4th Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 31, 2021

4B21.   Deuteronomy 18:15-20.    God had spoken to his People through Moses.  Moses prophesied that another prophet or prophets would come to God’s People to tell them what God wants them to hear.  A prophet is given authority by God to be the spokesperson of God who himself is the source of all authority.  Authority must be listened to and obeyed or else the disobedient one will be punished.  Even worse, God will kill anyone who claims to be a prophet but is not.  God had given the Hebrews the Law or Torah and the prophets.  The God of the Old Testament was never far from his People.  Even more, the God of the New Testament lives both within us individually and as a community, the Church.  God makes his life-giving presence felt in each way.

Mark 1:21-28.  This Sunday’s Gospel says, “The people were astonished at his (Jesus’) teaching, for he taught them as on having authority and not as one of the scribes (who drew their authority from the Scriptures).”  The divine authority rested in the person of Jesus.  Out of that authority divinely invested in himself he spoke.   The unclean spirit or demon recognized that authority invested in Jesus when he said, “I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”   Our reading continues later, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”  The Gospel from the past Sunday’s Baptism of the Lord (Mark 1:11) reads, “And a voice came down from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” Jesus’ authority is divine.  Listen & obey him or else!

1 Corinthians 7:32-35.  Paul is not telling the Corinthians to be unmarried but he does point out that our ultimate goal is to please the Lord.   To please the Lord is to respond positively to our calling or vocation and not to do whatever we feel like doing.  The calling to the priesthood or consecrated life (religious sister or brother) allows one to have a greater freedom to focus in on pleasing the Lord in that there should be fewer worldly distractions.  When we meet the Lord on Judgment Day, our past life will be read out to us.  That is our judgment.  Whom did we choose to please: God or whatever or whomever else and to what degree for each one?