15 January, 2013. Tuesday of Week 1 in Ordinary Time

Hbr 2:5ff. Jesus our Saviour was crowned with glory, having been perfected through suffering.

Mk 1:21ff.  Jesus teaches with authority and even commands unclean spirits.

First Reading: Hebrews 2:5-12

Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere, “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them? You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honour, subjecting all things under their feet.”

Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

Gospel: Mark 1:21-28

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and 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.”

But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching – with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

Who is this man, Jesus?

In today’s Gospel the people exclaimed about Jesus, impressed by the power of his teaching and his unique authority over evil spirits. But was it really all that new? Others before Jesus had wrestled with devils and evil spirits. We can recall Moses’ tryst with the magicians in Egypt and his command over the forces of wickedness and havoc (Exod 7:22; 8:3). Job too was pitted in a battle of personal integrity with the demon (Job 2:1-10). Jesus was not the first prophet to sway the people of Israel with his keen perception of moral issues and his compassion for human ills and his passion for justice. Think of Isaiah’s vibrant appeal, ” Wash yourselves clean… cease doing evil; learn to do good” (1:16). What was unique about Jesus is well expressed Hebrews: He is the one who, during his life on earth was made lower than the angels, but is now crowned with glory and honour because of the death he suffered, “so that by the grace of God he tasted death for everyone.”

He is the pioneer of our salvation, himself perfected by his sacrifical suffering during his Passion. He brings us into a family relationship with God, for now “the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father.” This first reading today rejoices that Jesus has made all of us his own brothers and sisters. His great achievement is to have gathered us together as God’s family, so that he is protportrayed as saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”

Today’s texts summon us to respect the deeply creative grace at the root of our existence; to live life actively, patiently, prayerfully; to interact with community and its leadership in the pursuit of the Kingdom of God; to be ready for the probing struggles with satan through our moments of “nazirite” existence; to realize that Jesus has experienced each of our trials and temptations so that in Jesus we arrive at our true glory and honour as children of God.

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