Fourth Sunday After Epiphany (Year B)
Scripture Readings*: Deuteronomy 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, Mark 1:21-28, Psalm 111
Moses said that God would bring the nation a greater Prophet (18:15), that is, Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19–26). Every prophet that arose after Moses would share in an aspect of the hope for this greater Prophet. The word “prophet” (Deut. 18:15) means one who speaks for another (Exod. 7:1–2). The biblical prophet was one who spoke forth a message for God (Deut. 18:18; cf. Jer. 1:4–7).
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Most meat that was available in the marketplace came from animals sacrificed in the temple. To the more scrupulous in the community all of this meat would be suspect. However, some Corinthians felt more mature because they were convinced that idols had no reality—“for there is but one God.” Therefore any food offered to idols was still fit to eat.
Paul stresses that “love,” not knowledge, is the key to Christian conduct. It would be better not to eat meat, even if one’s conscience allows, than to lead a fellow believer into sin.
The town of Capernaum becomes the base for Jesus’ operations. Here Jesus displays his authority, which astonishes those who encounter it, and which calls forth an immediate response. The bystanders recognize his authoritative teaching. So does the man possessed. If the crowds recognize the authority of Jesus, the supernatural world knows who he really is—the ‘Holy One of God’ (v. 24). Jesus must do battle with the forces of evil. This episode in the synagogue contains all the elements of struggle that Jesus will encounter as he makes God’s presence real among his people.
Here Is Your God
What does God look like? It’s an age-old question. Today’s readings give us a glimpse of God that causes us to look again – at God and at ourselves.
Moses’ words offer hope of a Prophet who does not strike fear into the hearts of men. His words speak of One whose voice offers reconciliation. In Paul’s words, we hear love trumping law. No matter how “lawful” our actions, they must still meet the needs of others if they are to meet with God’s approval. And in the words and actions of Jesus, we see restoration. Evil is cast out and man is made right with God.
Reconciliation. Love. Restoration. This is what is seen when God is revealed. It’s a reflection our world longs to witness.
Prayer for Epiphany – “Loving God, reveal to me Your mercy so I, in turn, may reflect Your loving mercy to a world in need. Blessed be God forever. Amen.”
*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B