St. Matthew's Episcopal Church Maple Glen, Pennsylvania

Readings and Reflections for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Deuteronomy 18:15-20 
Psalm 111
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Mark 1:21-28

Dear Friends,

Deuteronomy 18:15-20. Surrounded by many nations who practiced witchcraft, consulted mediums, or cast fortunes in various ways, Moses reminds the people of Israel that the Lord raises up prophets to guide them, just as Moses himself was led by God to guide Israel.  God takes the initiative and provides true spiritual leadership to his people, in contrast to people taking the initiative through various human methods and practices. And woe to those who abuse the calling of God!

Mark 1:21-28: Mark begins the story of Jesus’ life and ministry with the authority that was seen in his teaching, and the power to heal and free people from unclean forces (spirits).  The unclean spirits know who Jesus is – the Holy One of God – but he is not ready for his ministry to “get political” and so silences them.

1 Corinthians 8:1-13. Paul takes on the controversy in this community over food that has been offered in non-Christian idol worship.  “Strong” Christians, who know that idols are nothing, felt free to eat as they chose.  Paul however, challenges their lack of love for their “weaker” brothers and sisters who are troubled by the practice.  Far more important than “knowing better” and upsetting others, is love that considers how to build up and bear with others who may be weak. Paul refuses to eat in a controversial way that gives unnecessary harm to the less well informed conscience of these weaker believers.

Comment:  The people hearing Jesus recognized in him an authority that was qualitatively different from the scholars and religious leaders of their time. Mark’s gospel makes clear there is one place and person to whom we should go – the one who has authority from God to teach, heal, and save – Jesus, the Holy One of God.  It is easy for me to say, “Jesus is my Lord,” and say he is the authority for my life. But how do I work this out every day?  How does my life show this?  I know that I need to place myself, and then “re-place” myself under the authority of Jesus Christ, again and again, more and more deeply, day after day!  If I really do this, it should be evident to the people around me.

David S. Robinson, Rector

Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church
Maple Glen, PA 19002