This Sunday's Gospel

Exegetical notes and homily themes to get you started this weekend:

12/3/2023 – Advent 1
12/10/2023 – Advent 2
12/17/2023 – Advent 3
12/24/2023 – Advent 4

12/25/2023 – Christmas
12/31/2023 – Holy Family  

1/1/2024 – Mary the Mother of God
1/7/2024 – Epiphany

1/14/2024 – Sunday 2
1/14/2024 – Epiphany 2
1/21/2024 – Sunday 3/Epiphany 3
1/28/2018 – Sunday 4/Epiphany 4

December 3 – First Sunday of Advent [B]

“Be watchful!  Be alert!  You do not know when the time will come.”
Mark 13: 33-37


The beginning of the Christian year begins at the end of time: the promised return of Christ at the end of time.  In this brief Gospel parable of the master’s return, Jesus articulates the Advent themes of waiting, watchfulness and readiness.  Jesus calls us to realize our responsibilities in the present as we dare to look forward to the promise of the future.


Advent is a call to pay attention: to pay attention to the voice of God, the hand of God, the love of God in every joy and sorrow, in every pain and trauma, in every victory and setback before us.  Jesus urges us to “watch” this Advent, to be “alert” to the signs God’s presence in every moment of our lives. 

The coming of Christ and his presence among us – as one of us – give us reason to live in hope: that light will shatter the darkness, that we can be liberated from our fears and prejudices, that we are never alone or abandoned by our merciful Father in heaven.

Advent confronts us with the preciousness and limits of time: that our lives are an Advent, a prelude, to the life of God to come.  While confronting us with the reality that our lives and finite and fragile, these Sundays of Advent also assure us of the mercy of God, who is with us amid all the struggles and challenges of our everyday Advent journey to the dwelling place of God.  

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December 10 – Second Sunday of Advent [B]

John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins.
Mark 1: 1-8


John’s brief appearance in Mark’s Gospel begins a new era in the history of salvation.  Mark’s details about John’s appearance recall the austere dress of the great prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1: 8).  The Jews believed that Elijah would return from heaven to announce the long-awaited restoration of Israel as God’s kingdom.  For Mark and the synoptics, this expectation is fulfilled in John the Baptizer.  In the Baptizer’s proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah, the age of the prophets is fulfilled and the age of the Messiah begins.  John’s baptism with water is an act of hope and expectation in the Messiah's baptism in the very Spirit and life of God.


Each one of us is called to be a prophet of Christ.  The word prophet comes from the Greek word meaning “one who proclaims.”  Not all prophets wear camel skins and eat locusts – there are prophets among us right now who proclaim in their ministries, in their compassion and their kindness, in their courageous commitment to what is right that Jesus the Messiah has come.

To be a prophet of God’s justice begins with embracing God’s vision of what the world can and should become and then giving oneself totally and unreservedly to realizing that vision.  In the baptismal call to become prophets of the God who comes, we are sent to do the work of transforming the wastelands around us into harvests of justice and forgiveness, to create highways for our God to enter and re-create our world in charity and peace.

As an “Advent people,” we are caught (like the Israelites returning to Jerusalem – Reading 1) between a world that is dying and, at the same time, a world waiting to be reborn.  The work of Advent is to bring about that rebirth: to prepare a world that is ready for the Lord's coming.

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December 17 – Third Sunday of Advent [B]

[John] came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might belief through him.
John 1: 6-8, 19-28


God has revealed himself to his people through the incarnation of his Word, Jesus the Christ.  In today’s Gospel, John the Baptizer points to this revelation as standing “among you whom you do not recognize.” 

Forms of “baptism” were common in the Judaism of Gospel times – in some Jewish communities, it was through baptism rather than circumcision that a Gentile became a Jew.  But John’s baptism was distinctive:  His baptism at the Jordan was a rite of repentance and metanoia, a conversion of heart and spirit.  The Baptizer’s ministry fulfilled the promise of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 36: 25-26): that, at the dawn of a new age, the God of Israel would purify his people from their sins with clear water and instill in them a new heart and spirit.


Light is the central image of today’s Gospel:  John proclaims the coming of the Messiah as the light who will shatter the darkness that envelops our world, the light who illuminates our vision with compassion and justice. 

The coming of Christ calls us to the work of making a “straight road” for him, of transforming the barren deserts around us into harvests of justice and peace, of reflecting the light of his forgiveness and mercy in our midst.  We are all called to this kind of “prophetic” work begun by John at the Jordan River: to use whatever skills and resources we possess to bring hope into prisons of despair, joy into deserts of sadness, love into broken hearts and spirits of stone.    

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December 24 – Fourth Sunday of Advent [B]

“Hail, full of grace!  The Lord is with you . . . Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you shall conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”
Luke 1: 26-38


Today’s Gospel on this Sunday before Christmas is Luke’s account of the angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary.  The Annunciation story is filled with First Testament imagery (e.g., the announcement by the angel parallels the announcements of the births of many key figures in salvation history, such as Isaac and Samuel; the “overshadowing” of Mary recalls the cloud of glory covering the tent of the ark and temple in Jerusalem).  Mary’s yes to Gabriel’s words set the stage for the greatest event in human history: God’s becoming human.


In today’s Gospel, God sets into motion the “Christ event” with Mary, a simple Jewish girl who is at the very bottom of her people’s social ladder; the God who created all things makes the fulfillment of his promise dependent upon one of the most dispossessed and powerless of his creatures.  Yet God exalts her humility, her simplicity, her trust in his love and mercy.  God’s “favor” belongs the poor, the rejected, the abandoned and the forgotten among us today. 

In his becoming human in the Son of Mary, God enters human history is show us how to live God-like, grace-filled, holy lives of compassion, forgiveness and justice in our time and place in that history.

The mystery of the Incarnation is relived every time we echo Mary’s “yes” to God’s call to bring his Christ into our world, when we accept, as did Mary, God’s asking us to make the Gospel Jesus alive in our own time and place.

In the Advents of our lives, God calls us to bring his Christ into our own time and place; may we respond with the faith and trust of Mary, putting aside our own doubts and fears to say I am your servant, O God.  Be it done.  

Mary’s life is pretty much laid out before her by her family and culture — simple, hidden and uncomplicated.  But God interrupts her pre-ordered life, entrusting her with bringing his Christ to birth.  God interrupts our own well-ordered and focused lives, as well, to bring his Word and Light to birth in our hearts and homes; God’s messenger Gabriel appears to us in the needs of our children, the struggles of family and friends, the cries of the poor, the despair of the lost and marginalized.    

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December 25 – Christmas: The Nativity of the Lord [ABC]


“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.”
Matthew 1: 1-25 [18-25]

For Matthew, the story of Jesus begins with the promise to Abraham – that Jesus is the ultimate and perfect fulfillment of the Law and Prophets.  So Matthew begins his Gospel with “a family record” of Jesus, tracing the infant's birth from Abraham (highlighting his Jewish identity) and David (his Messiahship).  The historical accuracy of Matthew’s list is dubious; but that is not the point.  Matthew’s genealogy celebrates this Jesus as the fulfillment of a world that God envisioned from the first moment of creation – a world created in the justice and peace that is the very nature of its Creator.

Matthew’s version of Jesus birth at Bethlehem follows.  This is not Luke’s familiar story of a child born in a Bethlehem stable that will be read at Mass later tonight.  Matthew’s Gospel recounts the story of a young unmarried woman suddenly finding herself pregnant and her very hurt and confused husband wondering what to do.  In Gospel times, marriage was agreed upon by the groom and the bride’s parents almost immediately after the age of puberty; but the girl continued to live with her parents after the wedding until the husband was able to support her in his home or that of his parents.  During that interim period, marital intercourse was not permissible.  Yet Mary is found to be with child.

Joseph, an observant but compassionate Jew, does not wish to subject Mary to the full fury of Jewish law, so he plans to divorce her “quietly.”  But in images reminiscent of the First Testament “annunciations” of Isaac and Samuel, an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and reveals that this child is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.  Because of his complete faith and trust in God’s promise, Joseph acknowledges the child and names him Jesus (“Savior”) and becomes, in the eyes of the Law, the legal father of Jesus.  Thus, Jesus, through Joseph, is born a descendent of David.

Matthew’s point in his infancy narrative is that Jesus is the Emmanuel promised of old – Isaiah’s prophecy has finally been fulfilled in Jesus: the virgin has given birth to a son, one who is a descendent of David's house (through Joseph).  Jesus is truly Emmanuel “God is with us.”

“For today in the city of David a savior has been born to you who is Christ and Lord.”
Luke 2: 1-14

Centuries of hope in God’s promise have come to fulfillment: the Messiah is born!

Luke's account of Jesus’ birth (Gospel) begins by placing the event during the reign of Caesar Augustus.  Augustus, who ruled from 27 B.C.-14 A.D., was honored as “savior” and “god” in ancient Greek inscriptions.  His long reign was hailed as the pax Augusta: a period of peace throughout the vast Roman world.  Luke deliberately points out that it is during the rule of Augustus, the savior, “god” and peacemaker, that Jesus the Christ, the long-awaited Savior and Messiah, the Son of God and Prince of Peace, enters human history.

Throughout his Gospel, Luke shows how it is the poor, the lowly, the outcast and the sinner who embrace the preaching of Jesus.  The announcement of the Messiah’s birth to shepherds – who were among the most isolated and despised in the Jewish community – is in keeping with Luke’s theme that the poor are especially blessed of God.

“Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place which the Lord has made known to us.”
Luke 2: 15-20

Typical of Luke’s Gospel, it is the shepherds of Bethlehem – among the poorest and most disregarded of Jewish society who become the first messengers of the Gospel.

From the Christmas story in Luke’s Gospel, we have a romantic image of shepherds as gentle, peaceful figures.  But that manger scene image is a far cry from the reality:  The shepherds of Biblical times were tough, earthy characters who fearlessly used their clubs to defend their flocks from wolves and other wild animals.  They had even less patience for the pompous scribes and Pharisees who treated them as second and third-class citizens, barring these ill-bred rustics from the synagogue and courts.

And yet it was to shepherds that God first revealed the birth of the Messiah.  The shepherds’ vision on the Bethlehem hillside proclaims to all people of every place and generation that Christ comes for the sake of all of humankind.

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us . . .
John 1: 1-18

The Gospel for Christmas Day is the beautiful Prologue hymn to John’s Gospel.  With echoes of Genesis 1 (“In the beginning,” “the light shines on in darkness”), John’s prologue exalts Christ as the creative Word of God that comes as the new light to illuminate God's re-creation.

In the original Greek text, the phrase “made his dwelling place among is” is more accurately translated as “pitched his tent or tabernacle.”  The image evokes the Exodus memory of the tent pitched by Israelites for the Ark of the Covenant.  God sets up the tabernacle of the new covenant in the body of the Child of Bethlehem.


The humility and selflessness of Jesus that will be the centerpiece of his ministry and mission as the Messiah are first seen in his simple birth among the poor.

The true miracle of Christmas continues to take place in the Bethlehems of our hearts.  In the emptiness of our souls, God forgives us, reassures us, exalts us, elates us, loves us.

Christmas is more than a birth of a child; it is the beginning of the Christ event that will transform and re-create human history, a presence that continues to this day and for all time.

In Jesus, the extraordinary love of God has taken our “flesh” and “made his dwelling among us.”  In his “Word made flesh,” God touches us at the very core of our beings, perfectly expressing his constant and unchanging love.

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December 31 – The Holy Family [B]

“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted . . . ”
Luke 2: 22-40


In today’s Gospel, the faithful Joseph and Mary bring their son to the temple for his presentation to the Lord, a ritual required by the Law.  The Book of Exodus taught that a family's first-born son “belonged” to the Lord who saved them when the first-born sons of the Egyptians were destroyed at the first Passover (Exodus 13: 15).

The prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna are idealized portraits of the faithful “remnant” of Israel awaiting the Messiah’s coming.  Simeon’s canticle praises God for the universal salvation that will be realized in Jesus; in his prophecy, the shadow of the cross falls upon the Holy Family.

Anna, as an elderly widow, is considered among the most vulnerable and poor of society.  Her encounter with the child typifies the theme woven throughout Luke's Gospel: the exaltation of society's poorest and most humble by God.

In Matthew and Luke’s stories of Jesus birth and childhood (which were later additions to those Gospels, drawn from the many stories about Jesus’ life that were part of the early Christian oral tradition that had developed), life for the family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus is difficult and cruel: they are forced from their home; they are innocent victims of the political and social tensions of their time; they endure the suspicions of their own people when Mary's pregnancy is discovered; their child is born under the most difficult and terrifying of circumstances; they experience the agony of losing their beloved child.  And yet, through it all, their love and faithfulness to one another do not waver.  The Holy Family is a model for our families as we confront the many tensions and crises that threaten the stability, peace and unity that are the joys of being a family.


Today’s Feast of the Holy Family calls us to re-discover and celebrate our own families as harbors of forgiveness and understanding and safe places of unconditional love, welcome and acceptance.

The Holy Family is a model for our families as we confront the many tensions and crises that threaten the stability, peace and unity that are the joys of being a family.

The prophet Simeon proclaims that this child will be a “light” for Israel — but that light will endure great suffering and pain before finally shattering the darkness.  Luke’s Gospel of the Child Jesus reminds us that the crib is overshadowed by the cross, that this holy birth is the beginning of humankind’s rebirth in the Resurrection.  

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January 1 – Mary the Mother of God / Holy Name of Jesus [ABC]

When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus . . .
Luke 2: 16-21


In the Roman church, today’s solemnity is the oldest feast of Mary in the Church, honoring her by her first and primary title, “Mother of God.”

Jesus is given the name Yeshua – “The Lord saves.”  The rite of circumcision unites Mary’s child with the chosen people and makes him an heir to the promises God made to Abraham – promises to be fulfilled in the Child himself.


Today we honor Mary under her most ancient title, Theotokos, Bearer of God:  In accepting her role as mother of the Messiah, she becomes the first disciple of her Son, the first to embrace his Gospel of hope, compassion and reconciliation.

As Mary, the young unmarried pregnant girl, believes and trusts in the incredible thing that she is to be a part of, even the most ordinary of us can believe in our parts in the drama, too.

The God who makes all things new in Christ enables us to make this truly a new year for each one of us – a time for renewal and re-creation in the love of God, a time for making this year a year of peace in our lives and homes, a time for making this new year truly a “year of our Lord.”

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January 7 – Epiphany [ABC]

Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,  “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?  We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”
Matthew 2: 1-12


The story of the astrologers and the star of Bethlehem is unique to Matthew’s Gospel.  Note that Matthew does not call them kings nor does he give their names nor reports where they came from – in fact, Matthew never even specifies the number of magi (because three gifts are presented to the Child, it has been a tradition since the fifth century to picture “three wise men”).  In stripping away the romantic layers that have been added to the story, Matthew’s point can be better appreciated.

A great many First Testament ideas and images are presented in this story.  The star, for example, is reminiscent of Balaam’s prophecy that “a star shall advance from Jacob” (Numbers 24: 17).  Many of the details in Matthew’s story about the child Jesus parallel the story of the child Moses and the Exodus.

Matthew’s story also provides a preview of what is to come.  First, the reactions of the various parties to the birth of Jesus parallel the effects Jesus’ teaching will have on those who hear it.  Herod reacts with anger and hostility to the Jesus of the poor who comes to overturn the powerful and rich.  The chief priests and scribes greet the news with haughty indifference toward the Jesus who comes to give new life and meaning to the rituals and laws of the scribes.  But the magi – non-believers in the eyes of Israel – possess the humility and the openness of mind and heart essential to faith that leads them to seek and welcome the Jesus who will institute the Second Covenant between God and the New Israel.

Secondly, the gifts of the astrologers indicate the principal dimensions of Jesus’ mission:


Epiphany calls is to a new vision of the world that sees beyond the walls and borders we have created and to walk by the light which has dawned for all of humankind, a light by which we are able to recognize all men and women as our brothers and sisters under the loving providence of God, the Father of all.

The magi’s following of the star is a journey of faith, a constant search for meaning, for purpose, for the things of God that each one of us experiences in the course of our own lives.

What we read and watch and listen to in search of wealth, fame and power are the “stars” we follow.  The journey of the magi in Matthew's Gospel puts our own "stargazing" in perspective, calling us to fix our search on the “star” of God’s justice, peace and compassion.

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January 14 – Second Sunday of the Year [B]

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”  The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.
One of the two was Andrew, who found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah.”
John 1: 35-42


A new beginning and a sacred invitation mark today’s Gospel.

In John’s proclamation of Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” the age of the prophets ends and the era of the Messiah begins.

Jesus’ invitation to Andrew to “Come and see” so moves Andrew that he invites his brother Simon Peter to “come and see” for himself.  This is the first of three episodes in John’s Gospel in which Andrew introduces someone to Christ:  Andrew brings to Jesus the lad with the five barley loaves and a couple of dried fish (John 6: 8-9) and it is Andrew who asks Jesus to meet the Greeks who have requested, “Sir, we would like to meet Jesus.” (John 12: 22)


The challenge of the call to discipleship/prophecy is to discern and respond to that call within our own lives, in the context of our own experiences.  

Jesus calls us to “come and see”: to realize the presence of God in the goodness and generosity around us and to follow him: to focus our attention on the needs of others rather than our own wants, to find purpose in bringing joy into the lives of others rather than in the pursuit of the things the world deems as important. 

If we look hard enough, if we look humbly enough, we encounter Christ walking among us as members of our family, friends and parish.  We discover the Messiah “staying” within our own homes and hearts

To be an authentic disciple of Jesus means to look at the world with a vision of hope, to recognize the dignity of every human being as a son and daughter of God, to joyfully take on the challenge of bringing justice and peace into our own Jerusalems and Nazareths.

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January 14 – Second Sunday after the Epiphany [B]

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.  Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
John 1: 43-51


After the beautiful Prologue to his Gospel, the evangelist John recounts a series of brief scenes that serve as an introduction to his “Book of Signs.”  In the course of four days, Jesus organizes his ministry in a series of encounters with John the Baptist (day one and two), Andrew and Simon (day three), and, in today’s reading, Philip and Nathanael (day four).  Each of these encounters provides a testimonial to the divinity of this Jesus: Lamb of God, Messiah, Son of God, King of Israel.  The evangelist seeks to impress this Christology in the minds of his readers as he begins his narrative.

In today’s pericope, Philip, who has been called by Jesus, approaches Nathanael.  Nathanael provides a bit of vinegar to the story with his caustic remark, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Nathanael’s gibe (probably reflecting the rivalry typical between towns and regions) might also be included by John as a preview of the later rejection of Jesus by the Jewish establishment because of his origins. 

Nathanael also serves as the model of the “true Israelite,” part of the “remnant” who have faithfully awaited the fulfillment of God’s reign in the coming of the Messiah and now see that hope fulfilled in Jesus.

(Some scholars believe that Nathanael continued in Jesus’ company as one of the Twelve.  They suggest, though there is no conclusive evidence, that Nathanael is the apostle identified as “Bartholomew” in several New Testament lists of the apostles because Bartholomew’s name follows that of Philip.)


God can be found in the most unexpected of places.  God is present in the poverty of our Bethlehems, in the emptiness of our Nazareths, in the turmoil of our Bethsaidas. 

Whatever Nathanael-like skepticism, biases and judgments we possess are shattered in Christ who comes to proclaim God’s reign of justice and peace. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites the first disciples – and us – to “come and see” beyond our own safe little worlds and to realize the good things that we have shut out of our lives, to break out of the cycle of emptiness that impoverishes our spirits and hearts. 

Often to our surprise, God seeks us out from the isolation of our fig trees and invites to come and realize a life transformed in his Christ.

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January 21 – Third Sunday of the Year [B] /Third Sunday after Epiphany [B]

Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news about God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea.  “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.”
Mark 1: 14-20


The day of the Messiah has dawned; but newness demands change: a “turning away” (the original meaning of the word repentance) from business as usual and a complete trust in the life and love of God.  Simon and Andrew’s “abandoning” of their nets and James' and John’s “abandoning” of their father in today's Gospel illustrate the total trust and commitment Jesus demands of those who would be his disciples.


Jesus began his ministry by calling simple fishermen to be his most trusted friends.  Although the Twelve were hardly scholars or men wise in the ways of the world, Jesus saw beyond their gruff simplicity to call forth from them faith, sincerity and integrity.  As Mark’s Gospel unfolds each Sunday this year, the first disciples will misunderstand Jesus (if not miss the point entirely), desert him and even deny and betray him. 

To follow Christ means “abandoning our nets” of self-interest to embrace the needs of others; Jesus calls us to follow him along the difficult path of humility and selflessness.  If we are going to realize his call to be “fishers of men,” we have to be willing to cast our nets into waters that are deep and turbulent, waters we do not know, waters that threaten the safety and security of our small boats. 

But Jesus entrusts to them, for all of humankind, the proclamation of his Gospel.  We, too, are called by Christ to be his “fishers,” to help one another discover the love of God in our midst.

The Gospel is about possibilities:  Christ came to show us how it is possible to love life to the fullest, if we dare to make forgiveness, reconciliation and selfless charity the center of our lives. 

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January 28 – Fourth Sunday of the Year [B] / Fourth Sunday after Epiphany [B]

The people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes:  “What is this?  A new teaching with authority.  He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
Mark 1: 21-28


For the poor Jews of Jesus’ time, the scribes were the voices of authority, the final arbiters of the Law in which God had revealed himself.  Their interpretation of the Law was considered absolute.

“Demons” are encountered several times in Mark’s Gospel.  Anything that the people of Jesus’ time could not understand or explain, such as disease, mental illness or bizarre or criminal behavior, were considered the physical manifestations of the evil one – “demons” or “unclean spirits.”

Both demons and scribes are silenced in today’s Gospel.  Jesus’ casting out the unclean spirit from the man possessed silences the voices of the demons that plague humanity.  In his compassionate outreach to the poor and sick, Jesus “silences” the scribes by redefining the community’s understanding of authority:  whereas the “authority” of the scribes’ words is based solely on their perceived status and learnedness, the authority of Jesus is born of compassion, peace and justice.  The casting out of the demons and his curing of the sick who come to him are but manifestations of the power and grace of his words.

Note that the people of the Bible viewed miracles differently than we do.  While we, in our high technology, scientific approach to the world, dismiss miracles as some kind of disruption or “overriding” of the laws of nature, the contemporaries of Jesus saw miracles as signs of God's immediate activity in his creation.  While we ask, How could this happen? they asked. Who is responsible?  Their answer was always the same: the God of all creation.  Those who witnessed Jesus' healings, then, saw them as God directly touching their lives.


True authority is propelled by persuasion, not coercion; effective leadership is a matter of articulating a shared goal rather than warning of the consequences of failure. 

Authority comes not from power to enforce but from the ability to inspire.  Jesus’ “authority” inspires rather than enforces, lifts up rather than controls; he sees his call to “lead” as a trust, as a responsibility to serve others by revealing the God who calls us to compassion and mercy for the sake of his kingdom of peace, instead of a God of judgment and vengeance. 

The “unclean spirit” that Jesus casts out of the poor man in today’s Gospel serves as a symbol of the voice of evil that sometimes speaks within us -- the voice of revenge, self- centeredness, self-righteousness, greed, anger. 

We can be “possessed” by “demons” who discourage us and plague us with fear when we consider the unpopular position that we know is right and just; or the “demon” of rationalization that falsely justifies actions – or inactions – we know in our heart of hearts is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel.  The compassionate Jesus of the today’s Gospel speaks to those "unclean spirits" as well, offering us the grace and courage to cast them out of our minds and hearts forever.

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