The Authority and Power of Jesus’ Creative Word, 22nd Tuesday (I), September 1, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Tuesday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
September 1, 2015
1 Thess 5:1-6.9-11, Ps 27, Lk 4:31-37

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today in the Gospel we encounter both the authority and the power of Jesus’ word. He spoke with authority, unlike the Scribes and the Pharisees spoke, because he wasn’t citing Sacred Scripture or Rabbis but speaking as if he were the author, as if he were present at the origin to speak with first-hand designer knowledge, of what he was addressing. That’s true because he was. And he was also speaking with power, a power shown in the way that he exorcised the possessed man from whom demons spoke during his homily in the Capernaum Synagogue. Jesus continues to speak with that same power and authority today and we’re called never to lose our astonishment.
  • His word has the authority to blow us away and to wake us up, it has the power to make us children of the light, to use St. Paul’s words in today’s first reading from his first letter to the Christians in Thessalonika. After focusing on the theological reality of our baptism — that we are “not in darkness… for all of you are children of the light and children of the day” — he then shifts to the moral consequences: “Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober” and “encourage one another and build one another up.” The word of God reawakens us to who we really are. It sounds an alarm clock that snaps us out of spiritual somnambulation. It transforms us from darkness into light, a light that allows us to fill others with strength (“encourage”) and build each other up. This is our Christian task, to live awake to God’s presence and power and build ourselves and help others build themselves on God. Jesus talked about the “architectural significance” of his astonishing, amazing, authoritative, powerful word at the end of the Sermon on the Mount: “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock” (Mt 7:24-25). And that’s precisely what he helps us to do and wants us to help others to do. That’s the way we build each other up!
  • As we ponder the power of God’s word, we do so in a special way today on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of our Common Home, which Pope Francis has inaugurated to be marked on September 1 each year. We make this prayer in communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters have prayed in gratitude for the gift of Creation on this day now for many years. At the beginning, when God spoke his “authoritative” “creative” word, the most marvelous things happened. He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. He created all there is at his word and then created us in the image and likeness of Him who is the Word, so that we might exist in dialogue with him and others. And when we obscured his image and likeness through sin, he even more wondrously recreated us through the Word spoken in the very person, deeds and message of his incarnate Son. To celebrate this day means to hear anew the word God speaks to us in Creation and to respond with gratitude. Today is a day that with the words of the Prophet Daniel (Dan 3:52-87) we can praise him in the firmament of heaven together with all the Lord’s works, the angels, heavens, waters above the heavens, hosts, sun and moon, stars, every shower and dew, winds, fire and heat, cold and chill, dew and rain, frost and chill, ice and snow, nights and days, light and darkness, lightnings and clouds, all the earth, mountains and hills, everything growing from the earth, springs, seas and rivers, dolphins and all water creatures, birds of the air, beasts wild and tame, sons of men, Israel, priests, servants of the Lord, spirits and souls of the just, holy men of humble heart, and everything else under Creation! Today is a day in which we make our own the words of Psalm 148: “Praise the Lord from the heavens; give praise in the heights.  Praise him, all you angels; give praise, all you hosts.  Praise him, sun and moon; give praise, all shining stars.  Praise him, highest heavens, you waters above the heavens.  … Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deep waters;  You lightning and hail, snow and clouds, storm winds that fulfill his command;  You mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars;  You animals wild and tame, you creatures that crawl and fly;  You kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all who govern on earth;  Young men and women too, old and young alike.  Let them all praise the Lord’s name, for his name alone is exalted, majestic above earth and heaven.” Today is a day in which we ponder Jesus’ own great love of creation seen in the way that he would joyfully treat the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, even a cup of cold water. God speaks to us through Creation and we’re called to respond to thanksgiving, with praise, and with faith. He makes a Covenant with us through creation and we keep our end by caring for this gift, caring for the gift of each other made in his image and likeness through increasing and multiplying, care for the gift of the earth that he called us to fill and subdue, care for every living creature over whom he has given us a share in his dominion as stewards. Creation is a manifestation of the power and authority of God’s word and Pope Francis is asking us to pray that we might all become more attentive and grateful to God’s voice, as he wrote about extensively in Chapter II of Laudato Si’. 
  • Today as we come forward to celebrate Mass, we give God thanks for what he does with the fruit of the earth, the fruit of the vine, and our responsive work. He who wondrously created us even more wondrously restores us, as we pray on Christmas, and he does so through the recreation he gives us in the Sacraments. Today we don’t need a demon crying out in the midst of the Chapel to get us to take this message seriously. Today all of creation cries out with us to call Jesus, the one we’re about to receive, the Holy One of God.

 

 

The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1 1 Thes 5:1-6, 9-11

Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters,
you have no need for anything to be written to you.
For you yourselves know very well
that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.
When people are saying, “Peace and security,”
then sudden disaster comes upon them,
like labor pains upon a pregnant woman,
and they will not escape.

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness,
for that day to overtake you like a thief.
For all of you are children of the light
and children of the day.
We are not of the night or of darkness.
Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do,
but let us stay alert and sober.
For God did not destine us for wrath,
but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep
we may live together with him.
Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up,
as indeed you do.

Responsorial Psalm PS 27:1, 4, 13-14

R. (13) I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

Alleluia Lk 7:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 4:31-37

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee.
He taught them on the sabbath,
and they were astonished at his teaching
because he spoke with authority.
In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon,
and he cried out in a loud voice,
“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, “Be quiet! Come out of him!”
Then the demon threw the man down in front of them
and came out of him without doing him any harm.
They were all amazed and said to one another,
“What is there about his word?
For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits,
and they come out.”
And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.
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