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4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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My friends, brothers, and sisters in the Lord
Our first reading for today's Holy Mass on this fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time in our liturgical cycle, is an excerpt from the 18th chapter of the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy. The Lord promises that He will raise up a Prophet like Moses to help His people live the Covenant He made with them and stay faithful. Many believe the reference was to the prophetic movement which clearly assisted the people of Israel in critical times. Others point to Joshua who will succeed Moses, or to Samuel.

Photo credit: Brett Jordan

Photo credit: Brett Jordan


By Deacon Keith Fournier, JD, MTS, MPhil.
1/24/2024 (5 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Ordinary Time, Covenant, Jesus, Paul, Apostle

The New Testament refers to this promise in numerous places. And, the early leaders and Fathers of the Church also see the promise as pointing to Jesus, the Messiah. For example, in John 1:21, John the Baptist is asked "Are you the Prophet". In the Acts of the Apostles, in Acts 3, Peter preaches in Solomons Portico and quotes this passage from Deuteronomy "Moses said, â€~The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you" Acts 3:22. And again in chapter 7 of Acts, the Deacon Stephen, the first Martyr, also quotes this scripture and points to its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

As Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, we know that all the promises the Lord made to Israel are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fullness of God's loving plan for all people. And Jesus is the fullness of God's plan for you and me. Do we believe this? The Lord has spoken the fullness of His Plan for all men and women in the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. He is the way to the Father. He is the Truth. He saves us from death, frees us from the penalty of sin, and makes us new creations.

In our second reading, we heard another portion of the Apostle Paul's instructions to the Corinthians. As we have seen before, much of what Paul had to deal with in both of his letters to this early community arose out of false teaching which had sadly been given to the Corinthians by some errant leaders. It led to all kinds of problems, including sexual immorality, and confusion about Christian marriage and consecrated celibacy for the Kingdom of God.

In this passage, the Apostle offers some practical insights. It is important to understand that these few verses come at the end of chapter seven. The entirety of chapter seven is an instruction living the life the Lord has given to you, in your own state in life. If you are married, to be married, in the Lord. In other words, ensure that Jesus Christ is the center of the marital relationship, by practicing marital chastity and fidelity to your spouse and welcoming the children intended to be the fruit of married love. If you are single, by staying chaste and faithful.

But Paul is also affirming the beautiful call of consecrated celibacy for the sake of the kingdom. After all, he remained celibate for the kingdom. The practice of consecrated celibacy goes all the way back to the teaching of Jesus Christ. Whatever our state in life, or vocation, or career, Jesus Christ must be the Lord of our daily lives, not just a weekend interest. To be a Christian is to live a new way of life.  How are we doing?

In the Gospel text for today's Holy Mass, we heard a portion of the first chapter of the Gospel account of St. Mark. Mark's Gospel begins with John the Baptizer baptizing Jesus, followed by His temptation in the desert, the call of the first disciples and His public ministry.  St. Mark emphasizes that through the ministry of Jesus, the Kingdom of God breaks through with signs and wonders, including the defeat of the Devil and His stronghold in the lives of many. The promised Messiah has come. The One who has authority even over the evil spirits.

In this short passage, Jesus begins to teach in the synagogue at Capernaum and the people recognize His Authority. Then, they witness one of the signs which the prophecies of the coming Messiah predicted, the casting out of evil spirits.

Evil is real. And there really is a devil. He is the enemy of the Lord, and, therefore, he is our enemy as well. Jesus Christ is the only way Satan can be defeated, in the world, in the Church, and in our own personal lives. JESUS has been raised from the dead and continues His ministry now, through His mystical Body, the Church.

We are engaged in a spiritual war for the souls of men and women in this urgent hour. And we face very real personal opposition from the devil in our own lives - and all around us. We must always remember that the struggle we face, even though it works itself out on so many different fronts, is, at root, a spiritual one. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus:

"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood; but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Eph. 6:12,13)

He also wrote these words to the Christians in Corinth: "For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds. (2 Cor. 10:4,5) Do we believe this? It is a part of the deposit of faith, and we should.

Have a wonderful Lord's Day, 
Deacon Keith Fournier, JD, MTS, MPhil
Dean of Catholic Online School

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