Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Deut 18:15-20; Ps.94; 2nd Reading – 1Cor 7:32-35; Gospel – Mk.1:21-28]


We are told that Jesus’ teaching was done “with authority” and “unlike the scribes’” teaching.  Once again, Jesus is put in contrast with the scribes: they both teach, but one (Jesus’) is done with authority while the other (the scribes’) is not. We are not told what authority is Mark speaking about but we are told that Jesus’ teaching made a deep impression on his followers!

The authority of Jesus can be seen in what follows on in the story. We are told that in the synagogue there was this man possessed by an unclean spirit. On seeing Jesus he shouted “… I know who you are: the Holy One of God”. This puts Jesus, the Holy One of God in contrast with the man with the unclean spirit. In response to the unclean spirit’s outcry, Jesus replies sharply – and with authority to the unclean spirit (and not to the man): “Be quiet! Come out of him!” After throwing the possessed man into convulsions, the unclean spirit, cries out loud and obeys Jesus’ order and comes out of the man. Before this incident Jesus’ teaching was already making ‘a deep impression’ on his followers. Now they were totally ‘astonished’. They discovered that Jesus’ teaching was not only ‘with authority’, but it was also ‘new’. It was ‘new and with authority behind it’. They have never seen anyone giving orders to unclean spirits and then witness being obeyed by them. For this reason, we are told that Jesus’ reputation spread rapidly everywhere…

This story can be seen as a mirror image of our own relationship with God. We are like Jesus’ followers because we are baptised, we try to follow the Sacraments, we come to church and so on … Whenever we hear the word of God, it makes an impression on us (and sometimes even a deep impression) because we see that it contains some authority in it. As soon as we allow ourselves to be near to the word of God, we recognise Jesus as the Holy One of God … and at the same time we see ourselves who we truly are … not too dissimilar to the possessed man … someone who is in constant need of God’s help because there is always something that preoccupies us and end up keeping us away from Him.

Our own experience typically ends here at this point, but Jesus wants to add something ‘new’ to our lives. It is not enough for us to just say (like the unclean Spirit): “I know who you are…” but we must also let Jesus speak sharply and with authority to us and eradicate what is ‘unclean’ in us: “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Some of us may even feel a strange uncomfortable feeling in getting rid of what is ‘unclean’ within us … and maybe we may even feel the need to shout out loud and cry … but we must let him work in us and in turn help us to be more astonished and to spread his reputation everywhere.

“Lord, give us the humility to be able to stand in front of you, to recognise our own limitations, and your power to heal our souls. Thank you Lord!”


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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