Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
MK 1:21-28
January 28, 2018

I found the recent shutdown of the Federal Government very unnerving. I acknowledge that I might have been over-reacting, but still, as the weeks, then days and finally the hours passed without a resolution, I became more and more tense, questioning: What have they been doing all this time? Why has a budget become a national emergency? And I began to worry.

I began to think about all of the things we look to our Federal Government to do, and I began to worry what would happen if the machinery of government just came to a stop? True! I might have tried harder to heed St. Paul’s opening words in our Second Reading: be free of anxieties! But even though we should strive to “live above the world” so that our focus can be on spiritual things without distraction, the reality is that we do “live in the world. So, I confess to being anxious. And, quite frankly, the frustration didn’t subside when our politicians began congratulating themselves for having struck a deal…a temporary fix at best.

The entire experience left me feeling not simply worried and anxious, but less hopeful. There is an illusion that we are forging ahead as a great nation. However, we keep hearing words like “polarization” and “tribal politics.” I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that there has been a major “disconnect” in Washington D.C. that isn’t serving the “American dream.” So, I find myself straining to hear just one credible voice that speaks with authority…and I don’t care which side of the aisle that voice comes from. I am longing to be “amazed” by just one of our leaders. I really want to believe that we have entrusted our children’s future to people who are genuinely concerned about the common good of the American people…and our world. Tragically, however, things like ambition, pride, ego, greed, and even inappropriate behavior keep dashing my hope.

Whether or not you agree with this assessment of the direction in which we are heading…or for that matter, not heading…as a nation…as a world…know that this was the socio-political and spiritual climate of Israel when Jesus began His public ministry. He was very clearly frustrated with the crisis in leadership and did not mince words. >Blind guides! Wolf in sheep’s clothing! They tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All of their works are performed to be seen. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor…

And the people listened to Him!

They were amazed by this “new teaching” and they listened because He taught with authority, an authority that inspired hope, an authority that instilled confidence that the Kingdom of God is not an illusion, but a reality that we can and should…and MUST be moving towards. And the more they saw and listened, the more certain they were that this “astonishing” teaching was rooted in Jesus’s first-hand experience of God.

Maybe most important to know is this: Jesus did not come to destroy. He came to build…by driving out what was contrary to God’s will and God’s ways. He came to restore hope. He came to renew.

And His work continues.

Hope is not dead. The Kingdom of God is not an illusion, but a reality that all people of faith…all of God’s children…should insist that we continue to work towards.

This brings us back to St. Paul and our Second Reading. We should be free of anxiety, because Jesus has already initiated the Kingdom of God. And no earthly leader…no matter how powerful…can stop what Jesus Christ has set in motion. No dark force can overpower Easter Glory.

In the end…love wins! Love always wins!