Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
25 Jan 2021
Maryellen Knuth, MAPS ’05

Reading 1: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 95:1-2; 6-7; 7-9
Reading 2: 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Gospel: Mark 1:21-28

Today’s readings illustrate the next steps we are invited to follow along the way of discipleship. The psalm invites us to come and sing joyfully, to acclaim God as our rock! God’s voice is an invitation to come, to hear, and believe the good news. To trust in God’s promise whatever may happen, for we are God’s people, the sheep that God cares for!

In the first reading, the Israelites have prayed for a prophet like Moses, and God promises one. In Israel’s history, there are many prophets who arise as in our own time and recent history. St. Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, St. Mother Teresa, and Thomas Merton are just a few whose lives give witness to God’s prophetic call.

In the gospel, we see Jesus acclaimed as a prophet as the people respond with amazement and wonder at his teaching. He astonishes them as he calls out the presence of evil.  He is called the Holy One of God by the man with the unclean spirit. The disciples who follow him were still learning and understanding just who this Jesus was who teaches with authority and whom even the demons obey. As disciples, first called in baptism, we too are still learning what it means to be a follower of Christ.

In the second reading today from First Corinthians, Paul tells us that he would like us to be free of anxieties. How can we not be anxious or worried with all the crises swirling around us? The COVID-19 pandemic and more than 400,000 lives lost to this deadly virus, masking and distancing, missing our social connections, joblessness, homelessness, hunger, the November election and the fallout of mistrust and unrest that ensued, Black Lives Matter, climate change, and the list goes on and on. How can we not be anxious?  Paul reminds married couples to not focus solely on their spouse but on God. This is a call for married couples to strengthen their bond together and to focus on being the living, breathing sacrament that they are. Together they are more. Whether married, or single, men or women religious, we are called to be outward signs of God’s love, to be prophets in our own time, in our own broken world. Today’s readings invite us to be prophetic. What things swirling around our world today ask you to step out of your comfort zone and risk the prophetic call?  Finish the phrase, “I imagine a world…”

In baptism we are given a candle representing the light of Christ and asked to keep it burning brightly. As Amanda Gorman, Youth Poet Laureate and a prophet in her own right, reminded us in the last lines of that meaningful poem she recited at President Biden’s inauguration:

“When day comes we step out of the shade,
Aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light
If only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Be brave. Be prophetic.

Maryellen Knuth, MAPS ’05
Director, Emmaus Formation for Ministry Program