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Monday, February 2, 2015

MARK'S GOSPEL: The Power and Authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ!

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea

4th  Sunday in Ordinary Time, Feb 1, 2015

Saints Peter & Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

Fr. J.P. Shea 
"Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, 'What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.'" (Mark 1:26-27)

Today’s readings call us to acknowledge the power and authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

We heard in last week’s Gospel that our Lord began his ministry. He came proclaiming the Good News, saying, "
The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15) Our Lord then chose His 12 disciples whom He would use to proclaim His message of salvation.

Today’s Gospel is the very next scene after last week’s reading. While last week’s gospel emphasized the proclamation of the kingdom of heaven, today’s passage emphasizes the initiation of Our Lord’s kingdom. 

 We are reminded that Our Lord has come to initiate His authority and power over the darkness that has and is captivating our world. In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a man with an unclean spirit. 

After choosing His disciples Our Lord goes into Capernaum where we hear that He teaches with great authority. "The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority not as the scribes." (Mark 1:22) 

In the synagogue is a man who is possessed by an unclean spirit. He 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!”And Jesus rebukes the spirit and it comes out of the man.

My brothers and sisters, today’s reading reminds us that the kingdom of God has come upon us and it has come through the power and authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ! 

Ever since the fall of humanity, our world has been under the influence of the evil one, and today’s Gospel reminds us that our Lord has come to break this power. 

Our Lord has come to conquer the powers and influence of the devil so that we can be led in the path of salvation. He has come to battle the spiritual dysfunction that is in each and every one of us -- in order to lead us into eternal life.

Each one of us has been baptized. Yet, our baptism does not free us from the influences of the evil spirits that surround us. Baptism gives us grace to be children of God, but we must accept this grace. We must continually make an effort to live out our baptismal call by renouncing sin. We must continually call upon the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Holy One of God! 

There are many bad spirits roaming around today who seek to destroy souls. Spiritual possession as we see in today’s Gospel is rare, but unclean spirits are always at work to influence us. 

Bad spirits lead us to shame, fear, stubbornness, hardness of heart, and disordered and uncontrolled sexual appetites. There are demons of pride, demons of addiction, demons of lust… you name the sin or the temptation, and you can bet there is an unclean spirit involved.

If we allow these spirits into our lives they can easily take hold of our will. One example I will give is unclean spirits associated with  pornography. When we view pornography we invite dirty spirits into our lives, and it becomes difficult to get rid of them. These filthy images and their spirits come back. They haunt us. They tempt us! And they easily take control of our souls if we do not continually and frequently call upon the name of Our Lord Jesus. 

As Our Lord rebukes the evil spirit in today’s Gospel, we too need to rebuke the evil spirits that roam our society and world! To the evils of our culture we need to say, “Get behind me satan!”

We need to strive to keep our love pure and holy because evil spirits can ruin the lives of any soul that is lukewarm. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and we need to treat them as such. If we darken our bodies on earth through immorality, how can we expect to have a holy and glorified body in heaven? 

We must persevere in prayer, go to frequent confession, and receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. These are gifts that Our Lord has given to our Church to fight against evil until Our Lord comes again!

We should have our homes blessed with holy water and put blessed salt over our doors. We  should learn the Saint Michael prayer and say it daily. The devil is afraid of this prayer! In fact, the devil hates prayer. We should pray the Rosary. The Rosary is a weapon against evil.

My brothers and sisters, our world is in a spiritual battle, and this battle is rapidly intensifying in our lifetime.

It is a battle between the spirit of God and the spirit of the evil one. The spirit of evil was born into our world through original sin. But battle has already been won through Our Lord’s death on the cross. 

Yet, the struggle is not finished. Our Lord has handed on this striving to His Church until He comes again.

Until this day, may each one of us continually call upon the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus. He alone has power and authority because he is the holy one of God. For He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.

Don't miss Lawrence Fox's post on WHO IS JESUS IN THE GOSPEL OF MARK?

Maybe you'd enjoy a poem by Susan Fox on the subject of  battling evil spirits? RED and GREEN: A Poem about Temptation

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