"I will raise up for them a prophet!" [Deut. 18:18] What a very powerful Bible verse! Good morning my friends, my brothers and sisters in Jesus. Today, we are celebrating the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
In the First Reading, we heard of God's promise to Moses that
He would raise up for us a prophet. This is only one of God's many
promises that were made and are found in the Old Testament, each of
them having been fulfilled through Jesus Christ as revealed in the New
About five weeks ago, we celebrated the arrival of the
promised prophet in the incarnation of God through Christ. In a
few weeks, we will celebrate the resurrection of the greatest of
all prophets, the Lord Jesus.
When reference is made to Jesus as the prophet, it must be
understood that the word "prophet" in the days of Moses meant a
"mediator" between God and man. Moses was a mediator. He spoke to
the people on behalf of God and spoke to God on behalf of the
people. Based on that particular function as mediator between God
and man, the Lord God promised to raise a prophet just like Moses
who would be a Mediator between God and man. This is seen in Jesus
who is the Mediator between God and man. Now, "There is one
Mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human,
who gave himself a ransom for all - this was attested at the right
time." [1 Tim. 2:5-6]
The word prophet is symbolic, meaning the promised Messiah.
While the people waited for a great prophet to deliver them, the
Heavenly Father sent them someone who was greater than a prophet,
His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. When Jesus was asked if He
was the prophet, He answered, 'No!' [Jn. 1:21] At the same time,
the people continued to view Jesus as the promised prophet because
He fulfilled all the promises of God the Father through His
incarnation as God on earth. [Jn. 6:14, 7:40]
Even St. Peter, when he spoke in Solomon's Portico, he
referred to Jesus as being the prophet who was raised by God in
fulfillment of the promise made in Deuteronomy 18:18. [Acts 3:22]
Stephen spoke in the same way of Jesus when he spoke to the Council
[Acts 7:37] before he was stoned to death. [Acts 7:58-60]
Now, while Moses was only a prophet, not being God, there are
parallels between him and Jesus. As Jesus had a unique
relationship with God the Father, Moses also had a unique
relationship with the Lord, God speaking to Moses face to face.
[Exo. 33:11] Never has there arisen a prophet in Israel like
Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. [Deut. 34:10]
Next to Jesus who performed the most and greatest miracles,
comes Moses. "Moses was unequaled for all the signs and wonders
that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against
Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land and for all the
mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses
performed in the sight of Israel." [Deut. 34:11-2]
The Lord God promised to Moses that He would raise up for the
people a prophet like him [Moses] from among their own people. He
would put His words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to
the people everything that He commands. [Deut. 18:18] These words
echo the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John where it says, "...
The word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent
me." [Jn. 14:24, 17:8, 17:14]
Concluding God's message that is found in the First Reading,
Moses said that if anyone does not heed the words that the prophet
speaks in the Name of God, God Himself will hold accountable.
[Deut. 18:19] Reference to our accountability to God is frequently
found in the New Testament. [1 Pet. 4:5; Heb. 13:17] One Bible
passage says, "So then, each of us will be accountable to God."
At the same time, if any prophet speaks in the name of other
gods, or speaks in the Name of God a word that He has not commanded
the prophet to speak - that prophet shall die. [Deut. 18:20] A
fulfillment of this promise is found in the First Book of Kings
where the 450 prophets of Baal were killed when Elijah challenged
their god against our God, the one and only true God. [1 Kgs.
Reviewing today's Second Reading from the First Letter to the
Corinthians, it is a follow-up of last Sunday's Second Reading.
Last Sunday, we heard that the virgins deal with the world as
though they had no dealings with it. [1 Cor. 7:25, 31] They are
detached from the world, living in the hope of things to come.
This week, St. Paul tells the believers to lead the life that
the Lord has assigned them, to which God has called them. The Holy
Spirit inspired St. Paul to tell the believers that God wants them
to be free from anxieties.
The virgin, the unmarried man and woman, are called to be
anxious about the affairs of the Lord, on how to please the Lord so
they may be holy in body and spirit. Those who are married
experience anxieties regarding the affairs of the world, how to
please their spouse, their interest being divided between God and
To live free of anxieties, those who are married must be
reasonable, not placing any restraint upon themselves. They have
to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord. At the
same time, being caught up in the affairs of the world, they have
a commitment towards their spouse and their family. They must not
neglect this calling for the Spirit of God dwells within everybody.
Showing love towards others in obedience to the Commandments, a
Christian can enjoy a living faith in Christ that is different from
the religious life but still very pleasing in the eyes of God.
When God promised to raise a prophet for the people, this
promise was not just for those who are virgins but also for those
who are married. This proof is found in the Sacrament of Marriage
that is Sacred in the eyes of God.
Moving on to today's Gospel, we heard that Jesus entered the
synagogue and taught in Capernaum. Those who heard Him were
astounded at His teachings because He taught with authority, not as
the scribes. Here, the authority of Jesus is compared to a rabbi
who has the power to impose a decision with a binding authority
versus a scribe who cannot do so because he is a teacher of a lower
The authority of Jesus is seen throughout the New Testament
where He overthrows the rule of Satan, the Prince of this world, by
establishing the invisible Kingdom of God on earth.
Then, we heard that there was in the presence of Jesus a man
with an unclean spirit. The man 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."
Two things stand out in this incident. First of all, the
first miracle performed by Jesus is an exorcism. This is affirmed
by the word "epitiman" that is used here to say "rebuke", the word
also meaning "to exorcise." The first miracle of an exorcism is a
sign that evil is destroyed in the Divine Presence of Jesus.
Secondly, the evil spirit that possessed the man recognised
Jesus as the Messiah, He who is anointed with God's Spirit and who
possesses power over evil spirits. The evil spirit calls the name
of Jesus twice, first as Jesus of Nazareth and then as the Holy One
of God. While Jesus had been trying to hide His true identity as
the Messiah from the crowd, but not from His true followers, the
demons recognized Him and identified His true identity in public.
As we heard earlier, Jesus commanded the unclean spirit to be
silent and to come out of the man. Once that happened, those who
were present were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A
new teaching - with authority! He commands even the unclean
spirits, and they obey him." The people had never seen such great
power, nor ever heard of it since the days of Moses. The authority
of Jesus went beyond performing miracles in the visible world. He
had the authority over the invisible world as much as over the
visible one. It is no wonder that the people considered Jesus to
be the promised prophet!
Summarizing today's Holy Readings, in Jesus, we have seen the
fulfillment of God's promise to send a prophet like Moses. Through
St. Paul who was inspired by the Holy Spirit, we have heard that
God wants us to be free of anxieties in our calling, especially
those who are married. Through Jesus, we have heard of his
authority that reaches far beyond miraculous manifestations in this
As we reflect this week upon this spiritual knowledge and
understanding of the Word of God, let us remember the calling that
each one of us has received as children of God through the
Sacrament of Baptism. Let us answer that calling by living our
vocations without anxieties, placing our faith, hope and trust in
Jesus who has all authority as the only begotten Son of God.
Finally, let us be thankful to God for providing us with the
opportunity to hear His Word today when there are so many
throughout the world, in the hospitals, in the senior lodges and in
the prisons who do not have this opportunity because of the
shortage of priests.