Video (much better than reading): https://www.youtube.com/watch?fbclid=IwAR3XfFxAY1SU-TSinEWGF0P8EfdItUxxG1dzkE4U2z_r_EzakQzNJfZSFBc&v=GYm29F7yEeA&feature=youtu.be
Preview/Context: 00:00 - 03:30
Homily: 16:10 - 24:10
Who do we give authority to speak into our hearts? That’s the question to consider as you listen to the readings today – it applies to all of the readings - even the 2nd reading, although I won’t talk about that today. Who do you give authority to speak to your heart?
There’s a backstory to the first reading which I need to share to set the context.
Remember when the Israelites were in the Desert at Mt Sinai and God gave them the 10 commandments? Well – at first, God came onto the mountain with thunder and lightning, speaking directly to the Israelites who were gathered at the base of the mountain. Each person heard him speaking directly to their heart. It was so overwhelming, they were so scared to death! They told Moses – you talk to God and tell us what He says – don’t let him talk directly to us again! So Moses became the mouthpiece of God for the Israelites – but God promised that He would raise up a prophet from their own kin who would speak His words. This is an important prophecy: first it refers to Joshua, who immediately succeeded Moses as the prophet – and HE became the new mouthpiece for God. But it also refers ultimately to another prophet named Jeshua… we call him Jesus. When Jesus came he fulfilled that prophecy perfectly because God himself came in human form – from the kin of the Israelites – and once again God was able to speak directly to His people!
Hopefully that will make the first reading more understandable – but also – the Gospel is the first time in Mark that Jesus starts teaching – talking directly to His people, so today is the fulfillment of that prophecy. We’re only on verse 21 of the Gospel of Mark, but in this short time we pick up several themes – He proclaims that the Kingdom of God is at Hand, He teaches, and He proves that He has been given ultimate authority by performing his first miracle.
As we read that Gospel, I want to invite you to imagine yourself in the story…
Who do we give authority to speak into our hearts? If God himself was to speak to you or me today, would we listen? Are we like the Israelites… do we even WANT God to speak to us? I propose that most people DON’T want to hear God speak unless He agrees with them. Seriously, for the most part, people don’t really want to hear ANYone else’s opinion… we just want to hear our OWN opinion coming from someone else’s mouth. If your opinion doesn’t 100% match mine, don’t talk to me. In fact, you must have a demon in you, so go back to where you came from. Yeah – it ramps up quick like that.
Surely you’ve noticed that it’s almost impossible to have a civil discussion about anything nowadays. We immediately get ramped up, indignant, offended. Why has it gotten so bad? I’m pretty sure social media is largely to blame: not only do we get fed stuff every minute which is DESIGNED to get a rise out of us, but the social media algorithms know what we click on and what we agree with and will feed us stuff specifically designed to keep us clicking… specifically designed to make us harden our hearts and dig our heels in even further! Think about it! If I think X is true, the social media folks will only shoot me snipits of headlines which catch my attention, cater to my opinion, and only prove that those who oppose my way of thinking are not just wrong – but they’re wackos bent on destroying society as we know it, and I’d better get really MAD!
It’s such a devious plan that it almost feels demonic… like some evil force is infiltrating our culture – even infiltrating our church - just TRYING to tear us apart. This divide is tearing apart our country, tearing apart our church, tearing apart our families, and often, tearing each of our own hearts.
Like the demon in the Synagogue today, this demon is among us – even in our Church. The demons are getting braver… coming closer to Jesus… they know who He is – and they think that by calling out Jesus to those around us, he can drive Jesus away… But they have no power over Jesus… demons have no power except that which we give to them. Hear that – demons are created beings – created by God – and they have zero power except that which we allow them to have.
It’s important that we identify those demons in our own lives – call them by name – and throw them out of the Church / out of our lives. In some ways, the 70 men and women participating in Exodus and Fiat are learning that. Every one of us are finding that we have allowed something to control our lives… not necessarily anything demonic, but you and I become a slave to anything that we give control to other than Jesus. By purposely taking on asceticisms – which is things that are hard to do, like Fasting – we are learning to exert control over our will – and thereby allow Jesus to take His rightful spot at the center of our lives. Only Jesus has that authority to speak to our heart.
What can we
Pay attention to whom we give authority to speak into our lives. Recognize that the traditional media and social media have been commandeered by someone with an ideology bent on calling out and putting a spin on everything you hear to make us all think that anyone who thinks differently than ME is self-centered, self-serving, immoral, and just an all-around mean person. As long as the demons can keep us thinking that way, we are doomed. Let’s Fight back.
Name the demons and call them out.
If your blood pressure goes up every time you watch the news, stop watching the news. I’m not saying we should bury our heads in the sand – but find a source of Truth instead of the half-lies, spin, and hype that is being fed to us.
If your anger boils every time you look at Facebook or Twitter, delete those accounts.
If you’re sure you’re right and everyone else is wrong, think again. If Love is not part of the equation, we’ll get the wrong answer every time. A good friend has a catchy quote: If you’re wrong in HOW you’re right, then you’re still wrong. In other words, Truth spoken without love can still be evil. This is NOT a right-wing or left-wing statement… These tactics are infecting everyone. Yes – even Demons can speak truth..or at least half-truths… but with evil intent: to divide the Body of Christ.
Instead of concentrating on what’s wrong with the world, narrow your focus and concentrate on loving the person in front of you. If there’s no person in front of you, then reach out to someone… there are plenty of people in need of human contact. Practice love… spread love… establish the Kingdom of God now.
It starts by letting Jesus have authority to speak to your heart.