Reading (1 Samuel 1:9-20) Gospel (St. Mark 1:21-28)
In the Gospel reading today, as we hear this story about Our Lord casting out the demon in the synagogue, the people are amazed because He teaches with authority and they wonder what this is. But isn’t it interesting that the demon had already spoken and acknowledged Who Jesus was, but the people did not pick up on it at all. He says, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God,” and the people completely missed it. They were amazed at the authority He had, they were amazed that the demon was obedient to Him, but they completely missed the point of Who Jesus was.
Now this took place, as we are told, in Capernaum. That is where the vast majority of the miracles of Our Lord were worked, and we recall that Our Lord later on would actually say of Capernaum, along with a couple of other towns (Corazin and Bethsaida), that if the works that had been worked in them had been worked in Sodom and Gomorrah, or in Tyre and Sidon, they would have been converted and they would have been doing penance in sackcloth. But these people watched what the Lord had done, they had witnessed it, and they refused to believe. They were just amazed and astonished, but they refused to go beyond that.
If we look also, then, at the situation for ourselves, we can say, “Well, we recognize Who Jesus is. He is the Son of God; He has all authority.” And we come to Him in prayer, but we seem to forget the same point. We do not believe, somehow, that He is going to answer our prayers. We do not trust that He is going to do what He has promised to do. Consequently, we come to prayer and we think that we have to do everything all by ourselves. Here is the One that even the people in the synagogue recognized had authority, and even the unclean spirits would obey Him, yet isn’t it interesting that we who call ourselves Catholic do not obey, that we are not amazed by His authority, that we do not even believe in it half the time. It is not, again, that we do not believe in it objectively. We will all acknowledge that, of course, He is God and He can do anything He wants. Then we turn right around and say, “But He won’t do this,” which is all just simply a matter of saying, “Subjectively, I really don’t believe. Objectively, I know He can do whatever He wants, but subjectively I don’t believe it for a minute.” That is not exactly very deep faith. We have to have confidence in the Lord.
We hear about Hannah in the first reading, coming before the Lord and pouring out her heart. When she is done, she walks away, and we are told that she no longer appeared downcast. She gave everything to the Lord, and then she just trusted that God would take care of things. So she no longer went around moping and feeling depressed and feeling sorry for herself because she trusted in the Lord. That is the kind of confidence we have to have, and the reason why we need to have the confidence is even greater. She had the God of Israel, Who is, of course, the same Father to Whom we pray. But she did not know the Son of God, she did not know the Holy Spirit, she did not know the intercession of our Blessed Lady and the saints and the angels – and we do. So how much greater should be our confidence!
That is the thing, again, that we need to see. How much do we really, truly believe in what we profess? Not objectively, because we know it is all true, but subjectively. How much are we really willing to put it into practice? As they used to say, “Put your money where your mouth is.” If you really want to say that you believe, then put it into practice. Recognize Who He is – the Holy One of God – recognize His authority, and stand in awe of Who He is and what He can do. Then put into practice what Our Lord told Thomas: Doubt no longer, but believe.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.