Stop worrying yourself 4 Sunday in ordinary time B 2018

Friends, in the gospel according to Mark, we read about concrete events.  This Sunday's gospel text takes place in the synagogue of Kafarnaum where Jesus preaches with power and all who heard him were overwhelmed by his teaching. Kafarnaum or Capernaum (present Kefar Nahum) was a city in Israel at the northern shore of Lake Gennesaret. According to the New Testament, Kafarnaum was the center of Jesus' activities. The city is mentioned in the gospel of Luke, and in Matthew 4:13. This city is described as the home of Jesus. The city has long been a ruin. It has been excavated by groups of archaeologists, mainly Germans. The city's history is very fragmentary. It was the hometown of Jesus and the site of many well-known healing ones. The town of Kafarnaum on the northern coast of Gennesaret has long been in ruins - and it is a destination place for today's Christian. You can sit down on a stone bench and be reminded that it was just here that Jesus cured a man obsessed with an evil spirit (Mark 1: 23-27). That was exactly what I did on two different occasions when I visited the site.

When Jesus pronounced his verop over several Galilean cities, he also mentioned Kafarnaum with the words "You're going to fall into the kingdom of death." The judgment of Jesus over the city was crushing. He presents Kafarnaum as a warning example for all people who see and hear God's word, and yet do not receive it. You can still see the foundation of the old lava synagogue and even the ruins of the synagogue that was later built on the same place, probably in the eighteenth-century e Kr.  

Kafarnaum is a very important pilgrimage and tourist destination today, not because of what's it is today but because of what it was.  That is to say because of what Jesus did there. Many events took place there. It was there the story of the officer who said to Jesus just say one word, the boy will be well. It was also in this city that the incident with the lame man who was sunk down through the roof of a house where Jesus stood and spoke to the people took place. Kafarnaum is the city where the disciples were on their way when they experienced a dark and stormy night on Lake Gennesaret - when Jesus suddenly came walking against them on the water. The synagogue leader Jairos also had an indescribable miracle when Jesus raised his daughter from the dead (Luke 8: 49-53). It was here Jesus lived after leaving Nazareth. Kafarnaum became the center of his business and the place is mentioned repeatedly in the New Testament. It was in this city that the tax collector Matthew grew up and one day met the newly-moved Jesus outside the Custom’s House. Scripture also teaches that Peter lived here and the story of how Jesus cured his mother-in-law is well-known.

In the first reading, we hear that it is the Lord who chooses his messenger and gives them specific mission. The one who is called to proclaim the word of God shall say what the Lord has commanded not his or her own words. It is the Lord who puts his word in the mouth of the prophet.  If he does not, the prophet should not speak. Those who are God’s envoys are expected to listen and act on what is said. It is by living the word that the Lord puts his word in the mouth of his prophet so that the hearers can live. For whom the Lord has given his word, speaks what the Lord has commanded and does not speak his own words. Unfortunately, there are many self-appointed prophets, evangelists, pastors, bishops and men and women of God in our time. They claim that they speak in the name of God while in deed, the words they speak are nothing but their own words. These false prophets and evangelists are everywhere. It may be hard to know what they have for motives. But that they deceive people, we know with certainty. These self-proclaimed prophets make use of human worries for tomorrow to enslave their victims. In this context, Paul's words may be helpful.

I'd rather not worry, Paul writes. He seems to prefer celibacy to family life in regard to deep union with God. Paul believes that the unmarried is occupied with what belongs to the Lord while the married man thinks about what belongs to the world. What Paul writes may raise many questions. It seems to Paul that someone could be completely free from worries. Paul probably thinks that whoever has given his life to the Lord by becoming a celibate will no longer worry. In reality, it does not work that way. Can anyone living on earth be free from worries? We are constantly concerned about what may or may not happen. We worry not only for material things but also for our spiritual growth, our faithfulness or its lack thereof. Paul wrote perhaps having in mind of a Church structure where priests (presbyters) devoted themselves completely to prayer. Deacons came as a relief of the tasks that the apostles performed. Now the apostles would only devote themselves to prayer. Today, it is different in the Church, which during Paul's time began to develop as a family with the apostles as heads. Priests today have multiple tasks, they are shepherds and at the same time administrators. They are expected not only to pray but also to engage in other things in the Church and in society. These responsibilities have their own worries.  Therefore, church leaders cannot be without worries but have concerns like all other people. Paul's suggestion that thinking about what belongs to the Lord can hardly be taken as a simple invitation. What does Paul mean then?

We may interpret what Paul says as a demand. He himself says he does not want to put burdens on the brothers. It is unreasonable to expect anyone here on earth to be without worries. For us to understand what Paul says in the text, we can refer to a similar call in the gospel: Do not worry about tomorrow. It will bear its own concerns. Every day has enough of its own worries ". It is easy to encourage those who have trouble not to worry.  Worries always have to do with tomorrow, outcomes. It has a function in every human being. In a way, worries can create the opportunity for people to put their trust in God. Therefore, worries can indicate lack of confidence. With each concern comes an invitation to trust more in God. In this way, one can take advantage of their worries. What Paul specifically emphasizes in this text is that one can do nothing without Jesus. With and in Jesus all things are possible.  A branch does not have to worry about whether it carries fruit. The only branch must do is to make sure it remains a branch on a vine.

Jesus' life was characterized by teaching. Today he is in the synagogue in Kafarnaum where he taught with power behind his words. Strange enough, unclean spirits recognize Jesus. It is not said anywhere in the gospel that God spoke to Jesus. That Jesus spoke with power, we understand, if we understand that he is the word of God. In Jesus, God speaks completely. Words that Jesus speaks has creative power. In John we read that everything came to being through the word. We can see in this that the word of God has the power to create, transform and renew. Every word that we speak can create or destroy. Scripture teaches us that there is the power of life and death in the spoken word. Therefore, it is important how we use words. It is unbelievable how we can destroy life for ourselves and for others we meet through our way of using words or acting with words. It is by staying in Jesus that a human being can perform the work of Jesus. If we really believe, then the word can come alive when we speak. As Christians, we need to open all the doors and windows and allow Jesus' life to flow. Each of us no longer lives our own life but the resurrected Lord's life. For us to do what Jesus does, we must live in the word of Jesus. God wants to bear our concerns. Is it not what John wants to teach us to believe in Jesus Christ instead of believing in ourselves? He is the way, the truth and the life.

The Hebrew alphabet consists of 22 letters with consonants only. This means that you need to know how to spell a word to read it. The Hebrew word for the alphabet is ot, (foundation) which may mean 'sign' or 'wonder'. Each alphabet of the alef-bet is thought to contain signs that point to the wonderful truth about life. According to the Hebrew midrash, the Lord God taught (the alphabets, numerical value, mathematical relationship, etc.) Adam who passed them on to his sons until Jacob. It was Jacob who taught Joseph the secrets of the alphabets, which he used to interpret dreams.

Hebrew mystics mean that the entire cosmos was created with the 22 consonants in the alphabet. Through them, God created existence out of nothing (ex nihilo). In other words, the whole universe was created and held by divine language (the word of God). When God spoke, everything came into being. Among rabbis, it is said that God consulted the Torah when he created the world. Jesus is called Levi, Elohim, the word of God and alef and tav, which maintains the order of creation through the power of God. Only Jesus is the true foundation of life. The Hebrew letters and their order are of divine origin. They are unique in this context because we can learn something about God from the Hebrew alphabet and its spiritual qualities.

Eliezer Ben-Yehuda's son, Itamar Ben Avi, suggested that they begin writing Hebrew with Latin letters to simplify it for the people. This was no popular suggestion. The opponents felt that Hebrew belonged to the alphabet used in the Hebrew Bible. More religious Jews even believed that the Hebrew alphabet had a holy power. You can understand why Ben-Yehuda and the others who created the modern Hebrew made no change to the Hebrew alphabet. God has spoken his word and there is life. All who trust in the Lord need no longer worry. Whatever happens in our lives and around us, the only thing that is expected of us is to hold on to the Messiah, our alef and our tav, the light that shines in our lives. Chikezie Onuoha MSP

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