Sermon for Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Feb 1st Year B).

Introduction
Readings today deal with true and false spiritual authority. The first reading affirms the authority of true prophets against those who invoke God for worldly ways. The celibacy ideal is under attack today; Paul in the second reading says that God is well served by it. Christ in the gospel teaches with authority and casts out unclean spirits where the worldly scribes fail. Lets confess ways we put worldly thinking before God’s..

Homily
I read recently of a Chinese priest who spent many years in a concentration camp there for his faith. Despite ill-treatment by ruthless atheistic authorities there, he harboured no ill-will after his eventual release on health grounds. His faith, strengthened by his horrific ordeal, remained untouched. He even learned from his experience, because his life was ruled by a higher authority than that of the communists, prophets of a worldly system who oppressed and tried to indoctrinate him.
We too should trust in faith rather than its worldly opponents. For the church embodies an apostolic tradition that comes from Christ. We should put that before the passing trends and ideologies of a godless world of which Satan is Lord. For when we experience suffering or a crisis that uncaring self-seeking and commercially ruthless world has little to offer. Its like the scribes in our gospel who could do nothing for the man with the unclean spirit. Like the false prophets of our first reading they claimed to speak for God but in fact spoke with the voice of worldly self-interest, cruelty and corruption. By contrast Jesus’s message had as its source God’s love. As St.Paul says, like priest and religious now, He gave his undivided attention to God and the needy. That saving presence is still with us. In the storms of life we’ve a safe harbour in his holy church.
Indeed the great legacy of the lord is the authority he invested in his church. At baptism we became part of that community of faith. And despite its human faults we can trust it’s teaching in matters of faith and morals. For Christ promised to be with it for all time and that the “gates of hell won’t prevail against it”. Even modern flabby devils of materialism won’t quench that light in the long run. Our church is one of undying truth.
For Peter was given the keys of the kingdom. God gave Christ all authority in heaven at the resurrection. He in turn passed that on to his church and Peter its head at his Ascension. Our house of faith is built on that rock. Lets remember that when the world makes a football of the church, attacking its moral authority and trying, like the false prophets of old, to water down the faith to suit its ways. A multitude of self-appointed Popes on TV or Radio would replace the rock as our masters. They’d impose a way of thinking often contrary to God. Lets not give in to that spiritual chaos. Rather than building on the world’s shifting sands of every new trend, a straw in every wind, lets stand by the one true church founded on the rock of Peter, maintaining the full truth in season and out. For its not the disordered babble of arbitary men twisting the truth to suit their whim, its a rock built on on the gospel and maintained by elected legitimate authority. Like a river it flows forever past every human folly. While all else fades to dust leaving us empty within, the church built on Christ the risen lord, is truth, beauty, happiness and salvation, for happiness in this world and forever and ever, amen. So God’s people safe under the timeless authority of his Christ present with the church forever, lets proudly profess our faith founded on that unshakeable rock.

Prayers of the faithful
Lets pray for the authorities in our church – Our Holy Father and the bishops especially – that they may be rocks of faith and truth raising the world up from corrupt passing ways to God.

For our civil leaders that they may protect and not infringe on the spiritual rights of the church to teach the truth freely..

For our youth that they may not be ruled by the false prophets of the sinful world opposed to God, but be wise and build their inner house on the rock that is Christ and his eternal church.

For ourselves in our homes that we may be true prophets to our families and all those who depend on us, bringing them up in true faith, and with real caring and nurturing love.

For the sick, the needy aged, the lonely and the deprived in body, mind or soul; through our care may they know God’s love.

For the dead whose faith is known to God alone, that remaining true to God and his church here below, they may, with the help of our prayers, come to the highest happiness in heaven..

We ask all these our prayers through the same Christ who is lord of truth, love and salvation forever and ever, amen.

Reflection
Once when in the USA I was on a bus and an old black woman came up to me and said: “there is another way”. It struck me as a good slogan for our troubled world. Every day we read of people beating up the old and weak for a few euros, high on drugs or drink. Stabbing each other or giving up on life because they’ve no sure spiritual ground under their feet. The challenge for us is to show them that there is another way in Christ and his Church. Each of us must, like that black woman, help all to find faith and peace there. Lets pray to Mother Mary, that all the lost souls of our world may come to the healing grace and peace which is Christ and his holy church’s timeless way..Hail Mary.

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