Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Commentary for the 4th Week of Ordinary Time by Sr. Jennifer Mechtild Horner, OSB

It is the Sabbath and Jesus, arriving in Capernaum, enters the synagogue to worship and teach. The people are deeply impressed, because unlike the scribes, Jesus teaches with authority. It is not long before Jesus is confronted by an unclean spirit, a demon. The demon speaks through the man to confront Jesus. The demon not only questions Jesus – “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? But also identifies him – “I know who you are, the Holy One of God”. Jesus rebukes the demon and it is expelled from the man. The people are amazed because they recognize his uniqueness. At that point, Jesus’ ministry becomes public and the object of speculation and testing that would persist to his death.

We can take many insights from this rich Gospel text but let us look at two of them. The opening verse indicates the primacy of Sabbath practice. According to this text, the synagogue on the Sabbath is the place where Jesus reveals his radical new teaching and his authority from God. This should remind us of the primacy and efficacy of worship and other Sabbath practice for us as those who seek to know and follow Jesus.

In this Gospel Jesus demonstrates power over the demon and through this power expels the demon. As we reflect on our own lives, we become aware of the demons in our own lives that that bind us and stop us living the abundant life of freedom offered to us in Christ. We have to continually choose to ask Christ for healing trusting that Christ has power over all. Benedict teaches that we are to dash these demons against Christ. To turn over all of who we are to Christ so that we might be transformed into who Christ calls us to be. It is through our monastic profession that this transformation can take place as Christ shapes us through conversatio, obedience and stability. It is through the faithful living of our monastic life that we place all we are and all we hope to be under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh among us.

Let us take a moment now to reflect on our lives. What do we need to give over to Christ so that we can be transformed through life with him? As we enter into our Sabbath time, let us offer all we are to God so that we might be changed and live an abundant life in God’s love.

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