Gospel Reflection for Sunday the 31st of January 2021
Week 4 Ordinary Time
A good thing at times is to step back and take stock of what is happening in our lives, especially in connection with our faith.
When I came to Ireland, a good few years ago now, I was for the first time seriously introduced to the concept of God. Through a long journey of scientific and historical research I came to the conclusion that there might actually be a God. It was my friend and colleague who had journeyed with me who then suggested to start praying a little and to read the Bible and find out if it was true.
However, he didn’t say that as soon as I would start praying and read a bit of the Bible the heaven`s would open, miracles would happen and God would revealed Himself to me. Even though some miracles actually happened quite soon, he asked me to start and persevere and keep doing it for some time. To look back only in a few weeks, or even a few months, and see then what the changes were.
And this is very important, to sometimes look and see how far we might have travelled, hopefully forward but sometimes also backwards. To be encouraged to see how God works, and to be motivated to continue (or return) to the road that He leads.
As we have seen in the last three weeks, the story of the ministry of Jesus and the calling of the first Apostles is something that most likely also happened gradually. Not gradually as in the time of years, but maybe weeks or even months. As such it is good to look at putting the various Sunday readings together and see where they lead. Not to take each Sunday reading as an individual account, but to see them as part of the bigger picture.
It is then that we can see more clearly how the ministry of Jesus has slowly taken shape leading to this Sunday’s Gospel. Jesus comes back to Capernaun, the home base of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. This seems to me the place where he came back to frequently, and the people started to know Him. On the Sabbath He goes immediately to the synagogue to teach. This shows first off all the importance of putting God central on the Sabbath, our Sunday, listening and studying the Bible; to listen to the Lord.
The people were amazed because of the authority Jesus spoke with. It is not an authority that was given Him by rank or birthright. It was a pure and natural authority. The Greek word which we translate as authority indicates something that is comes from who somebody is. Jesus of course is God, and it shows not just how He is not just seen as a learned and wise man but something deeper, the vertical dimension, comes to the fore in the encounter with Him. Even evil spirits recognise this, and obey when he only uses His Word to cast them out.
We can see the change Jesus makes in people lives, especially the apostles. Following the story of their calling it really shows that it is the encounter with the person of Jesus that makes the difference. This encounter is something nobody has ever experienced before. Indeed the word about Him starts to spread around the countryside as He gets known better and more and more people flock to Him.
This encounter though, is something that has not finished. The encounter with the Word, as we find in the Bible, and especially the Gospels, is not different now from what it was when Jesus walked into Capernaun. It is the same Word, the active presence of God, which touches our hearts, even now, each day.
When I encountered it first I was blown away. It was not a moments conversion, and it took a little bit of time to become aware of the Presence, but it is this encounter that moved me to eventually be baptised. So encounter the Word! Engage with Jesus in the Word of God each day, but especially on Sunday. Look at the bigger picture. Be patient and diligent. Be surprised on see the things God can and will do in your lives, as I know He will as He has done it in mine..
– Fr Luuk Jansen OP