Fourth Sunday of the Epiphany – View from the Pews – January 28, 2024

I share with you a reflection from the Gospel reading for today, Mark 1:21-28.

In Mark 1:21-28, we hear of Jesus teaching as a voice of authority rather than as a voice of a teacher of the law. Jesus is shown as able to cast out an evil spirit from a person and many are in awe at this. What I find most important however from this passage is not the evil spirit, but rather the fact Jesus is stated as not merely a teacher of the law, but rather he commands an authority to which he speaks. We can view this sense of authority as a right to teach because Jesus knows good and evil, or we can better put it as Jesus teaches, not necessarily away from the law, but beyond the law, because he holds authority.

When we look at the differences between the Old and New Testaments, we often find that the old is centered around the idea of laws and traditions used to obey God, but in the New Testament, we find that these laws and traditions aren’t solid stone, nor are they the true determiners of how one gets into heaven. With Jesus came a new perspective on how we should live our lives, and much of it can be summarized as simply love.

To check a list that makes us seem like we are good isn’t the actual determiner if we are a good Christian let alone a good person. We are nothing without the acts of love, but also we are nothing without the effort of love. You can say all you want that you care for others, that you understand others, and that you don’t hate others, but if your actions go against these words then you are only lying to yourself. Even if you do a show-up act, without putting in the effort love requires for others, you are only living a lie and won’t be able to act correctly. Jesus shows us, as a role model, that law alone isn’t
enough and that we as people must act in love and we as people must live in that love.

Things change and things end. It’s not always happy, but it most certainly isn’t always sad. For the year 2024, I ask you all to keep in mind this: it’s okay. It’s okay to change! Nobody can expect to be the same person all their life, and nobody should. Things happen, we adapt, and we become a new version of ourselves shaped by the experiences of our lives. It’s okay if things seem overwhelming. It’s okay if you’ve put on some weight. It’s okay if you aren’t at a place you want to be.

Things get out of our control and things are crazy sometimes and life just happens, and that is okay. It’s okay if you are scared of what this will bring, after 2023 I don’t blame you. I will tell you though that God is with us always and everything will be okay.