Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Even Demons Confess Him Lord... But Do We?

The readings for today, the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Dt 18:15-20, Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9, 1 Cor 7:32-35, Mk 1:21-28), don't seem closely bound together at first. The riddle, though, is solved thus. The epistle, this one to the Corinthians, doesn't usually have a theme in common with the other readings, but is meant as general moral advice for any occasion. The first reading and the gospel reading are meant to have something to do with each other, and the psalm, usually a prayeful response to the first reading, is often the key. Such is the case today.

Moses, before leaving the Israelites to go to die in peace, tells them that they are right to fear seeing God's glory in person again, and that God will send them more prophets, whom they must obey. They must be careful not to heed (the Hebrew literally means "to hear the voice of") false prophets, though, or disaster can be expected. They emphatically assert that they will obey prophets to come in God's name. Of course, we who know the rest of the story know that God's own Chosen People do not in fact often obey God's own chosen prophets. In fact, they punish the prophets more often than they pay them any mind. Fast forward to the gospel reading from St. Mark's account. Jesus, the one about whom the prophets spoke, has finally come to His people. As they treated the prophets, they just give Him a hard time. But in the synagoge, demons obey Jesus.

Of course, they haven't any choice because they are completely under His power, whereas He very graciously leaves us our freedom to continue screwing things up almost indefinitely. But that's just my point. God, whom neither the Israelites (nor we) voluntarily obey very often is obeyed by demons. We are put to shame by the lowest creatures in the universe, who have sunk the furthest. Every sin we commit is an implicit denial of the lordship of Jesus Christ; contrast this with the demon who confessed that Jesus Christ is Lord (Mark 1:24). Of course the demon hated the fact of Jesus' lordship. We merely slyly avoid thinking about the question when we have a lust, passion, or greed to satisfy.

Now, I am not trying to make it like demons are better Christians than we Christians are. Far from it. But I am trying to keep us from being cocky. We Catholics, especially, who have fullness of Christian revelation, ought to be ashamed to call ourselves Christian when in morals and manner of living we are outdone by separated Christians, by non-Christians, even by pagans. Too often, we are triumphalistic instead. Many young Catholics, in our newfound zeal and (good) desire to reclaim and live anew the ancient Catholic faith that has so long fallen on deaf ears and hard hearts, use words like 'Protestant' as if they were cuss-words. That is not only uncharitable, but self-convicting. If Protestants are bad for having less truth, what are we who behave less charitably? If we would convince others of the goodness of the Christian faith as held by the Catholic Church, we might think about listening more closely to the heart of Christ.

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