The Holy One of God.
Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time - B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

Last Sunday the Gospel Reading showed us that Jesus had already started to choose the persons who would be his most faithful followers, his Apostles. Saint Mark, this Sunday, explains to us what occurred when Jesus preached in the synagogue in Capernaum, a prosperous town located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was the hometown of those first disciples whom the Lord had called to follow him: Andrew, Simon Peter, James and John.

The Saturday after arriving in Capernaum, Jesus went to the synagogue, as he usually did. For the Jews, there was, and continues to be, only one temple. The synagogues have always been places dedicated to the study of Holy Scripture. Each Saturday the Jews would gather together and after listening to a prayer, they would listen to a reading from Scripture and listen someone explain what had just been read. Sometimes the president of the synagogue would do this but oftentimes he would invite a lay person who had studied Scripture well and who was a good speaker to speak. And that is how Jesus came to be invited to preach.

When Jesus began to preach, the people were astounded by how well he spoke. They were surprised by the authority he showed when he taught. He was not like the Scribes who studied, interpreted and taught Scripture and who, many times, used their studies to judge the people who lived in the community. In Jesus’ time, the Scribes had become powerful men who enjoyed places of honor in the congregation. The best seats were reserved for them. People would rise when they entered the synagogue. Many of them were Pharisees and many were members of the Sanhedrin. They were called, “Rabbi,” which meant “great man.”

Many of the Scribes, Pharisees and members of the Sanhedrin did not even recognize that Jesus was a “Rabbi” much less the promised Messiah. Nevertheless, Saint Mark shows us that even Satan recognized him. In the synagogue at Capernaum there was even an unclean spirit who had possessed a man and who cried 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!"

Even though Satan is always lying in wait to cause us to fall into sin, it is comforting to know that He is panic-stricken by God. What we oftentimes forget is that he is even afraid of people who live their lives according to the teachings of Christ. The Devil knows that it is much more difficult for him to control people who follow Jesus closely. That is why he prefers to manipulate those who already are enslaved by sin.

The Second Reading reminds us of what we already know, or should know: that we all have a vocation and that it should be lived with integrity and courage. We Christians have been chosen, we have a vocation, to struggle against the evil that exists in this world. Unfortunately, sometimes when people like Saint Paul try to teach and promote the faith by giving a good example and living a good Christian life, Satan uses other people to obstruct that ministry. Many times these people do not know that this is what they are doing. So it should not seem strange to us when we hear people attack the Church and its teachings. Using otherwise good people to unwittingly do his dirty work is a tactic that Satan uses to discourage and confuse us. Let us pray always for our Holy Mother, the Church that she may continue to struggle without rest against sin. Let us also pray those people who, by attacking the Church that Christ founded, are unconsciously helping Satan so that God will make them see that they are being used. May God enlighten and protect them, and all of us, from the deceit of the Evil One.