Sunday, January 31st, 2021 | By Rev. Michael P. Hanifin
Over a week ago, we saw the inauguration of a new President and Vice President and the beginning of a new government and a change in policies, many of which sought to overturn the policies of the previous administration. Many so called “Executive Orders” were seen as a demonstration of who was in control and who is the final authority on the direction our country and its government will take.
Authority and influence are important to so many people and especially those in local, state, and federal governments. Big business, the media, and technological corporations have influenced the recent elections on state and federal levels in ways not seen before. Social media played a role in content and how it is communicated. Some question whether journalists and “Big Tech” giants should possess the power and influence that can inevitably impact the lives of everyday citizens.
Our readings on the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time remind us of the authority and influence that matters most. As we reflect on our Gospel, we recognize that by virtue of who God is as the Almighty, who possesses all authority in heaven and on earth, we are invited to give Him all authority and influence over our lives as well as the world in which we live. In the Gospel, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on the sabbath. All eyes were fixed on Him as they listened to His words and were astonished at what He had to say. Suddenly everyone’s attention shifted to a man with an unclean spirit (demon possessed) who began to question Jesus and His authority and resisted His influence over himself and all present. Jesus responded, “Quiet, come out of him!” and removed the evil spirit from the man. All were amazed at this man’s healing and deliverance from the demon’s influence and control.
Life can sometimes look like the synagogue in Capernaum. We are living as disciples of Jesus Christ when we suddenly recognize evil around us — through events in our lives, temptations we endure, or by our powerlessness over sin’s control. It can distract us, consume our attention, or even cause us to despair and become depressed. In these moments of trial, we must remember the Healer in this Sunday’s Gospel. Recall the words of Jesus, “Quiet, come out of him!” Jesus has the power and authority over evil, for He has conquered sin and death. He also has power and authority over us. And when we invite Him to reign in our hearts and to be our final authority, and when we ask him to influence the direction our life takes, He will heal us and will give us the courage and strength we need to persevere.
Today, we live in a world where people and institutions are vying for authority, influence, and control over us individually and as a nation. We are reminded that God is ultimately in control and the more He is in control the happier we will find ourselves. Jesus is the loving Healer that will work miracles in our lives if only we give Him the authority to do so and the ability to influence the direction our lives take.