Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Points to note
While this is not a miracle of anointing the sick, we explore the role of Jesus in healing the sick. This will lead on to the reading next week where we will explore further the role the children in healing others. But for today, we focus on the calling that Jesus has to heal.
The reading has two parts: the first relates to the preaching of Jesus. But if the reading has stopped there, it would have been incomplete because Jesus followed up his words that can be argued away, with actions that cannot be argued away.
Acclamation before the Gospel
He took our sickness away,
and carried our diseases for us.
Explain that Jesus is still travelling around Galilee at the beginning of his ministry and most people still do not know his message.
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
All: Glory to you O Lord
(Mk 1: 21-28)
Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the Sabbath came Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.
In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit, and it shouted, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.” But Jesus said sharply, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. “Here is a teaching that is new,” they said, “and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.” And his reputation spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.
This is the Gospel of the Lord
Discuss the first part of the reading. Explain that Jesus was a preacher who spoke to people about God. Did people accept Jesus’ preaching? Yes, it left a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.
What is meant by ‘with authority’? It could mean that he made a lot of sense. It could mean that he was persuasive. It could mean he had great speaking skills.
Discuss what happened after he left the synagogue. Jesus commanded unclean spirits to leave a man that the spirits possessed. Which is easier – to preach with words or to heal people possessed by evil spirits?
Have you heard of the phrase ‘Action speaks louder than words’? Discuss whether this was what made people impressed with Jesus preaching? That he was able to follow up his words with actual actions, and not just leave them as mere words.
Discuss what are the evil spirits. Explain that in the olden days, people believe that diseases were caused by evil spirits. So, if someone is sick, they believed that the person was possessed by evil spirits. So, when a person is cured, the evil spirits are said to be expelled from the person. That could be one way of looking at Jesus’ actions of healing.
Today, we don’t go to have our evil spirits expelled when we are sick. We go to a doctor. However, there are still diseases that we need Jesus to help us heal. The diseases of
· hate (refusing to forgive and seeking revenge),
· greed (for material things or for praises),
· addiction (to computer games or to Facebook),
· jealousy (of someone else’s position or accomplishments)
· prejudice (against someone different from us or someone unfamiliar).
Are there any more evil spirits that could inhabit us?