In today’s Gospel there is a sense of a heightened awareness of something new. As we read, perhaps we can see this from the context of what has just passed for us both liturgically in the feast of Christmas and secularly in the celebration of the New Year. With the promise of new life in the form of the Christ Child-the Word made flesh-and new hope for our world as 2015 dawns for us, we are invited to hear the newness spring from the text.
If we could imagine ourselves there in this first century synagogue in Capernaum sitting with the people assembled to listen to the teaching on the ancient Hebrew Scriptures. It seems clear from the text that Jesus is here for the first time. Can we imagine the heads turning in the room, eyes intently focused on Jesus as he speaks? Who is this before us?
Something new is dawning among the people and they begin to recognize it. Jesus teaches with "authority" and all are "amazed". The Gospel of Mark wastes no time in getting to the important details; we are still in chapter one and already we have the announcement that Jesus is the "Holy One of God". These words are placed in the mouth of an unclean spirit. With echoes of the first reading "subjecting all things under his feet" Jesus controls the unclean spirit. Interestingly he uses the same word, "quiet" in calming the storm (4:39).
The people assembled sound surprised-this is no ordinary day after all. So begins the journey to a new day even for us, perhaps it has not quite dawned yet but we can feel the possibility. Our God of surprises once again breaks into our everyday lives with the promise of eternity. A light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it! (John 1:5) May our hearts be ready to receive his Word as each new day dawns throughout 2015.
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.