Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalms 95:1-2, 6-9; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28
Today is usually the memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., Dominican Priest and Doctor of the Church, 1225-1274. He is not celebrated this year because Sunday takes precedence. Here is a short bio of him. He was born into the noble family of Count Aquino. He studied at Monte Cassino and later at the University of Naples. In 1244, Thomas joined the Order of St. Dominic and completed his studies at the University of Paris and Cologne. Back in Paris he received a Master of Sacred Theology at the age of 31. He wrote the “Catena Aurea” to help clergy better understand Scripture and “Summa contra Gentiles” to provide doctrine for missionaries to Islam. He used Aristotle’s philosophy for the study of theology and wrote his famous “Summa Theologiae.” Thomas was one of, if not the most brilliant, of all theologians of our Church. His philosophy and theology were solely required teaching in Roman seminaries until after Vatican Council II.)
We see prophets in this week’s readings. Religious prophets in the Bible and today speak to us about God’s plan for our lives. True or false secular prophets, whose prophecies must be discerned, are counter-cultural and go against the tide. On what issues do they speak? They can oppose destruction, killing the innocent, death, unemployment, poverty and squalor.
Jesus, God’s prophet
Jesus was in person God’s prophet, predicted by the Old Testament prophets. He healed people, drove out evil spirits, taught God’s ways and trained successors to continue his work.
In Mark’s gospel today, Jesus exorcized a man of many demons at a Sabbath service to the shock and amazement of the worshipers. The demons knew who Jesus was and one demon spoke for the rest. “Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus was a priest, prophet, and servant king. By our baptism we too share this service to our fellow humans.
St. Paul’s instruction to married and single Christians then does not directly apply today. They believed then that Jesus was going to return very soon, perhaps in a month or a year or two. Thus there was no need to marry; there wouldn’t be time to raise a family. We are two thousand years later and Jesus has not yet returned.
Psalm 95 today is a good description of what I have been sharing about the little Fire Groups. We ask the guidance of God, the Holy Spirit, and come together to praise God with a few simple hymns we know from our church hymn book. This praise is shared in the first 5 verses of the Psalm. “Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation. Let us greet him with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to him. For the Lord is a great God, and a great king above all gods…,” (1-3).
Next sing a few worship Christmas carols, loving Jesus. If you are singing before Jesus in the tabernacle or not in church, you may move to verse 6, “Come, let us bow down in worship let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.”
The second general type of prayer is meditation. You are led to think about what you were singing. The natural progression is to be lifted up to silence, or contemplation. “Oh, that today you would hear his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts….”
Listen to Jesus
Now listen to hear what message Jesus wishes to speak to you. You want to see him and hear what he wants to tell you. he will lead you to what he wants of you next. By doing this you are praising and worshiping Jesus from your heart. He wants to “pierce” your heart with more love for him so you burn and flow with his love in the world to inspire and draw others to Jesus. Amen.
Try it. Jesus promises you will like it. Your wonder of amazement will shock you and your life will be different. Gather a few others and do this.
- Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2018 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)