Friday, January 26 2024
In today’s Gospel, Jesus immediately begins teaching in the synagogue and the people are amazed at the authority by which he teaches. By authority I mean that by the actions of Jesus Christ, justice and righteousness are served. It was the Sabbath and most Jewish folks went to the synagogue. In Jesus day, they had the same problem that we have in our day. Folks follow the law or rules of the church because they believe that they will be made holy. They believe that they can become spiritual by following a set of rules. Suddenly they are faced with a new interpretation of scripture that makes sense to them. Not only does Jesus preach on the Hebrew scripture, but Jesus follows the teaching with a healing.
Richard Rohr said, “Jesus enters the synagogue and of course he recognizes the evil ones, and they recognize him (Mark 1:24). They’re exposed. This is the first exorcism, or casting out of a demon, and it’s in a most amazing place. It’s not in the marketplace, it’s not in the prostitutes, it’s not in the tax collectors. The devil is in the synagogue itself! This is no small symbol. The only way evil can succeed is to disguise itself as good. And one of the best disguises for evil is religion. Just pretend to love God, go to church every Sunday, recite the creed, and say all the right things. Someone can be racist, be against the poor, hate immigrants, and be totally concerned about making money and being a materialist, but still go to church each Sunday and be “justified” in the eyes of religion.”
We pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus proclaims, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of heaven has come near; repent and believe in the Good News” God is active at St. John’s and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to witness to the love of God and to be the light of Christ in a land of darkness.
The Good News is that Jesus came to show us that God loves us, equips us with the gifts we need to respect and love one another, and gives us what we need to live an abundant life. We are a healthy and active church in the Diocese of Long Island. If we are healthy, it is because of our relationship with Jesus Christ and our willingness to witness to that love. If we are active, it is through the grace of God, in the love of Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. We can shine a great beacon of light because everything we do comes through the peace, love, and grace of God. Ask yourself this, "If St. John's were not here, would it make a difference to this community?" Let’s be the beloved community that God calls us to be in 2024.
At St. John’s, we can witness to our faith by coming to church, worshiping and praising God, and being sent out to the community to love and serve Christ. We are a parish in an ever secular, fast moving, polarized, and violent world. Paul asks us to, “be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.” In other words, we are all one in Christ. Please be confident that God has the strength to bring us to the Kingdom, that place where heaven and earth intersect, if we will only allow ourselves to be transformed.
In Christ’s love,