English Español Mary Immaculate
Catholic Church / Pacoima, CA

Prophets in Daily Life

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” Mark 1:22

Jesus Preaching in the Synagogue

Uniquely in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’ public eye ministry begins with a direct confrontation with an unclean spirit. Today’s Gospel passage reflects a recurring theme in Mark, that Jesus’ coming is part of a cosmic battle between God and evil forces. It was commonly believed that many spirits were present in the world, and some sought to control human beings. Mark asserts that in Jesus, God has come to rescue humanity, to free us from every form of bondage.

In today’s passage, the unclean spirit does not surrender power quietly. After complaints, convulsions, and screams, the spirit finally departs. As we may witness in own experience, that which binds us—fear, injustice, resentment—often departs only after a mighty struggle. Confronting anything “unclean” in our hearts, our institutions, or our society often involves a long journey toward freedom. May we sustain our efforts and our trust in God, during these long struggles.

Moses assures Israel of God’s continued presence by promising a new prophet. Like Moses, the prophet will be raised up directly by God. But how to distinguish a true prophet from a false one? Many claim to speak for God. The task is complicated by the fact that often, true prophets make waves, cause trouble, and disturb how things are normally done. Many simply don’t want to hear what God is saying, because it threatens their privilege, comfort, or sense of identity.

Like the Israelites in today’s reading, it can be hard for us to bear the voice of God. For God calls us out of all the ways we avoid opening our hearts to God and to others. And so, God raises up surprise prophets in daily life. These are all the people and events who summon us to fuller maturity in love and in faith. We are called upon to always be ready for the prophetic word that may emerge from God’s surprises.

Readings of the Week

Monday: Heb 11:32-40; Ps 31:20-24; Mk 5:1-20
Tuesday: Mal 3:1-4; Ps 24:7-10; Heb 2:14-18; Lk 2:22-40 [22-32]
Wednesday: Heb 12:4-7, 11-15; Ps 103:1-2, 13-14, 17-18a; Mk 6:1-6
Thursday: Heb 12:18-19, 21-24; Ps 48:2-4, 9-11; Mk 6:7-13
Friday: Heb 13:1-8; Ps 27:1, 3, 5, 8b-9; Mk 6:14-29
Saturday: Heb 13:15-17, 20-21; Ps 23:1-6; Mk 6:30-34
Sunday: Jb 7:1-4, 6-7; Ps 147:1-6; 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23; Mk 1:29-39

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Catholic Schools Week
Tuesday: The Presentation of the Lord; Blessing of Candles; Groundhog Day
Wednesday: St. Blaise; St. Ansgar; Blessing of Throats;
Friday: St. Agatha; First Friday
Saturday: St. Paul Miki and companions; First Saturday