January 31: 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Readings: 1. Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm: 95; 2. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Gospel: Mark 1:21-28.
Anyone hearing or reading these Scripture texts surely notices the pattern of repetition in each. And in so doing, we quickly realise how the inspired Word of God works to gradually shed light on the faith we profess.
Of special note in Deuteronomy is the role of the Lord’s prophet. It is here that a true prophet is defined. That person is someone who speaks God’s words with fidelity and self-assurance. Anything less than that makes light of the real worth of our God’s commands. To value a divinely-appointed prophet’s vocation is to recognise a vital channel through which there comes insight for faith
The instructions Paul provides for the Corinthians are another means by which God’s words are transmitted to us. Giving voice to certain necessary directives, Paul ensures that the church at Corinth has the right focus. Because of what Christ has achieved, every believer must live confident in the knowledge that the goal ahead is an eternal one. Therefore, freed from any anxiety whatsoever, everyone should calmly prepare themselves, relying upon faith in the supreme good prepared for all believers.
The focus of Mark’s synagogue scene is Jesus the great teacher and wonder-worker. Recognised in the text as Jesus of Nazareth and the Holy One of God, Mark’s words help to develop a deeper appreciation for this Jesus, whose authority and power are cause for believing in him. Simply speaking, Mark’s narrative makes us become more attentive to the way Jesus is described. This is especially so as he enters the synagogue, and then encounters the man possessed of an unclean spirit.
In light of what Deuteronomy, 1 Corinthians and Mark say this Sunday, we can see clearly that God’s words / teaching serve to instruct and strengthen us on the path towards our eternal reward.