4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's Inspirational Snippet: Everything we've placed under Jesus' authority will produce good fruits.

Good News Reflection
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 1, 2015

Today's Readings
Deut 18:15-20
Ps 95:1-2, 6-9
1 Cor 7:32-35
Mark 1:21-28
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

The authority of Jesus

This Sunday's Gospel reading illustrates the authority of Jesus. If we truly accept and understand his authority over our lives, we can rejoice in the Lord even when life hands us hardships.

Why? Because we know that Christ's authority is supreme, which means that everything we've placed under his authority will produce good fruits. Even bad situations will be transformed into blessings. Tragedies will be changed into triumphs. Sorrows will be transfigured into joy. Frustrations will lay the groundwork for new growth, new knowledge, and a greater ability to minister to others.

However, if we reject Christ's authority by acting as if we're the ones in charge, deciding for ourselves how to end a problem or how and when to escape from a hardship, our problems will only get worse. Pope Francis wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Gospel of Joy (Evangelii Gaudium, paragraph 64) that this leads to a feeling of disorientation instead of joy. He noted: "We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data -- all treated as being of equal importance -- and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values."

The path to joy has been forged by the footsteps of Jesus. To benefit from his authority over evil and over human sufferings, we have to follow his example and obey his teachings. This means choosing to trust him, realizing that his ways are the best ways even when they're unpleasant ways. It means that we're willing to reach resurrection glory by going through the cross with Jesus.

There are no successful shortcuts to the triumphant victory that awaits us. There is no easy way to overcome evil. If this were not true, Jesus wouldn't have needed to die on a cross.

The good news -- the reason why we can rejoice -- is that the most loving, most powerful, most wise One in the universe is using his supreme authority on our behalf. The question is: Will we submit to it?

Questions for Personal Reflection:
In what ways are you still rejecting Christ's authority by trying to do things your own way? Which Church teachings have you been rejecting because you've decided to live by your own rules? Are you willing to ask the Holy Spirit to change your mind on these matters and teach you the value of Christ's ways?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
In what ways do Christians often reject Christ's authority in favor of defining their own rules? Why? What are the apparent risks to living completely under Christ's strict authority? How can we replace these risks with a sense of safety?

© 2015 by Terry A. Modica
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