Defining Moments: Week 5
God uses moments in your life to reveal his connection to you, his purpose and plan for your life and to encourage you to grow in trust for him. God wants to communicate with you.
Let’s look at a key moment in the lives of a whole group of people. Jesus brought about a moment to help them see something about their lives. It is an insight he wants us to experience as well.
In our Gospel today Jesus and a few of his apostles come to Capernaum, which is the town that becomes Jesus’ home base for his ministry. And on a Sabbath they entered a synagogue and Jesus took that opportunity to teach. Synagogues were local churches, like a parish church where God’s word would be read aloud on the Sabbath and the local rabbi would teach or preach.
So Jesus enters the synagogue and assumes the role of a teacher, probably at the invitation of the leader of the synagogue. We do not know what Jesus taught, but we do know the effect his teaching had on the congregation.
In the gospel, Mark contrasts Jesus’ teaching with those of the scribes. Who were the scribes? This was long before the printing press, so the scribes transcribed the scriptures, what we would call the Old Testament.
Obviously, in their position, they got to know scripture better than everyone else. But by Jesus’ day they had become legalistic interpreters of the scripture and the law found there. Jesus elsewhere accuses them of intolerance and hypocrisy as they had a tendency to insist on the letter of the law for everyone else while letting themselves off easy. Also their teaching could be contradictory, and confusing to the average man in the street.
Jesus on the other hand taught clearly with authority.
He knew what he was talking about not just because he knew what the Scripture said, but because he lived it out. He had authority because he had internalized Scriptures, it was on and from his heart.
His authority was so commanding that people were amazed. The gospel tells us 35 times that in encountering Jesus people were amazed. It was the most common response he seemed to evoke.
Then Jesus does something even more amazing.
Mark writes about an unclean spirit who cries out to Jesus in the synogogue. It’s a spooky scene. An unclean spirit refers to the demonic possession of someone attending the service that day. And if you don’t think anyone in church could ever have a little devil in them, you haven’t spent enough time around church.
So this spirit cries out to Jesus. And his question is a kind of rhetorical question. This demon knows that Jesus has come to destroy and conquer evil in the world. He has come as the Holy one of God.
It is interesting that in the Gospels, demons show up all the time, and they recognize Jesus’ true identity as well as his source of authority. At the same time a lot of the religious people miss it all together.
Jesus commands the demon to leave and he leaves. The demon submits to Jesus’ authority. This was an amazing moment for the people in attendance. This kind of thing didn’t happen every day at synagogue.
In this moment the crowd recognized that something new was happening. Jesus used this moment to make an impression on this group of people that this was a new day; that God was doing a new thing.
Jesus had given the man with an unclean spirit a new life by driving an evil spirit out of him. In that moment the crowd realized that, Jesus was different from every other religious leader. He could not only speak about new possibilities and new ways of living, he could provide the power to make it happen!
Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. The same Lord who gave a fresh start to the man with an unclean spirit can give you a fresh start too.
What if the moment the crowd had with Jesus is the moment God wants you to have right now? What is the new thing in 2021 that you would like our Lord to do in your life?
This is the power Jesus has. He has the power to make all things new. When Jesus came into this world, he ushered in fresh and new thinking, and says of himself, Behold, I make all things new.
The only way we can truly experience this is by being in Jesus presence, and realizing that He is present with you.
How is Jesus present with us? And when? Jesus is present with us when we pray, especially when we ask Him to help us to recognize He is with us.
He is present with us when we read Scripture. The story of our life is written in the Bible. The story of God’s transformative love is written there, as well. He speaks into our lives when we read it; when we pray with it; and when we take time to think deeply about what we are reading.
Jesus is present to us when we are with other believers. Scripture tells us that when two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there. That can happen anytime two of us are together: couples, friends, co-workers, but especially when we gather here at Church as the Body of Christ.
And as Catholics, we know and believe that Jesus is present in the Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist which we celebrate this today. When we eat this bread and drink this cup, Jesus intimately comes to us in a different way than He does in any other moment.
It’s when we recognize that He is with us, and we put ourselves in situations where He is present that He can make things new in our lives.
He wants to make things new in your life. How will you know what it is if you aren’t listening? If you aren’t putting yourself in His presence? How are you listening to how God is moving in your life?
I mentioned that one of the ways we experience Jesus’ presence with us and hear Him speaking to us is when we are present with other believers. A good way for that to happen is in these 3 Conversation groups that we talk about each week. It is a great way to share how God is leading you and to hear how He is leading others.
We will announce upcoming sessions soon.
And what better way to share the presence of Christ then to volunteer here at Saint Mary. We need help with our hospitality ministry and sharing the love of Christ. Could that be a defining moment for you and a fresh start in your faith journey, by maybe serving as a hospitality minister and enhancing the Sunday experience for all? Go to saintmary.life to sign up!
God still wants to do something new in your life this year.