Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Imagine what the scene would have been like 2,000 years ago when Jesus preached at the synagogue in Capernaum. Right before their eyes, demons were being cast out, convulsing and shrieking as they left. We can imagine how shaken up and amazed they would have been. What if such a thing were to happen in the middle of Sunday Mass? It would either make us want to come back next week to see what else would happen or make us so afraid that we would never want to come back again.
By such a display of power at the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus is demonstrating that, with the Kingdom of God now among us, the reign of Satan has come to an end. As Son of God, He will undo all the evil that the devil has wrought in the world. By forgiving sinners who come to Him, He will show His power over sin. By healing the lame, the blind, and the deaf, He will show His power over illness. By raising the dead, He will show His power over death. However, His greatest triumph over the devil will come when He shows total obedience to the Father’s plan, embraces the cross, and rises on the third day.
The state of today’s world can make it difficult for us to keep our hope alive. With religious practice in decline, we can start to believe that we are losing the battle. No matter how bleak the world’s situation may appear, we have to always remind ourselves that God has already won the victory in Christ. Though sexual abuse is an ongoing problem and the needs of the poor are continually overlooked, we must remember that nothing happens unless our Heavenly Father permits it. He is working quietly in the hearts of all people — believers and unbelievers alike — to shine the light of His Truth.
Not only can we feel discouraged when we see the condition our world is in but also what condition WE arein. We are all sinners, struggling with our own inner demons. Because of our failures, we can judge ourselves to be utter hypocrites, and guilt can begin to take hold of us. Here again we need to remind ourselves that Jesus has already won the victory over our personal sin and has conquered our sinful human nature.
God sees the world in a much different way than we do. What looks like failures to us are successes to God. We see this clearly in the cross which seemed at the moment to be the ultimate triumph of sin and death but, instead, ushered in these two millennia of grace. We must take heart then and never give up.
No matter what challenges we are facing, we need never lose hope and need never be afraid. God is in total control. His power is hidden now, known only to those who have faith, but it will one day be made manifest when Christ comes again. So we continue to struggle, and sometimes fail, but we hold on to a lively hope that we will one day know the full freedom of the sons and daughters of God.
Douglas Sousa, S.T.L.