Deut 18:15-20; 1Cor 7:32-35; Mk 1:21-28
An educated and a learned person was being ferried across a lake by a man who was not educated and even went to college. During the crossing the learned man struck a conversation with the boatman. “Do you know anything about astronomy?” asked the learned man. “No” the boatman answered. “How about political science, economics?” The answer of the boatman was always no. “All I only know is that there is God whose words are powerful, I pray for Him and I know how to swim,” said the boatman.
“What a pity person,” lamented the learned man. “You lose one half of your life. Why will I believe in God when I can explain everything?” he continued. The boatman just listened and kept quiet.
Shortly after a squall came up and shipwreck was imminent. “You mean to tell me you do not need to pray,” the boatman said to the learned man. “No! I don’t,” said the learned man. “You know how to swim?” asked the boatman. “No” answered the learned man. “If you do not know how to swim and pray either, then you lose your whole life.”
As it turned out, the boat capsized and the learned man despite his knowledge, drowned. As for the boatman, he is now waiting to ferry across the river another learned man who do not know how to swim.
Today’s gospel is unusual not in that Jesus drove out the unclean spirit, but in that he did so without being asked. More often than not Jesus helped needy people in response to a petition. It is not as if Jesus had to be told what should be done. Rather He willed that His help would come as a result of faith manifested in request.
God does not need to be informed of our needs, he has the powerful words and moves us to pray for what is right and good as part of His over-all plan to do what is right and good for us. That is how powerful words are.
We have great orators in the past like Demosthenes, a Greek and Cicero, Roman. Even today, we have great speakers just like former Pres. Marcos, when he went for a speaking engagement, upon boarding the plane, his secretary would hand him his written speech for him to read and during his speech, he could deliver it word for word.
In TV and in some religious gatherings, we have great speakers, whose voices and words can have wondrous effects on the audience. Their words have the power to teach, commence, to move, to console, to encourage and to heal. May be their words having the power also to deceive or inflict dangers on us.
Think about of a father in the family can do especially for his children through the use of his words, people in authority and many more. Just like this story I read (Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD, Just a Moment February 18, published 2007) about a husband who always came home late at night would always try to make up by greeting his wife: “how is the beautiful mother of my three wonderful children?” somehow, he always got away with it.
One night when the husband greeted her with his usual line, the wife who was so annoyed with his style cheerfully greeted him: “And how are you, the father of one of my three children?”
Puzzled and overpowered by the statement, the husband changed from that time on and always came home early.
And so you see how powerful words are. They can change somebody for better or for worse. But above all, the word of God is infinitely more powerful than any other human words. Just look at the creation story. Also, in our gospel today, we see the power of Jesus’ word, he teaches them with authority and He even commands the evil spirits to come out and they obeyed him. That is his words, more powerful than ours.
But we take for granted this word of God. We don’t read it most often and apply it into our lives. We prefer to read pocketbooks, comics that are horror and love story, newspapers and magazines. We prefer to watch our favorite TV talk shows rather than spending a few moments reading the Bible and reflect on it without knowing that this is the greatest means to salvation because through this we know what to do, feel and say.
I read also from the, Just a Moment (February 26, published 2007), of Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD that the average person speaks thirty thousand words a day! (And maybe some can be more). There is always the temptation to talk too much, to keep rewinding and to keep right on talking.
The suggestion of Fr. Orbos is this: If only you cut down 50 percent of what you usually and often unnecessary say, you’ll have more peace and the people around you will have more peace. In other words there shall be cost cutting, not only with our budget, but also with our words and instead, let us talk about God’s word.
Many people who read the word of God gave their own testimony. For example, Daniel Webster, an American statesman: “The Bible is a book of faith, of doctrine, of morals, of religion, of special regulations from God. It teaches man his own individuality, his own dignity, and his equality with fellowmen.” He died at 80 years old and beside with him is the Bible.
An anonymous educator also said: “The Bible is the light of my understanding, the joy of my heart, the fullness of my hope, the clarifier of affections, the mirror of my thoughts, the consoler of my sorrows, the guide of my soul through this gloomy labyrinth of time, the telescope sent from heaven to reveal to the eye of man the amazing glories of the far distant world.”
There are so many testimonies but at the end let us reflect on this: During 12th World Youth Day in Paris, France, a Japanese girl said when she met a group of delegates from the Philippines, “The Philippines is the hope of Asia”. My dear friends, this is now our challenge. Our faith must not be contained in the four walls of our hearts; we have the responsibility to share it by sharing the word of God especially to those who are in need of this. Let us commit ourselves to read, study, pray, live, share and celebrate the word of God.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B