My dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!
When he began his ministry of preaching and teaching Our Blessed Lord had a startling impact. Those who listened to His words and observed His actions had never witnessed anything like it.
The Evangelist Mark relates in today’s gospel that the Lord’s teaching had a freshness and originality to which they were unaccustomed and which caught their attention and imagination like no other. We might say that they were blown away by it!
The same Lord Jesus speaks to us in the Scriptures Sunday after Sunday. His words remain always fresh and life-giving, because He Himself is the Word of God, and is truth itself. What is required of us, as Christ says elsewhere, is to have ears to hear.
In our first reading from the book of Deuteronomy the Lord God promised Moses that another prophet would come who will speak God’s words and to whom the people must listen. That prophet is Christ, sent by God and come to us in the fullness of time, who has words of life for us in the twenty-first century.
We are inundated each day by countless words, ideas and images of all kinds, but they are transitory and fleeting, whereas the word of Christ remains ever vigorous and energising for His people. Like those people long ago, through carefully listening, will we allow ourselves to be startled and come away deeply impressed, having just listened to the priceless words Christ speak to us?
The people of Christ’s day, witnessing his actions, realised that with him an unheard of power for good had appeared among them. Demonic possession and the sinister power of evil which can possess and destroy a person was something to be greatly feared – it still is!
St. Mark recounts how the demons recognised that one more powerful than they had come, and was in fact the Holy One of God.
Hostile and wicked powers were now confronted by a higher authority, that of the Son of God in the flesh. Throughout his public life the Lord Jesus would demonstrate His divine power in so many ways, and which would culminate in his destruction of the evil of sin and death through His glorious resurrection from the dead. Let us open ourselves to the touch of that divine power each time we come together to pray and worship at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If we do so, we will have nothing to fear.
The Fathers of the Church were fond of describing the Church as a ship, a kind of Noah’s ark, which brings those on board across the sea of life, with all its dangers and temptations, safely to the harbour of our final home with God.
By listening carefully to Christ’s words and allowing him to nourish us with his sacraments, we will ensure for ourselves a safe passage across life’s often turbulent seas. As we hear the story in today’s Mass of Jesus’s words and deeds, may we too discover “that here is a teaching that is new, and with authority behind it!”
Until next week – Let us pray for each other and may Almighty God protect and bless you,
As ever in Christ our Lord,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster