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A Time for Order
Tuesday of the First Week of Ordinary Time
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, grant me the grace to response to your healing touch, your Word, and your presence, and so give you glory.
- The Pharisees Response to Jesus’s Healing on the Sabbath: The Pharisees continually complained about Jesus healing on the Sabbath, as it was a day of rest. Their emphasis on the absolute living of the law blindsided them to the purpose of the command–to maintain right worship of God. The Sabbath reminds us to keep God in the center of all of our human activities. It reflects the culmination of creation when God rested–when all was subject to him. Saint Paul understood this, saying, “He has put all things in subjugation under his feet. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:27-28). Jesus’s healings on the Sabbath were precisely a subjection of all things to the Father.
- The Listeners’ Response to Jesus’s Teaching “As One Having Authority”: Jesus’s teachings caused a stir. Bystanders who felt the irritation of Christ’s message resisted. They couldn’t stand to let go of their own perceived control and listen to someone who spoke with authority, especially when what he was saying required a change of life. On the contrary, those who listened with open hearts were impacted by God’s Word. Saint Paul, who did not know Jesus in the flesh, had first hand experience of the impact of God’s Word. “The word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). Pope Benedict exhorts us in Spe Salvi to be open to the Gospel, as it is beyond informative. It is performative. It has the power to change our lives, open us to new horizons of hope. Jesus offers us hope of a new life when we encounter him in Word and sacrament.
- The Demons’ Response to Jesus’s Holiness: Isn’t it ironic that we are quick to deny truth when it creates discomfort, yet the demons themselves will call it by name? This Gospel invites us to a deeper examination of conscience, to recognize any resistance to the Holy Spirit, to put things in the right order, to resist the temptations of pride that causes us to refuse to relinquish our power. We bow our heads in humility before the presence of God.
Conversing with Christ: Come Holy Spirit, illumine my mind to see what I must see and respond to you in true humility and right worship.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will be attentive to the dispositions of my heart and allow Christ to be in the center of my decisions and actions.
For Further Reflection: Spe Salve #2, 3: “Faith Is Hope.”
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala, https://rcspirituality.org/book/mary-magdalene-insights-from-ancient-magdala/.