Homily for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Your Identity in Christ give you authority even over anxiety”
Dearly Beloved, St. Paul’s opening words in today’s second reading is for our benefit, “Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties.” We know that as much as we do not want to feel anxious, it is easier said than done. Someone shared the thought that even when we have paid for a ticket to watch a movie, and the music starts to get creepy, the house in the movie is dark, the character says, “Gee, what is that scary noise upstairs? I should go up there by myself. Can I borrow your candlestick?” You can look around in the movie theater and you can count how many people are hiding behind their bucket of popcorn with their fingers in their ears. They bought a ticket to see this movie and now they want to be somewhere else. It’s an interesting human trait, in that we have, anxiety. Knowing in advance, that something is going to happen, does not necessarily buffer some of us from experiencing anxiety.
Friends, we all have anxieties that are significantly greater than what a scary movie or book can provoke. The whole world is anxious about the future. Even when there is a vaccine for the virus, there are still so many uncertainties and questions. There seems to be even more questions than answers. I too have my own questions and anxieties to deal with, in a time like this. There are people here today who are anxious about their jobs right now. There are those who are anxious about a family relationship right now. There are those who are anxious about their health or the health of a loved one right now. There are people here today who are anxious about the future right now. Are your anxieties weighing you down and making each day a struggle? The good news and the confidence we have in getting-over all forms of anxiety, does not come from us, but by the authority of Jesus, whose life we share through baptism.
Beloved, the Gospel today reminds us that the people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching, for He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. The English word “authority” in this passage from Mark is translated from the Greek word “exousia” which means power or authority comes out of one’s being.” To have authority in the biblical sense is derived from “our being,” Jesus’ power and authority therefore, comes from who He is. There is another word that is similar to “exousia,” and it can be found in our creed. In the creed, we profess that Jesus is “God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made,” and here it is, “consubstantial with the Father.” The phrase, “consubstantial” or “one in being with,” as we used to say, is the English translation of another cool Greek word, “homoousios.” Now, these two Greek words could easily roll off of the tongue, “exousia and homoousios.” Since Jesus’ authority comes out of His being, “exousia,” and Jesus is “consubstantial with the Father,” “homoousios,” it is no wonder that the people were astonished at His teachings. They were listening to a man who had the authority of God.
Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of John, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life. “What does this mean for us today? It means that, by our baptism, our nature has been united to Jesus’ nature. If we live out of the divine nature given to us in our baptism, exousia, of the one who is homoousios with the Father, then there is nothing in this world that should cause us undue anxiety. Why? This is because we have faith that Jesus has redeemed us on the cross. We have faith that death itself cannot separate us from the love of Christ. Our very nature is from God. Whatever is causing me anxiety right now, I can handle, because I have Jesus in my heart. Amen?
St. Theresa of Avila knew too well when she wrote, “Friends, let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; all things pass, God never changes! Patient endurance attains everything; whoever has God wants for nothing; God alone suffices.” What is your greatest anxiety today? Please remember and let these words echo in you this week. “Whoever has God wants for nothing; God alone suffices.”