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Bulletin: January 31, 2021

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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time


Who speaks for God? How can we determine which are authentic, authoritative expressions of God’s intentions, and which are false? Today’s readings explore the question of authority in distinct ways. In Deuteronomy, Moses prepares the people of Israel for his coming death, indicating that God will raise up a new prophet to guide them. Mark describes Jesus as God’s authentic voice, by the authority of his teaching and the authority he commands over an unclean spirit. In both, authority comes directly from God. Authority comes from an intimate relationship with God and with God’s people. God’s spokesperson is one who teaches, protects, and heals the people loved by God. As always, there is great need today for leaders in our communities who radically trust God to work through them. Let us pray that each person who performs in a role of leadership may speak for God with an authentic voice.


RESCUE FROM BONDAGE

Uniquely in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’ public ministry begins with a direct confrontation with an unclean spirit. Today’s Gospel passage reflects a recurring theme in Mark, that Jesus’ coming is part of a cosmic battle between God and evil forces. It was commonly believed that many spirits were present in the world, and some sought to control human beings. Mark asserts that in Jesus, God has come to rescue humanity, to free us from every form of bondage.

In today’s passage, the unclean spirit does not surrender power quietly. After complaints, convulsions, and screams, the spirit finally departs. As we may witness in own experience, that which binds us—fear, injustice, resentment—often departs only after a mighty struggle. Confronting anything “unclean” in our hearts, our institutions, or our society often involve