"Do Penance or Perish"

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

7 February 2021

“And he was preaching in their synagogues, and in all Galilee, and casting out devils. Mk.1:38

In today’s Gospel from St. Mark (1:29-39), we see a continuation of last week’s reading where Jesus is beginning His public ministry to the Jewish people. The whole town of Capharnaum is astonished with His preaching as He preaches with authority. He also proves the truth of His words with miracles. Never in the scriptures in the Old Testament had a prophet or holy man, expelled a demon. St. Mark, especially, in his list of Jesus’ miracles continually alludes to how Jesus expelled the demons from the many who came to Him. Jesus’ intention is to reveal His identity slowly to the people and prepare them for the kingdom of God. That is why He must go to the neighbouring villages: And he was preaching in their synagogues, and in all Galilee, and casting out devils.” Mk. 1:38 This also is why Jesus will not let the demons reveal His identity: “And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were troubled with divers diseases; and he cast out many devils, and he suffered them not to speak, because they knew him.” Mk. 1:33-4 The demons certainly would not do anything to help the mission of Jesus. Their speaking about Jesus to the Jews would appeal more to the worldly benefits that Jews would receive. This is why Jesus forbade them to speak, and this is why He needed to preach to the neighbouring villages about the spiritual kingdom of God and not the worldly messianism of deliverance from Rome or earthly pleasure.

Suffering Is Not a Punishment

In today’s First Reading from the Book of Job (7:1-4, 6-7), we see how the scriptures answers the universal question of man’s sufferings. Traditionally, the Jews held the belief that human suffering was a punishment for sin. Job replies to those who question him about his sins by saying that he was innocent of any misdeeds. Earlier in the Book of Job, we had learned that God in order to test Job’s goodness had allowed the devil to tempt him. Satan had said that it was easy for Job to be good as he was blessed in life abundantly. So Satan was able to cause evil to happen to Job: he lost his fortune, his family, his lands and his livestock. In today’s reading, we also see that he was afflicted with terrible sores which make his nights “wearisome” (Job 7:3). The author of the Book of Job does answer the question of evil correctly as it was not always a punishment for sin to which Job’s innocent life testified. Even Job did not understand the redeeming qualities of suffering of which Jesus would preach later in the New Testament. The Jews were looking for deliverance from suffering by the Messiah who would deliver them from oppression especially by the Romans. This is why Jesus did not want to stay in Capernaum as the Jews were looking for more miracles. The “Good News” that Jesus wanted to proclaim was spiritual; He wanted the Jews to repent for the Kingdom of God was near. He wanted to free the Jews from the bondage of sin and the devil.

Deliverance from Sin

In the Second Reading ( I Cor. 9: 16-19, 22-23) St. Paul makes himself all things to all men to win them for Christ: “And I do all things for the gospel's sake: that I may be made partaker thereof.” I Cor. 9: 23 Jesus came to save sinners and this is why He preached a gospel of repentance: No, I say to you; but except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish. Lk. 13:6 Jesus knew that those who commit mortal sins lose sanctifying grace and belong to the devil. Usually, the devil does not reveal himself in a soul; however, in time, his proud nature makes his show his power, As all thoughts are either permitted or allowed by God, the soul is so guilt-ridden in his thoughts that only true repentance will deliver him (her) from their sins. God will allow this to happen so that souls will cry out for deliverance and protection. Their conscience will trouble the: “A guilty conscience needs no accuser.” Souls in the state of mortal sin need to repent of their sins by making a good confession. This is why it is so important for Catholics to confess their sins. They need to repent or else they will be in the hands of the Satan for all eternity in hell:: “...but except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish. Lk. 13:8

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