Allocution January 31, 4nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Today 31 January, fourth Sunday of the Liturgical Ordinary Time and Feast of St. John Bosco, this biblical text of the holy Gospel according to St Mark, chapter one, verses 21 to 28, is heard in all the Catholic churches of the world.
Father Junior Antonio, parish priest of New Peace, tells us this biblical text.
If in the Gospel of Mark last Sunday, we attended the beginning of Jesus’ preaching, with the proclamation that time had been fulfilled and the kingdom of God was near, today the strength of that kingdom, which here and now manifests itself in the Good News of the full salvation offered by Jesus Christ, comes to us today.
The Lord presents Himself to us as the Messiah, the Master, the Prophet, who speaks from God to humanity. He himself said “even John, all the prophets and the Law were prophecies.” Of all this, He is fulfillment. The kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus has already arrived. He is himself and manifests himself before God with the Word that proclaims the people from God.
If Moses promised for the future a prophet he would preach in god’s name, we can now say that he has already arrived. He is the new and definitive Moses, He is the incarnate Word of the Father who has entered this earth to give in this world, also through us, fruits of new life. “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly, ” said the Lord.
Jesus perfectly fulfills what God announced of the future prophet, which we read in the first reading of Deuteronomy. “I’ll put my words in his mouth, and he’ll tell you what I send you.” How many times did Jesus say, especially according to the Gospel of St. John, that what He taught was what He had heard from the Father. He is the living word that God directs to mankind.
And what is that word of God’s life on this Sunday? That the powers of evil do not have the last word, that God always makes his way and leads us down the paths of life that He is and humbly manifests in His walk with us, at our side, entering our realities to revitalize them. What is the good news of the savior, who delivers us? The deliverance of evil, of sin, of death. He has come to set us free with the freedom of God’s children, to free us from all the unclean spirits that rob us of hope, joy, which enclose and bury life. That’s why the Pope invites us again and again not to let ourselves be robbed of hope. The Lord also revealed to us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Today the Evangelist Mark does not present Jesus freeing a man who was possessed by an unclean spirit. Everyone is stunned by the miraculous strength of Jesus, so it is no wonder that his fame soon spread everywhere. The kingdom of God among us that Jesus integrated is not only a new Word, a teaching different from that of the teachers of the law, but his incarnate Word that discovers a powerful force that fights evil and overcomes it. It is therefore a life-giving, saving Word, a divine word with a human face: Jesus Christ.
Jesus preaches the kingdom with deeds, that is, with a word of authority. Fighting the alienating and oppressive power of the evil one, does not stay in the religious sphere, but encompasses all dimensions of the human being. With his activity he wants no one to be marginalized by ignorant, by devilish… It welcomes and humanizes everyone by confronting everyone with their demons so that they begin to know and feel people.
It is significant that mark’s first miracle is precisely the liberation of a possessed, victory against the forces of evil. The Bible shows the tendency to interpret all evil as a result of sin or the influence of the evil one, that is, the devil. But the Gospel sometimes distinguishes very well what is sickness and what is diabolical possession, as in the dialogue established in today’s passage, between the spirit that tormented that poor man and Jesus, the saint of God. Jesus treats a sick person differently than a possessed person. But whatever that spirit of evil, the gospel assures them that Jesus comes as the strongest, and he is about to overcome these forces of evil. It does so not by following the formulas and spells of the exorcists of the time, but by a blunt order. “Shut up and get out of Him.” So is this with authority.
What surprises the inhabitants of Cafarnaum most is that he teaches with authority, not like the other teachers and scribes. Speak with conviction and freeness about the rabbinical schools of that time. In addition, his words are accompanied by prodigious works.
Today, eager for such good news, of a respite, of new life in the face of widespread death, in the face of the suspicion of others, before fanaticisms, Jesus bursts. He’s always new. He is the permanent novelty of the Father who in the spirit renews us. Pope Francis recalled this when he said particularly to young people in his apostolic exhortation Christus vivit: “Christ lives, our hope, and He is the most beautiful youth in this world. Everything He touches becomes young, becomes new, comes alive (…) He’s in you, He’s with you and he never leaves. As much as you walk away, there’s the Risen One, calling you and waiting for you to start over. When you feel old from sadness, grudges, fears, doubts, or failures, He will be there to restore strength and hope to you.”
As Christians of God’s people we participate in Christ’s prophetic mission. On the day of our baptism the priest anointed us by praying: “Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has delivered you from sin and given new life by the water and spirit, will bring you together with the crism of salvation, that you may become part of his people and be forever a member of Christ, priest, prophet, and king.” To which each baptized person or his family answered: Amen.
This Amen committed us forever to the Lord and to the Church we form. We must convey to others the voice of God, as requested by the Bishops of Latin America in Aparecida when they exhorted us to look at our reality as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ so that in Him our peoples may have life. And particularly, we Cubans, 23 years ago when St. John Paul II visited us, invited us: “The works of evangelization that take place in various environments, such as missions in neighborhoods and peoples without churches, must be cared for and encouraged so that they can develop and serve not only Catholics, but all the Cuban people to know Jesus Christ and love Him.” But first, the true prophet must humbly listen to God, for we do not preach ourselves, but to God. If Jesus spoke with authority, it is because He spoke from God, with which He remained in perfect harmony. We should all be somehow exorcists, that is, liberators, because evil still exists, whatever it is called, follow those forces that act within each person and lead him to do what he would not have to do. We are not asked to perform miracles, but we do fight evil in ourselves, to also contribute to others being freed from all possession that can enslave them. With our timely word and, above all, with our attitude of closeness, do we free someone from their ills, communicate hope to those who come to us, and help overcome the demons of pessimism or worldly criteria, or more or less entrenched habits, and help to be more free within? We can honestly say every time we pray our Father for us and for everyone what Jesus taught us: “Free us from evil.” Which can also be translated, deliver us from the evil one.
With the incarnation of the Son of God, the fulness of times has come and the promise made of a new prophet like Moses has been fulfilled. Jesus is the new Moses. He brings a new teaching and authority that is not claimed, but won with what Pope Francis calls: true power. I mean, the service. The fame of Jesus Christ goes through the centuries and the spirit of the Risen One blesses tomorrow. For his throne shall remain forever, his kingdom shall have no end, and the forces of evil shall never prevail. The Church is grounded in this faith, as Msgr. Adolphus said in the ENEC, we have hope and we want to give word of hope to those who ask for it, those who need it, those who have set their sights only on the ground as a limit to their human aspirations, and feel like they are missing something.
We have neither the first nor the last word of everything, but we believe that there is a first and final word of everything, and we wait in the One who has it, the Lord. In Him we look with serene confidence at the ever uncertain future, because we know that tomorrow, before the sun rises, the providence of God will have risen upon Cuba and over the whole world.
Today the Church also celebrates the Feast of St. John Bosco. Many people studied in the schools of Salesian parents and nuns. These people remember the teachings of Don Bosco. He told his sons and daughters, “Without familiarity love is not shown, and without this demonstration there can be no confidence. Whoever wants to be loved needs to make it look like he loves. Jesus Christ became small with the little ones and carried our weaknesses. Behold the master of familiarity! The teacher you see only in the chair is a teacher and no more, but if you go to recess with the youth you become a brother. Who knows he’s loved, he loves. And whoever is loved has everything, especially of young people. This trust establishes an electric current between young and old. Hearts open and make their needs known and manifest their flaws. This love makes parents and teachers endure the fatigues, discomforts, ingratitudes, nuisances, deficiencies, negligence of young people. Jesus Christ did not break the broken cane or shut down the smoking wick. He’s our model.”
Many parents think their children are un arranged, many people say that young people have no arrangement. But Don Bosco never got tired.
The example of a frog can help us continue our teaching to those we love.
“A popular holiday was organized a curious contest. A gift was placed on top of a very raised stick that had been joined with oil to make the climb more difficult. Those who tried to reach the top could slip and fall to the ground. More than fifty frogs were scored in the contest, as the prize consisted of a jaba full of succulent mosquitoes that the winner would eat. Amid the screams and music, the frogs began to rise. Gradually, some of them slipped and fell to the ground. They were getting less and less. The public was telling them to stop trying, which was very difficult: ‘Come down now, they’re going to fall and they’ll hurt each other. And the higher they go up, the worse.’ Most of the frogs, between the tiredness and discouragement of those screams, decided to return to the ground. There were only a few left and the screams continued: ‘Come down at once, you can’t get there.’ Saddened, one of the two remaining frogs returned to the ground. Gradually, the only one who remained on the stick managed to reach the top of it. And with a smiley face he ate all the mosquitoes in the boar. When she returned to the ground, journalists who had come to interview her were very surprised to see that she was not answering her questions. Then they realized she was deaf.”
Faced with the difficulties that others propose to us, to teach young people let us become deaf and continue our teaching in the style of Don Bosco. “When I was told that what I wanted to do was impossible, it was too late, I had just finished it.”
The Pope, after the prayer of the Angelus last Sunday, said “One of the great gifts of our time is the rediscovery of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church, at all levels. The Bible has never been as accessible to everyone as it is today: in all languages and now also in audiovisual and digital formats. Saint Jerome, of whom I recently remembered the XVI centenary of death, says that those who ignore Scripture ignore Christ. And vice versa, it is Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, dead and risen, that opens our minds to the understanding of the scriptures. This is especially true in the Liturgy, but also when we pray alone or in groups, especially with the Gospel and with the Psalms. I thank the parishes and encourage them in their constant efforts to educate them to listen to the Word of God. May we never lack the joy of sowing the gospel! And I repeat again: let us have the custom, let us have a habit of always carrying a small Gospel in your pocket, in your purse, so that you can read it during the day at least three or four verses. The gospel always with us.”
What does the word Hallelujah mean? Answer 78624000.
Good God the Father who created us with health and prepared us to preserve it, bless us with the health of soul and body.
Lord Jesus Christ, who healed so many sick people, deliver us from all kinds of epidemics. Give charity, mercy, and patience to those who care for the sick.
Holy Ghost enlightens health personnel to find the remedy for this disease so they can make everyone happy.
Saint Mary of Charity accompanies your sick children so that they never lack the closeness of the family, the Church and society.
Blessed Father Olallo Valdés, who faced so many diseases and epidemics, pray for all of us that, healthy and sick, we may be one heart and one soul. Amen.
And the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, descend upon all the sick, upon us, upon our families, and forever. Amen
Below we offer in full the allocution of the Cardinal and Archbishop of Havana, Juan de la Caridad García.