeks to implement. Jesus translated into action the love he bore for us in his heart by willingly going to Calvary. As many of the Baptised know from personal experience there are innumerable forms of crucifixion, with a small 'c' and not entailing wood and nails, to which we are called in the course of our lifelong Baptismal journey. When our visible lives mirror the words we speak in the Creed then we can authentically call ourselves Christians.

Jesus, in the extract from Mark's Gospel (1:21-28) for this 4th Sunday, is back in Capernaum where he was known. Mark tells us he went to the synagogue on the sabbath and taught there:
"The people were amazed at his teaching
because Jesus taught them as one who had authority,
not like the Scribes, the teachers of the law."

For those not familiar with the local Jewish synagogue of Jesus' day it is worth noting that the synagogue was first and foremost a place of teaching. The role of local synagogues was considerable because Mosaic law states that wherever there are ten Jewish families there must be a synagogue.

A synagogue Ruler was empowered to invite any competent person to give the address on what had been read from God's Word. This enabled Jesus to open his ministry in local synagogues because he became known as a man with a message.

Jesus's teaching differed from that of the Scribes. When Jesus spoke, he did so with a personal authority "But I say …." By contrast, no Scribe would take personal responsibility for what he said. For the ordinary Jew, Jesus when he spoke, was like a breeze from heaven. There was the credible finality of his voice, the voice of God. God-fearing Jews discerned the authenticity of Jesus' words which he backed up with deeds, as we hear in Mark's Gospel for this Sunday.

At his baptism by John in the River Jordan, Jesus, and those near, had heard the endorsement of his heavenly Father -
"As soon as Jesus was baptized, He came up out of the water. Suddenly the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on Him. And a voice from heaven said: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:17)
At our Baptism, too, the endorsement of our heavenly Father would have been discernible for those with 'ears to hear' through a graced soul and 'eyes to see' through a believing heart because, as Jesus has said:
"I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:6)

And we are all born as sinners into a world of sin! It is good to thank God daily for the gift of Baptism. In addition, we should ask ourselves, as we review our day, if our communication and behaviour has been an authentic response to that gift.