I must admit this week’s gospel delivered a writer’s block in me. What can one do to alleviate this? Someone from the Parish Office suggested going for a walk to breathe in fresh air. I went only as far as the Balwyn Library. The short walk led me to a nice shaded place just outside the entrance. Within a few moments, a rush of patrons came from all directions to return their books. The simple everyday scene made me wonder about the kind of effect books have on readers. Were their minds enlightened, challenged, inspired, entertained? Authors deserve our admiration for sharing their knowledge to the world. We can depend on their expert knowledge. For some people knowledge can be liberating. Readers are liberated by knowing something new. Certain knowledge can be life-giving and transformative. Our belief that the author of life has authority over all things including those forces that restrict and confine us. To be our true and authentic selves requires the author’s liberating power. We see this power exercised in this weekend’s gospel:
Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the Sabbath came Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.
In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit, and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside. Mark 1:21-28
The Word’s life-giving and transformative power finds expression in each one of us in our everyday lives through our work. Our first reading from Deuteronomy re-enforces this, that God promises us that he will raise prophets from among us, he will put his words into their mouths and they shall proclaim what he commands. Not only are we the receiver of the Word, we are also the proclaimer of the Word. We often see Pope Francis receiving at his general audience people from all walks of life, from dignitaries to even circus performers. His invitation helps us to see in each person their God-given talents can transform people.
By Fr Hoang Dinh
Published: 25 January 2024