Archive for April 17th, 2019

Mark 1:21-45: Self-Awareness

Holy Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The synagogue in Capernaum: where Jesus healed many

“The account of a single day’s ministry of Jesus on a sabbath in and outside the synagogue of Capernaum (21-31) combines teaching and miracles of exorcism and healing.  Mention is not made of the content of the teaching but on the effect of astonishment and alarm on the people.  Jesus’ teaching with authority, making an absolute claim on the hearer, was in the best tradition of the ancient prophets, not of the scribes”.  (Senior 69 cf. 1, 21-45)

I am thinking of these two words that appear in opposition to one another: astonishment and alarm.

Jesus comes to each of each day; but in this season of Lent he comes to us in a special way.  He urges us to come away from the temptation to be discouraged with our constant slipping into separation from him.  We are to not regard these times as failures, but rather as opportunities to be healed.  In a continual cycle of forgetting, regretting followed by an epiphany of self-awareness, we draw ever closer to the compassionate mercy with which we are loved by Christ.  In this way we receive God’s fullness.

From MAGNIFICAT this morning:  Receiving God’s word with a willing heart and returning it to him in prayer and praise is a work of Lenten transformation.  We indicate to God that we have heard his voice, heard the Christ, by thanking him, by witnessing for him as best we can, and by telling the good stories about all he has done for us.  This may be astonishing news to us.  It may also be alarming when we think of all this implies . . . that we are called to greatness, we are called to our divinity.  This is the promise of the season.

When we read this clipped and quick story by Mark, we might be tempted to run through these verses hurriedly; yet perhaps the impact of these words is all the sharper for their brevity.

The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught as one having authority and not as the scribes.

This is wonderful news; yet it can be alarming.  If we are so loved by such a one . . . are we ready to live up to this promise?  This duality of amazement and apprehension pulls us into an intense and deep self-awareness, one into which we might not otherwise enter if it were not for this soul piercing encounter with God.  We err . . . and still we are loved.  In our astonishment and alarm, we move forward in hopeful expectation . . . just like the people of Capernaum two millennia ago.

From the MAGNIFICAT evening prayer: Answer us, Lord our God!

Your love is unfailing: may our trust in you not fail us.  Answer us, Lord our God!

Your mercy is boundless: may our hope in your forgiveness grow.  Answer us, Lord our God!

Your desire for our salvation knows no limit: may our willingness to repent and be converted deepen through this season.  Answer us, Lord our God!

When we call, the answer from our God is . . . as always . . . Yes!

A re-post from March 3, 2012. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.69. Print. 

For more information on the synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus healed many, click on the image above or go to: http://www.davefarley.org/2009/03/28/capernaum/ 

Image from: http://www.davefarley.org/2009/03/28/capernaum/

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