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Scripture Study: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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By Marc Massery (Jan 26, 2018)
Sunday, Jan. 28 — Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Dt 18:15-20
• Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9
• Cor 7:32-35
• Mk 1:21-28


A priest does not have to worry about what he's going to wear tomorrow. Black slacks, a black shirt, and a white collar remain the standard. By appearances alone, this simple ensemble proclaims to everyone that priests are dead to the world and alive in Christ. And that strikes fear into the hearts of Satan and his minions.

In the first reading from 1 Corinthians, St. Paul speaks about those who make the radical sacrifice of celibacy. He compares men and women who marry to those who remain celibate for the sake of serving the Lord. "An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided" (1 Cor 7:32-34). Referencing this Scripture passage from 1 Corinthians, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "Called to consecrate themselves with undivided hearts to the Lord and to 'the affairs of the Lord,' [ordained ministers] give themselves entirely to God and to men. Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church's minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God" (1579).

Those who choose celibacy give themselves to Christ undivided in the most radical way. As a Catholic community, we need men and women who remain celibate for the sake of Christ and the Church. Those consecrated to Christ in this way give us the Sacraments, pray for us, educate us, and remind us that the true Christian life involves complete dedication to God. As lay faithful, we must encourage the next generation to be open to the call. We should pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and pray that those vowed to celibacy remain faithful.

In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, Christ exemplifies the role of a minister, teaching the people and driving out evil from the world.

He enters Capernaum after having just preached that "the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mk 1:15). The Gospel says that He goes into the synagogue on the Sabbath to teach. "The people were astonished at his teaching for he taught as one having authority, not as the Scribes" (Mk 1:22). The Scribes, the teachers of the law, constantly referred to the legal authorities of the past when they spoke. But Jesus spoke in His own voice with the authority of God and had a powerful impact on the people.

Jesus' presence and teaching cause a disturbance in the demonic realm. The Gospel says, "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?" (Mk 1: 23-24). As Christ begins His public ministry, satan and his minions realize that the time of God has come, and the time of evil is beginning to pass away.

The demon says to Jesus, "I know who you are — the Holy One of God!" (Mk 1: 23-24). Out of a sense of fear, not faith, this demon recognizes the presence of Christ. Jesus demonstrates His power, and with just a few words He promptly exorcizes the demon. The people are amazed at the sight, having never seen someone with such a command over unclean spirits.

As a liturgical and sacramental icon of Christ, priests terrify demons. Like Christ, priests and religious speak with authority about the Gospel. Their presence, their teaching, and even the way they dress shine forth as an example to remind us how to live a life apart from evil, apart from the ways of Satan.

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Christy - Jan 28, 2018

Thomas, the word, “celibate,” was coined in the 17th century as a fancy word for “unmarried.” If your Bible has 1Corinthians, it has the word translated as “unmarried, “ and thus the word that could just as accurately been translated “celibate.” The English language has many words to mean the same things.

Thomas - Jan 26, 2018

I have looked, although I admit not as diligent as I could, to find a quote containing celibacy in the bible.