Celebrate Sunday Mass - 1.31.21

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1/31/2021 (3 months ago)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

January 31, 2021 -- The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...

I AM HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU AN INVITATION TO SUNDAY MASS ON THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME in the Catholic Diocese of Tyler. The response to offering these beautiful liturgies has been overwhelming. The readings, as always, offer so much for us to reflect on. It is helpful to pray through them and reflect upon them before we assist at Holy Mass.

In the first reading 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 even others to Samuel. 

But, in the New Testament, this promise that the Lord will send a prophet like Moses is said to refer 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 Solomon's Portico and quotes this passage from Deuteronomy, "Moses said, '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 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. He is also the fullness of Gods loving plan for you and for 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 all the lies and errors of the age. He is the Life. He saves us from death, frees us from the penalty of sin, and makes us new creations. 

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

In this passage, the Apostle is offering some practical insights. It is important to understand that these few verses come at the end of chapter seven. Once again, context is important. The entirety of chapter seven is an instruction on living the life the Lord has given to you, in your state in life. If you are married, you should live your marriage in the Lord. In other words, put Jesus Christ at the center of the entire marital relationship. That includes fidelity to your spouse, marital chastity, and openness to new life, welcoming the children who are 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. Forsaking one spouse to be available to the Lord and the whole Church. The practice of consecrated celibacy goes all the way back to the teaching of Jesus Christ. Whatever our state in life, job, or particular vocation, 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 hear another portion of the first chapter of the Gospel account of St Mark. Marks Gospel begins with John the Baptizer, the Baptism of Jesus, His temptation in the desert. the call of the first disciples and then 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 Gospel 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. 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 He can be defeated - in the world, in the Church, and in our own personal lives. JESUS has been raised from the dead. He 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. We are disciples of the Risen Jesus sent into the world today. 

May the Lord bless you, your families, the Church, and the Nations of the world on this Lord's Day.   

Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School
Chaplain of Your Catholic Voice Foundation

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