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Open Your Hearts

“All were amazed and asked one another,

‘What is this? A new teaching with authority.

He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.’

His fame spread everywhere throughout

the whole region of Galilee.” 


From Sunday’s Gospel of Mark 1:21-28   

     In today’s first reading from Deuteronomy 18:15-20, Moses knows his time in this world is coming to an end, so he wishes to prepare his followers for the time after he is gone. Moses assures them that God will send prophets to them of whom they are to heed. In this Sunday’s Gospel from the 4th Week in Ordinary Time, Jesus embarks on his ministry of preaching, exorcising evil spirits, and healing. In his person, Jesus supersedes all of the prophets of old, and in a surprisingly brief amount of time, his fame as a preacher and healer spreads like wildfire throughout the land. Several stories, such as this one, within the Gospels take place in Capernaum, which is situated alongside the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, about 30 miles northeast of Nazareth, indicating that a great amount of time in his ministry was spent there.

     In the Gospel of Mark, the theme of the messianic secret is prevalent. Jesus does not necessarily want to be so popular or full of fame. It could be best understood that he did not want to be primarily associated as a wonder worker who offers miraculous cures. This could get in the way of persons identifying him as a teacher and prophet whose words could be overshadowed by his acts of healing. Jesus’ words play an equal, if not greater, role in his mission to redeem and save us.

     In times of transition, we know that we are never alone, that Jesus is by our side. Religious leaders, like Moses, will come and go, but God’s word and presence is eternal. We are called to make our hearts open to his word as we heard in today’s Palm 95: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”    

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