posted on February 03, 2015 14:08
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
Reading II 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Gospel Mark 1:21-28
Quiet. Come out of each one here. The question for each one of us to ask is: What is my unclean spirit? What’s your unclean spirit? It’s not our common language. And so we have to take this into this century, and Jesus is saying to all of us, “Whatever it is holding you back from living your life to the fullest — just let it go. Just let it come out.”
When we do that it is the most freeing experience of a lifetime and we don’t do it just once, things pop into our life from time to time. But what are some of those unclean experiences in 2015?
One would be fear. I’m afraid to die. I’m afraid I might lose my job. I don’t know why one of my friends isn’t talking to me. I don’t want to be left alone.
Another unclean spirit is the feeling of not being loved. What is that like? Has anyone has ever said to you, “I just love you for who you are. You’re just a fantastic person. I am so proud of you the way you played soccer yesterday, or played football, or when I went to your recital, or when you got that B on your report card and I know how hard you tried. I just want you to know — I love you.”
There are so many people — adults and children — who never hear those words. And if they don’t, you and I know the rest of the story. That child or adult can think, “If I have to go through the rest of my life feeling that no one really cares — and yet I am supposed to think that this God is so wonderful!”
It gives us pause to think for a moment, when Jesus says “to come out” — whether we really want to let go. “Well, if nobody loves me then I can complain about it and I don’t have to love them back. And I don’t have to do anything back.” That’s a miserable life. Because when you love and you return the love, then everything in life comes alive. And it’s wonderful to be alive.
Did you notice in the Gospel, it said Jesus was talking to the people and then all of a sudden, he turns to this man who is yelling at him. The crowd never picked up on the fact that while Jesus was talking about the Kingdom — they said nothing. If you are in a car and you are driving and you’re talking about all sorts of stuff and you’re looking at the scenery, you’re listening to music, and you’re doing everything and all of a sudden there’s a crash and you are thrown out of the car.
People don’t ask, “What was he talking about?” They move right into the moment and know that you are hurt, you need help, and say, “We’re going to get you help and we are going to bring you back to life.” Jesus took that moment to let us know that what is more important than always listening to someone talk — is to capture the moment with love.
Also, if you notice, the man turned and said, “Jesus, you’re the holy one of Israel.” I don’t know how many times I’ve met people who said, “I just don’t believe in God.” I say, “Then before we go any further, can we have a discussion — could you tell me your description of this God that you don’t want to believe in. You cannot believe in something unless you know what it is. So what you are saying is, ‘I really do believe in God. I know there is a God. I’m just not in the mood to follow that God.’ ”
“OK. Now we can talk.”
So this morning Jesus is asking us, “What’s the thing in your life that takes you away from prayer? What’s the something in your life that takes you away from the gift of hospitality? What’s going on in your life that is so important that you can’t make time to grow in your faith? To sit quietly and pray, or to read the Scripture, or join a Scripture study? What’s the something in your life that is holding you back from doing something for your neighbor?
None of us here can excuse ourselves because we are all in this together. And we know from time to time that things do distract us. Just like I was telling the children, and God is saying to us today, “Focus on what is really important in your life, and the most important thing is that you know that I am in your life, and I love you, and I can never stop loving you. So I just want to know, ‘Are you willing to grow and come a little bit closer to me? I promise, if you do, you will see and understand the change of the man in the Gospel.’ ”
Because when that man called out and recognized who Jesus was, the red light, the yellow light, the green light, the blue light — everything went on in Jesus and he knew, “This man’s got it.” Jesus turned right to him and said, “Come out. I know, since you know who I am, you are going to be willing to give your life to follow me.”
It’s not just for today — it’s for everyday of our life. We become lax and so we need to hear those words ever so often. “Quiet. Come out.”
And all of a sudden, something changes.
Today, as we baptize Madison Elizabeth, that’s part of the baptism. Everything is taken away. There’s not a single obstacle in her life. But as she grows up, she will be like the rest of us. “I know who Jesus is. And I love Jesus, and I will follow Jesus.”
That’s what we celebrate today.
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.