Tuesday 11th January
Hebrews 2:5ff. Everything is subject to Jesus who is totally one with us. He was crowned with glory, after being perfected through suffering.
Mark 1:21ff. People are spellbound that Jesus teaches with such authority and even gives orders to unclean spirits.
Power to make us new
Our Scriptures reach into the deep roots of life and therefore as the people exclaimed about Jesus, we are impressed with “a completely new teaching” and a unique “spirit of authority.” But is it really all that new? Others before Jesus had wrestled with devils and evil spirits. We can recall Moses’ tryst with the magicians in Egypt and his command over the forces of wickedness and havoc, Exod 7:22; 8:3. Job too was pitted in a gigantic battle of personal integrity with the demon, Job 2:1-10. Jesus was not the first prophet to sway Israelites with his keen perception of moral issues and with compassion for human ills and injustices. We think of the prophet Isaiah’s appeal, “Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves clean… cease doing evil; learn to do good”, Isa 1:15-16.
While the Old Testament often deals with people’s heroic lives, most notably in Israel’s creation as a nation through flight from slavery, trek through the desert and long settlement in the land, these struggles are compressed into single moments in the life of Jesus as he drives out devils and speaks with elemental authority. These same battle against evil happens in the very flesh of Jesus. God decided to bring all his children into glory through his unique Son Jesus. This work of redemption would occur not only through Jesus but also within Jesus: Jesus was “crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death… made a little less than the angels yet tasting death for the sake of everyone and so he was perfected through suffering.” In the Greek, “perfect” technically means: to have gone through the entire cycle of human existence and so arrive at the goal or end.
Today’s texts then summon us to respect the deep, creative graces at the root of our existence; to wait actively, patiently, prayerfully; to pour out our soul before God; to interact with community and its leadership in the pursuit of our hidden goals, to be ready for the probing struggles that come with our earthly existence; to realize that Jesus has experienced each of our trials and temptations so that in Jesus we arrive at our true glory and honour as children of God.
First Reading: Hebrews 2:5-12
Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them? You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honour, subjecting all things under their feet.”
Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”
Gospel: Mark 1:21-28
They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he 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.”
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching – with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.