Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily 2-4-21

Homily for 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 2-4-21, Year B
READINGS: 1st Heb 12:18-19, 21-24; Gospel Mk 6:7-13

Theme: Contrast of Old vs. New

Love vs. Hate, Light vs. Darkness, Good vs. Evil. These are things that oppose each other or contrast each other. Contrast, a verb, which means to compare or appraise in respect to differences, is the theme of today’s readings. There are many places in the Bible where the sacred writers contrast one thing from another. In today’s readings we see just that.

In Hebrews, the writer wants his reader to see the contrast of how the Lord manifested Himself to the Hebrews of old and Moses, and that of the current time with Jesus.

In the time of Moses, when the covenant of the law was received, God spoke to him in a burning bush or a pillar of fire. He showed his power by the use of nature in storms and wind, as in the parting of the Red Sea, and in plagues and pestilence with insects, etc. It was a time that God made sure the people would understand that it was Him doing the deeds on their behalf; and they were awesome and terrifying at times.

By contrast, in the Apostle’s time, Jesus, as the new and eternal covenant, spoke directly to the people, in plain language as one of them.

By contrast, instead of burning bushes and pillars of fire to Moses alone, Jesus speaks with a soft, kind authority to all people who will listen.

By contrast, instead of storms and wind to manifest God the Father’s show of power, Jesus the Son produces miracles of healing and raising of people from the dead as a sign of His divinity and power.

By contrast, instead of plagues and pestilence for misbehavior, Jesus provides mercy, love and forgiveness and renews the people by strengthening their faith.

In Moses’s time, people died because of their sins and most were lost.

By contrast, in Jesus’s time, Jesus died for all people’s sins in order to save us all.

In the gospel today we can make a similar contrast from the people of Moses’s time and that of Jesus’s time. In Moses’s time, the people prepared to battle the enemy in order to advance God’s plan. They trained, put on battle armor, and secured their towns and homes in preparation. In Jesus’s time, as in today’s reading, Jesus strips his people of such things and sends them out to spread God’s plan with just the clothes on their backs, armed only with healing and good words that men needed to hear.

For us in our times now, we can learn from these contrasts. The old way of anger, fighting, and self-righteousness must be put away, and instead we must put on the armor of light and truth; one of goodness, kindness, and confidence in God’s will.

Do not get me wrong, it is still a battle out there, and bringing God’s message to people and doing His will can be very difficult. We may find ourselves in contrast with friends, or even family. We may lose some people along the way and gain others. We may at times even find our path forward to be in contrast with some within the church, even some of our leaders.

It is up to us to find out the truth, that which is contained in Christ’s word and writings, what the Bible, in its entirety, says about things of the world and heaven. We must sort through all the white noise and stick to the truth in Christ and His teachings. We must do this all with just the clothes on our backs, armed with the knowledge of God’s will through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Understand the contrast between our old self and that of our new self. Have courage and understand what the truth is and go forth, not from a position of intimidation and strength (our old self), but from one of understanding and humility without judgement or prejudice (our new self) and speak boldly of Christ and His saving power so that all may experience Christ through us.

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL