Sunday, January 29, 2006

Dt 18:18

'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.'

I was once faced with the question on an exam along the lines of "how does Christ fit in with the prophecies of the Old Testament?" I answered correctly, but later found out that the answer book answer and the ideal answer was that "Christ was the crowning fulfillment of the Old Testament." Here we see this again, the prophecy that God would send his son, begotten in His mind, and one of Israel among the Israelites.

How does that make one feel? It's actually rather a lot to have dropped in your lap suddenly. Hopefully, the feeling is one of the ball being in our court. We hear in Deuteronomy of the promise made by God to his chosen people, and in the New Testament we hear that fulfilled with every action, word, and step of Christ. We hear him today driving a demon out of a possessed man, just one of his ministerial miracles. So what reaction does God sending His son to us elicit? Let's not see three thousand some odd years ago, but rather the love that knew no bounds. The love that was broken by man and renewed by God. They say one of, if not the most unbearable thing is to lose a child. Also, it goes without saying that you don't go and ask for money from the man whose window you just broke. So why should God go through that, when no one of the world comes anywhere close to meriting it and if anything, done things to merit it all the less it? In short, it was God's love and passion for us.

But as is the case ever since the death and resurrection, God has done his part, and now it's time for us to do ours. If there is anything that we shou'lve have learned from the last few weeks' Gospels, it's that we do our part best by responding to the will of God and doing that will well. As all know, all Vocations require sacrifice, and here St. Paul really puts in a nutshell the sacrifice a priest should make, and why. Not only is celibacy good on the practical level, but also on the spiritual level. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. This is not to say that a married man cannot be zealous to please the Lord, but a man whose Vocation it is in life to bring souls to Christ through his Church should not be divided, as St. Paul says. No one better exemplifies this than Christ himself, who so totally and completely served the Father that he went without marrying. And who better than Christ for his priesthood to be modeled after?

In the Gospel reading from Mark, we hear of the Jews being "astonished" at how Christ taught; that is with the authority he spoke with. With that authority, he drives a demon out of a man, and with that authority, he drives the demons out of men by re-opening heaven to those who would follow him. One of the great tests of faith is to recognize worth, authority, and inherent sanctity. The dare for us today is to see that in the poor of our world - the dare back then was for St. John to still see the son of God, even at the foot of the cross, which style of punishment was reserved for the lowliest criminals. It is easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles, be they miracles or fantastic copes, but the test is to choose to follow God through His Church, to merit heaven with our faith and deeds, and to stay the course of faith, devotion, and belief. Would we have hailed incarnate deity, with all power, glory, and authority, even when it was being humiliated to the most radical extents? Though today we are not confronted with being physically at the foot of the cross at Calvary, we are symbolically in our praising God and giving witness to him even in the face of criticism, rejection, and hatred.

Also, in the Gospel, we hear the possesive evil. Of the evil that can enter one if we allow it. Demonic possessions happen to this day, but it is much more through television, media, and the likes that Satan works through. This is not to say that television and the media are inherently evil, but with lies, debauchery, and sex on every corner, who do you is the one pleased? When we renew our baptismal vows, we're asked whether we reject Satan, father of lies and prince of darkness, his works, all his empty promises. Do we, or do we say "I do" because that's what the rest of the people assembled are saying? Or do we because we have an earnest desire to serve God and not be lead astray by the pomps of moderninity? The greatest weapon the devil has is convincing people he does not exist. Let's not ever shut our eyes to the reality of his presence.

Throughout our lives, let us always strive to place and recognize properly the authority of God and that given to His Church, reject the lies of Satan and get back up when we do fall. Then, we will be able to join our voices with St. Paul's: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."