To listen to the audio for today’s homily, please select the audio player below:
Our gospel reading this Sunday, like most from the last four Sundays, is from the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel. It describes a day– one day in the life of Jesus–one commentator calls it a “paradigmatic day”– a day you can see everything you need to know about Jesus.
The evangelist prepares us for this day with an account of Jesus’ baptism and temptation in the desert by Satan. At the Jordan River the heavens open and a voice says, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Immediately, Mark says, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by Satan for forty day.
This is God’s beloved Son, but he knows what it means to face evil. He came among us and faced evil.
“After John had been arrested,” Mark continues, “Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus goes into Galilee “after John has been arrested,” not the safest time to announce anything, but that doesn’t matter. God’s kingdom is stronger than the powers of this world. It wont be stopped.
Mark’s Gospel is fast paced. As Jesus passes the Sea of Galilee, he sees Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea. Jesus says to them. “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther, he sees James and John, the sons of Zebedee, getting ready to go out in their boat. He calls them and they leave their boat to follow him.
They can’t resist him, Mark’s gospel says. There’s something exciting and commanding about him. They have to follow him.
They come to Capernaum, the town where they all live. It’s the Sabbath Day. They all go into the synagogue and Jesus begins to teach. He amazes the people with his teaching. No one has taught like him before.
But then, as happens all through his life, the voice of evil is heard. A man with an unclean spirit cries out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
“Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said,
‘Quiet! Come out of him!’ The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
‘What is this? A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.’”
Of course, when those people leave the synagogue, they tell everybody they meet. Capernaum was a trading center. The news gets out quickly.
“His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.”
Next Sunday’s gospel from Mark will continue the story of this momentous day. Jesus leaves the synagogue goes into Peter and Andrew’s house in Capernaum and heals Peter’s mother in law. This same day is filled with excitement. Mark ends his account by saying that as the day ends, the whole town in at the door, anxious to hear him, with their sick and those who are disturbed.
I wish I could convey some of the excitement that this gospel wants to convey. When Jesus comes into your town he brings life. Peter and those he calls can’t resist him. They have to follow him to know more. That’s always what Jesus does. He draws us to himself; he sets our hearts on fire.
Of course, he’s always accompanied by the evil of this world. The man with the unclean spirit whom always be there too. “Stay away from us. Get away from us. We want to be left alone. Even if you are the Son of God we want to be left alone.”
“If today you hear his voice harden not your hearts.” What a tragedy that is. not to hear his voice, to harden our hearts.