4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Note that in the Gospel the unclean spirits recognise that Jesus is the Holy One of God and know why he there ‘to destroy them’.
On the other hand, the people recognise that Jesus teaches with authority and they see the miracles he works but they don’t yet seem to recognise that he is the Son of God, the Saviour. They will do - or at least some will, others will of course reject him.
There is always growth and decision in Our understanding of our Lord, his call and his teaching, in our own lives and in the teaching of the church throughout history. Jesus of course remains truly God and truly man speaking to each of us and to all of us in our hearts, in the sacraments and in prayer, through the scriptures, the traditions and teaching of the Church and as our knowledge of him grows and deepens their is also the constant question “ do I believe, do I agree, do I love. Do I follow?”.
To go back to the unclean spirits recognising Jesus as the Son of God but the people not – this is a bit of a warning. Just because I recognise that Jesus is the Son of God and that he has come to destroy the power of sin and death doesn’t mean I am saved, the unclean spirits do that much – but they still fear and hate him. On the other hand just because someone doesn’t yet recognise that Jesus is the Saviour, the Son of God, doesn’t mean they are lost – the growth in their hearts may flower one day.
So how do we know if we are growing in the knowledge of Jesus and following him? The signs are many and varied but it is good to remind ourselves of the simple summary the Church offers in the Corporal (or bodily) works of mercy and the spiritual works of mercy. Things which should be a part of our life.
•To feed the hungry
•To give drink to the thirsty
•To clothe the naked
•To harbour the harbourless
•To visit the sick
•To ransom the captive
•To bury the dead.
•To instruct the ignorant
•To counsel the doubtful
•To admonish sinners
•To bear wrongs patiently
•To forgive offences willingly
•To comfort the afflicted
•To pray for the living and the dead.
We would want to see these in our own lives and in the life of the Church.