Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Upper Room Liturgy - Sunday January 28, 2018

Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP, and Dave Debonis led the Upper Room Liturgy on Sunday, January 28, 2018. Dave's Homily starter based on Mark's Gospel and a reading by Michel Morwood is posted below.

First Reading" Excerpts from It’s Time, by Michael Morwood 

Divine Presence is embedded in our existence and conduct. It is a Presence writ deep into the human psyche, as it is written deep into every particle, atom, and cell. The lesson Jesus was trying to get across is that the Holy One is always at work in the human community.
Jesus was never concerned with getting people into heaven, but rather he consistently preached the “kingdom of God” here and now.

It is time to see Jesus and his preaching in the context of Divine Presence here on earth, and always active in the human community. 

These are the inspired words of Michael Morwood, a disciple of Jesus.

Dave Debonis' Homily Starter

When Kathie and I first read the Gospel reading for today, we both had the same reaction: “What are we going to do with this?”

But with some thought, discussion, and reading of some published commentaries, we found, as so many times is the case here in the Upper Room, some messages that can guide us on our journey to living the gospels.

First, note that in the gospel reading Mark uses the word “authority” twice: those being taught by Jesus state that Jesus taught “with an authority that was unlike their religious scholars.” And later, after the exorcism, they ask: “Who is this? A new teaching and with such authority!” Scholars note that the word “authority” used in this way actually means “freedom” or “independence.” Where did such a freedom come from? Jesus was not a religious scholar or a scribe or a Pharisee. He was not an expert on Jewish law. No, his freedom came from his knowledge that he was teaching a new way based not on learning laws, rules and traditions, but rather based on love. Jesus’ confidence in delivering his message, which Mark states left his listeners “spellbound,” came from knowing the truth of his message.

Taking this one step further, the authority that Jesus possessed gave him power. Not the kind of power that would be possessed by a King or a political or military person, but rather the power of a new way of thinking and living; a power that was disruptive to the status quo; a power used not for the benefit of oneself, but rather to serve humanity.

But what about the exorcism? How could that possibly be relevant to us today? There are different ways to look at this. First, just as the unclean spirit seeks to control a person, the Pharisees seek control of the Jews by requiring strict adherence to their rules and laws. Jesus sets them all free with a new message.

Second, Kathie and I both agree that this story is an opportunity for each of us to think about those things we carry inside us which control or limit our ability to share the gospel message. Maybe it is fear that the price will be too high. Or perhaps the fear is that we are not good enough, not smart enough or not strong enough. But as Kathy said to me during our discussion, the only thing that Jesus had was love—that’s it. We have that same thing and yes, we can do what Jesus did.

What are the things inside you that need to be expelled so that you can live out the gospel message? And how can each of us be sensitive to those false and limiting beliefs in others and help cast them out by reminding our brothers and sisters that they are a spark of the Divine. And as we do this, we will speak with an authority and power that comes from those who know that they have been called.

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