January 9, 2018
by Angela Maynard
Creighton University's Student Health Services
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 306

1 Samuel 1:9-20
1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd
Mark 1:21-28

Praying Ordinary Time

We are moving from beautiful celebrations culminating with the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas day to Mark’s gospel in which Baby Jesus quickly started to show his authority.  Mark describes his teaching style at authoritative.  He’s not preaching on something written by the scribes.  He’s speaking from his heart.  Not only does Mark point out the quality of authority, but he illustrates the healing power of Jesus. 

In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!"
Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!"
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.

The people in the synagogue were amazed, and the story of Jesus spread throughout the region.  While this is a wonderful story, I’m sad that the reading has veered from the everyday humanness that we saw these past months.  We truly saw Mary as a Mom, and Joseph as a Dad.  We were told of the difficulties that were encountered by Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus.  These difficulties help me to see the human side of these blessed people.  It’s so ironic to me that those who were chosen to bring the Son of God into the world received no special treatment at all. The why’s of this were part of my Advent preparation—so that’s discussion for next Advent.

This passage takes me back to middle school English class.  I believe it was there that I started to learn about foreshadowing in literature.

Recall the literary definition of foreshadowing: Foreshadowing is a literary device in which a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story. Foreshadowing often appears at the beginning of a story, or a chapter, and helps the reader develop expectations about the coming events in a story.

Mark seems to be well versed in the use of this literary tool.  He describes the man with unclean spirit as convulsing — this would be a very messy scene and it occurred out in public.  Jesus commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man and it obeyed.  This would be quite a story to retell.  I can only imagine how sensational this story might be today.  In one brief passage St. Mark gives us a hint of the coming victory over evil and death that we will celebrate on Easter Sunday.

Jesus came upon an ugly situation and took care of it. Consider the times Jesus came to the aid of those on the margins.  Just for today reflect upon the extraordinary about Jesus that caused so many to know about and be impressed by him. How did he become so extraordinary given his humble beginnings?  What Christian qualities do I possess? Most importantly, how can I go about putting those qualities into action?  How can I provide comfort to those who are suffering and on the margins—not just during the holiday season, but throughout the year? 

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