Preacher’s Sketchbook: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 24, 2012

Each week, a Dominican member of the Provincial Preaching Advisory board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass.  The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily.   Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.


Bl. Pope John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis

Jesus thus established a close relationship between the ministry entrusted to the apostles and his own mission: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Mt 10,40); “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Lc 10,16). Indeed, in the light of the paschal event of the death and resurrection, the fourth Gospel affirms this with great force and clarity: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20,21 cf. Jn 13,20 Jn 17,18). Just as Jesus has a mission which comes to him directly from God and makes present the very authority of God (cf. Mt 7,29 Mt 21,23 Mc 1,27 Mc 11,28 Lc 20,2 Lc 24,19), so too the apostles have a mission which comes to them from Jesus. And just as “the Son can do nothing of his own accord” (Jn 5,19) such that his teaching is not his own but the teaching of the One who sent him (cf. Jn 7,16), so Jesus says to the apostles: “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn 15,5). Their mission is not theirs but is the same mission of Jesus. All this is possible not as a result of human abilities, but only with the “gift” of Christ and his Spirit, with the “sacrament”: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20,22-23). And so the apostles, not by any special merit of their own, but only through a gratuitous participation in the grace of Christ, prolong throughout history to the end of time the same mission of Jesus on behalf of humanity. The sign and presupposition of the authenticity and fruitfulness of this mission is the apostles’ unity with Jesus and, in him, with one another and with the Father – as the priestly prayer of our Lord, which sums up his mission, bears witness (cf. Jn 17,20-23).

Bl. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae

This teaching is not a body of abstract truths. It is the communication of the living mystery of God. The Person teaching it in the Gospel is altogether superior in excellence to the “masters” in Israel, and the nature of His doctrine surpasses theirs in every way because of the unique link between what He says, what He does and what He is. Nevertheless, the Gospels clearly relate occasions when Jesus “taught.” “Jesus began to do and teach” – with these two verbs, placed at the beginning of the book of the Acts, St. Luke links and at the same time distinguishes two poles in Christ’s mission. Jesus taught. It is the witness that He gives of Himself: “Day after day I sat in the temple teaching.” It is the admiring observation of the evangelists, surprised to see Him teaching everywhere and at all times, teaching in a manner and with an authority previously unknown: “Crowds gathered to him again; and again, as his custom was, he taught them “; “and they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority.” It is also what His enemies note for the purpose of drawing from it grounds for accusation and condemnation: “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judaea, from Galilee even to this place.”

St. Augustine, City of God

The devils themselves knew this manifestation of God so well, that they said to the Lord though clothed with the infirmity of flesh, “What have we to do with Thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us before the time?” From these words, it is clear that they had great knowledge, and no charity. They feared His power to punish, and did not love His righteousness. He made known to them so much as He pleased, and He was pleased to make known so much as was needful. But He made Himself known not as to the holy angels, who know Him as the Word of God, and rejoice in His eternity, which they partake, but as was requisite to strike with terror the beings from whose tyranny He was going to free those who were predestined to His kingdom and the glory of it, eternally true and truly eternal. He made Himself known, therefore, to the demons, not by that which is life eternal, and the unchangeable light which illumines the pious, whose souls are cleansed by the faith that is in Him, but by some temporal effects of His power, and evidences of His mysterious presence, which were more easily discerned by the angelic senses even of wicked spirits than by human infirmity. But when He judged it advisable gradually to suppress these signs, and to retire into deeper obscurity, the prince of the demons doubted whether He were the Christ, and endeavored to ascertain this by tempting Him, in so far as He permitted Himself to be tempted, that He might adapt the manhood He wore to be an example for our imitation. But after that temptation, when, as Scripture says, He was ministered to by the angels who are good and holy, and therefore objects of terror to the impure spirits, He revealed more and more distinctly to the demons how great He was, so that, even though the infirmity of His flesh might seem contemptible, none dared to resist His authority.

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Sunday Preacher’s Resource: Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)


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