Reflection by Bishop Enrique Díaz: “Lord, may we not be deaf to your voice”

IV Ordinary Sunday


Mons. Enrique Díaz Díaz shares with the readers of Exaudi his reflection on the Gospel of this Sunday, January 28, 2024, titled: “Lord, may we not be deaf to your voice”


Deuteronomy 18, 15-20: “I will give you a prophet and I will put my words in his mouth

Psalm 94: “Lord, may we not be deaf to your voice

I Corinthians 7, 32-53: “The single man and the single woman worry about the things of the Lord

Saint Mark 1, 21-28: “He did not teach like the scribes, but like one who has authority

We often hear that today we lack leaders who bring the community together, who unite amid diversity, who inspire hope, and who “have authority.” Today the liturgy questions us and helps us discover who a prophet is: the man of “the word” given by God for the good of his people. Not someone who attributes this task to himself, but a gift from God: “I will give you a prophet, and I will put my words in his mouth.” Bearer of a message that is not his, but he is not a simple repeater of words, but a witness who receives the message, deepens it, makes it his own, assimilates it and gives it as food to his people. A prophet must be faithful to the message, sometimes with his own pain and dedication, in the midst of misunderstandings, and will frequently provoke crises and questions, but also lights and directions. And Jesus is presented to us in the Gospel of Mark as the prophet par excellence, not only equal to Moses, but who speaks as one who has authority, who speaks the last and definitive word of God and who reveals to them his immense love.

Now ready, Jesus, surrounded by his disciples, undertakes an intense activity with which he announces and manifests the presence of the Kingdom as good news. The first actions that Saint Mark tells us have two very strong dimensions: teaching with authority and liberating from all oppression. The chosen place is Capernaum, a small city on the shores of Lake Galilee, a crossroads of cultures, a border and cosmopolitan point, which will become especially endearing as it becomes the center of his operations. He teaches in the synagogue, in the ordinary place of proclamation of the word of the Law of Israel. There his word resonates new and full of authority. Why do people say that he taught as one who had authority and not as the scribes? Not because he commands a lot or displays wisdom and power, but because “he has in his mouth the words of his Father” that give life and salvation. His authority springs from his very dedication, his service and his love. His word announces Good News and touches the heart. The scribes teach the law very well, but a law that enslaves and leaves the demon-possessed person tied to the impure man. Jesus delivers and heals, and gives a new interpretation of the law by performing a healing on the Sabbath.

Today we are witnessing a serious crisis of credibility of authority and its word, in political, social, economic, family and even religious life. And since authority is lost because it is not supported by facts, they want to impose it with shouts, threats, punishments and force. Thus, we find everything from parents who demand obedience “just because I command”, to armies that with death and destruction show “the authority” of the powerful. In light of Jesus’ authority, what should all of us who in some way have authority have to rethink? How can the words of a teacher, a father, a priest or a ruler be full of authority? As long as our words are not supported by love and life-giving actions, they will remain hollow and empty.

Much has been said about the miracles of Jesus, and it has been questioned whether really every time it is said that Jesus expelled a demon we should understand it in the true sense of a satanic possession. We must remember that in those times all illness was seen as a punishment and as a work of the devil, and that healing from him could not only be seen in terms of physical healing, but as a true liberation from an evil power. All evil and all illness enslave and bind the person, and Christ comes to free the whole person. So those that Jesus performs will not always be exorcisms, but all his signs will be liberation from evil and oppression. As Christians who try to follow Jesus, we must translate this “miracle” to our time and circumstances. The challenge in our days is to do “miracles” that, like that of Jesus, humanize, dignify and liberate. We need to expel the demons of poverty, lies and corruption, we need to heal our society of ambition and materialism, we need an open fight against drugs and violence. We need to rehabilitate man and make him new. These would be the words of authority that each of us would have to speak to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is among us.

Sometimes we seem to respond to the presence of Jesus with the same words that the demons said. They recognized his authority, but they did not want his presence, and that is why they said: “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to finish us off?” And certainly the word of Jesus is demanding and reveals the heart, but it is the only one that will give us true life and freedom. It purifies and heals, but we have to open our hearts to it. On this day, let us think: how are we welcoming this word of Jesus? How do we exercise authority? What “miracles” do we do that dignify people and make the presence of the Kingdom in our midst credible? Without fear, with sincerity and boldness, because Christ is with us.

Good Father, grant us to welcome with an open heart the words of your Son and translate them into “miracles” that make credible the presence of his Kingdom in our midst. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.