Fr Vincent's reflections on the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021

On this Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus frees a man possessed by an unclean spirit.  Have you ever noticed that unclean spirits, not to mention nature itself, obey Jesus better than most human beings?  What about you and me; how are we about obeying Jesus?


Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Read the text:


Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time                    (Jan. 31, 2021)


In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.       R/.  Amen.


The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.              R/.  And with your spirit.


On this Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us pray:


             Grant us, Lord our God,

             that we may honor you with all our mind,

             and love everyone in truth of heart.

             Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

             who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

            one God, for ever and ever.                                                      R/.  Amen.



Hopefully you have your Bible with you to follow along.  If not, please pause the video to retrieve your Bible. 

The Gospel today is Mark 1:21-28.



A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark


      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.


The Gospel of the Lord.                                    R/.  Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


OBEY is a four-letter-word, isn’t it!?  Many times, we as human beings can believe it is one of the dirtiest four letter words in the English language, because we do everything we can to avoid it!  When someone challenges us to “obey,” we can think that means we are made prisoners and forced against our will to do something we would never freely choose to do.  In fact, that is the point: we think we must give up our freedom when we are expected to obey.

I start our reflection today with reference to “obey” because of that line in the Gospel, “He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”  There is another place where Jesus calms the storm at sea, and the disciples say something similar: “Even the wind and sea obey his words!”  Brainless nature and evil spirits who hate Jesus obey him.  Yet, you and I who claim to love God and Jesus can fight against being obedient!  Have you ever noticed the irony of this situation?

I share this reflection periodically because even I need to remember it ever so often.  The word “obey” comes from the Latin word, obedire, which means to listen with body, mind, and spirit.  It’s not just to “hear” with our ears, but more so, to allow the words to sink into our mind and shape our spirit.  It means to be open to change our way of thinking and acting because of  the words we hear.  To “obey” is to allow ourselves to become better people because the words direct us to better choices.

So, to obey Jesus is not to surrender our freedom, it is not to be forced to do something against our will.  To obey Jesus is to allow his words to shape our way of thinking and making choices for ourselves.  It means that I want his words to become my words, his expectations to become what I expect of myself.  Obeying Jesus means I freely choose to do what I trust is right, even if it is not completely clear to me, and thus become the person I truly want to be.

Once more, this is echoed by our Opening Prayer of the Mass:

             that we may honor you with all our mind,

             and love everyone in truth of heart.

You see, we are telling God we don’t want to obey Jesus as if we are robots performing programed actions, but that we want our mind – our will – to honor Him, to listen to Him and obey Him.  Because we do want to be people of love for others, from our hearts.  But we can only grow to be that loving by allowing the words of Jesus to change our minds and conform ourselves to his teachings.

If evil spirits can obey and mindless wind and sea can obey, what’s stopping you and me?  I need to get over my claim of freedom and self-direction to understand that obeying Jesus truly makes me free of the smallness of my own mind, and allows me to direct myself toward where I really want to be: with him forever in Heaven.


God bless!


Final Blessing:

             The Lord be with you.                                                               R/.  And with your spirit.

             And may the blessing of almighty God,

             the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

             come down on you and remain with you for ever.                  R/.  Amen.