Gospel Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
From reading the gospels, we know that Jesus was great speaker and wonderful storyteller. So good at this was he, that Peter even once said, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life.’ Jesus always knew his audience and to whom he was speaking. He spoke about seeds being sowed, he talked about sheep and shepherds, wine and vineyards and he even spoke about a woman baking bread! Perhaps that is why in this Sunday’s gospel we read that ‘his teaching made a great impression on them, unlike the scribes, (because) he taught them with authority.’ What Jesus offered the people then and us today is Good News, not fake news!
But it is not only what Jesus says that makes an impact on the people, it also what he does. In the gospel this Sunday, Jesus heals a man who is sick. At the time of Jesus, to be sick was seen as punishment by God because the person was a sinner. When Jesus heals the man, the gathered people were even more amazed at what he did rather than just what he said. If this Jesus can heal a man and forgive him his sins, then who is he? They have heard him speak with authority and they have seen him heal a man who was sick. Their response to experiencing Jesus is ‘What is this? A new teaching – with authority!
As we continue through these early days and weeks of this New Year, it seems appropriate that Jesus offers us something that is radically new. Even though we have just put all the shopping and buying of Christmas behind us, the shops are still trying to get us to spend money with their bargains, sales and reductions. However, as always Jesus, through the gospels offers us an alternative message; a message that is new. What is this ‘new’ message that Jesus offers us? At this time of the year, we might be making New Year resolutions. I will eat and drink less or I will exercise more! However, my New Year challenges might be more personal; I might try to be nicer to my friends and family. I might try to be more peaceful and forgiving to those in my family or I might try to do something concrete to help those who are poor in my community, parish or neighbourhood.
As I begin this New Year and try to change some of my less than positive habits, am I asking God to help me or am I trying to do this all by myself? There is the story that tells of a man praying at the start of the New Year. He is worried, afraid and anxious about the year ahead. He prays to God saying, ‘Lord, give me a light so that I may walk into the New Year without being afraid.’ There was silence. Then God spoke and said, ‘No, I will not give you a light. Instead, you take my hand and we will walk into the New Year together.’
May we continue to walk into this New Year with God by our side.
- Michael Moore OMI