EPIPHANY 4; YEAR B  SUNDAY 1 FEB 2015

DEUT 18:15-20    PS. 111.    REV 12:1-5A    MARK 1:21-28.

The reading from Revelation is a gift to those who love the Blessed Virgin Mary but we can leave that over for tomorrow, Candlemas day. In fact all three of today’s readings are intensely interesting. It is difficult to keep a sermon within manageable bounds. In these post Epiphany Sundays, we see the Lord’s ministry unfolding rapidly. 

In the Old Testament reading, Moses is quoted as saying: The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me. Jesus is indeed The Prophet and the new Moses. Here Deuteronomy seems to speak of more than one prophet but by the time of Our Lord, Judaism was interpreting Moses’ words eschatologically, to mean a single Messianic prophet, at the end of time; hence rather urgent questions like “Are you The Prophet?”.

In the first New Testamemt reading, it speaks of the woman clothed with the Sun. This passage owes a lot to folklore in the pagan ancient world. A usurper, who is doomed to be killed by a prince, attempts to cheat the fates by killing the prince at birth. The prince is miraculously snatched from his clutches and hidden away until old enough to claim his inheritance.

Here the woman is indeed the Mother of the Messiah, personified Wisdom, Spouse of God. She is herself the Messianic community, the twelve stars refer to the twelve tribes. Mother Zion, church members are her other children; she is the Jerusalem above who is our mother. All this can and has been applied to Our Lady herself but the actual text itself doesn’t speak of her, although it can be applied to her. Her Son had indeed to be snatched away from the hands of another Dragon, the Wicked Herod and had to live a hidden life for quite a few years, in fact until he had  grown into his inheritance of Wisdom as a mature Man, very likeness and image of the Father.

So in the Gospel reading, having called his disciples, having picked his team, Jesus begins to reveal Who He is to the world, God in Man made manifest. Not, as at first, a rather limited manifestation just  to shepherds and those three wise men from the East but openly, in the face of the sun, to his people, Israel . He teaches with authority; how could it be otherwise, if He is The Prophet? Jesus himself, Son of God, Son of Man, coming to share our earthly existence, spells the end of the rule of demons. The y knew that he had come to defeat them, once and for all. The y shrieked and can still shriek but, since Calvary , they no longer have authority. The world has been claimed by the powerful and loving authority of God in Jesus, who tells us at the cost of His life, at the cost of our lives, to love our enemies. Since the end of the Second World War, if not much much earlier, it becomes increasing clear that commandment is an absolute one and without it the world, the world created by God, has no future.

       Antony Grant CR