2015-02-01, 4th B, Hearing God’s Voice

Homily 02-01-15
4th Sunday Ordinary Time, B
Dt 18:15-20; Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9; 1 Cor 7:32-35; Mk 1:21-28

(Scriptures included after homily)


At first glance, we might wonder
what any of our readings had in common today.

We heard Moses’ exposition on prophets, Paul’s discussion on marriage and Jesus’ first homily and healing in Mark’s Gospel.  And yet, the answer is right there, in what was just said . . .  It wasn’t Moses, Paul or Jesus.  And it wasn’t Prophesy, Marriage or Homiletics.


In our Psalm Response, we sang, “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.”  So then, we might ask ourselves, “How much of any of the Readings,  did WE – actually Hear today?”  Maybe we were making faces with the cute little baby in front of us, or still fuming over that tough week at work, or at school.  Maybe we were fretting over the week to come, or WE may have just been praying.

But in the process,
did we hear God’s voice?

Well, if we didn’t, that’s why the Church gives us Homilies!
It’s our Second Chance!

And it’s funny, because what I heard in that first reading was God saying to me, that: If a prophet presumes to speak in God’s Name a word that God had not commanded, then that prophet would surely die!”  That really puts a lot of pressure on Father and I, because we have to be very discerning, that what we say to you, really is – what God wants you to hear!

So let’s go back to those Readings again, and see just, what they had to do with HEARING.

In our First Reading from the Book of Deuteronomy, we heard Moses speaking to the Israelites for the LORD.  You see, the Israelites heard and witnessed the awesome power and might of God, at the foot of Mt. Sinai, as Moses delivered those Ten Commandments.  And the Israelites were terribly afraid!

And, you know what, sometimes a healthy Fear of the Lord
could be a good thing!

But rather than changing their ways for the better, the Israelites asked to never have to hear the Voice of God again.  So God answered them, through Moses, by telling them that they will never again hear His Voice directly.  Instead, God will speak to them  through “a Prophet.”

And after that, God sent many prophets to the Israelites, to guide them, and to correct them, and to warn them of pending disasters.  Prophets like Samuel, and Isaiah, and Jeremiah.  Unfortunately, the Israelites did the same thing to those prophets that they did to God.  They covered their ears.  And then they killed them, if not outright, they did so in their hardened hearts.

As time passed by, the Jewish leaders took this message of God, that was given to Moses about a prophet, not to mean all those prophets, (who they didn’t listen to), but instead,
one great Prophet, with a capital P; who would come at some distant time in the future to save them from all their miseries.

Remember when the Pharisees asked John the Baptist, “Are you THE Prophet?”  It was this same Scripture passage from Deuteronomy, where the Pharisees got that notion of a “great Prophet.”  And it was their way of justifying why they were not listening, because they knew that there would never be anyone great enough to fill the shoes of that Prophet, even Jesus himself.

So when Jesus DID come among them, and spoke the Words of God, His Father, it was funny, because their immediate response was AMAZEMENT.  They actually Heard God’s Voice again, even if it was, just for a little while, before they covered up their ears again, and killed another prophet.

You see, Jesus proved to them that He WAS that Prophet, that Messiah, based on two important facts.

First, His Words were Words of Authority.  There was no question about the Truth
in the Words Jesus spoke, because His Words were not references to things other people said, they came directly from God.  They were WORDS of AUTHORITY.

And the second undeniable fact about Jesus, as Prophet, Messiah and Son of God, was His Power to Heal and His Power over Nature.  The demons had no problem identifying Jesus as “The Holy One of God,” even though the Jews still questioned what they were actually witnessing.  And on top of knowing who Jesus was, those demons had a healthy Fear of God, because, as we heard, they immediately obeyed Jesus’ command.

So now we can see how the Gospel and the First Reading truly related to Listening for and Hearing God’s Voice.

But what about Paul’s discussion on marriage?  Well if we listened closely, it was actually Paul’s very first sentence that gives us the answer.  Paul said, Brothers and Sisters, I
should like you to be free of anxieties.

Being unmarried himself, Paul envisioned marriage as being something pretty stressful.  But what Paul didn’t see, was the complementarity of a good marriage, and how a married couple could actually have less stress than a single person, because of the love and the help they give to one another.  Which again, all gets down to Listening for, and Hearing God’s Voice through our loved ones.

Paul’s point was that it’s a lot easier to listen to, and hear God’s Voice, when there’s less stress and anxiety in our lives married or not.

So in the end, we might, still be wondering: “What’s wrong, Deacon Joe, with smiling at that cute little baby in front of me, or solving a work problem in the quiet of Mass?”  And Deacon Joe would answer, “Absolutely nothing, beloved, as long as we keep God foremost in our thoughts, with an open Ear to catch, maybe even just a phrase, that will add to the beauty of that child, or the simplicity of that solution, knowing that God is in it!

Because when we Listen for, and Hear the Voice of God,
we come to know, beyond any doubt that:
God Loves us – no matter what!”

And THAT’s pretty AMAZING!

jmp 02-01-15

Scripture Readings for the Mass of 02-01-15
The Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B

First ReadingDt 18:15-20

Moses spoke to all the people, saying: “A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen.  This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.’

And the LORD said to me, ‘This was well said.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.  Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it.  But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.’”

Responsorial Psalm; Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9

R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; let us acclaim the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice: “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.”

Second Reading:  1 Cor 7:32-35

Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided.

An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

Gospel:  Mk 1:21-28

Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.

In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”  Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. 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.


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