What Can Flesh Do Against Me?
Gospel Reflection for Thursday, January 18, 2024
7 But Jesus retired with his disciples to the sea; and a great multitude followed him from Galilee and Judea, 8 And from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and from beyond the Jordan. And they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, hearing the things which he did, came to him. 9 And he spoke to his disciples that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. 10 For he healed many, so that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had evils.
11 And the unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him: and they cried, saying: 12 Thou art the Son of God. And he strictly charged them that they should not make him known.
At first glance, today’s readings seem unconnected. In the first reading, we are told of how King Saul became jealous of David. David had slain Goliath in yesterday’s reading, and went on to become a great warrior. Saul, sensing the David would replace him as king, is infuriated by the people’s praise of one whom he perceives as a rival. David, himself, had no desire to rival King Saul. But, Saul, begins to plot to kill David.
In today’s Gospel, the people begin to follow Jesus in overwhelming numbers. They are beginning to believe in Him as Messiah and to honor Him as King of the Jews. They press upon Him and ask more of Him than He could humanly give. The religious and political leaders of the Jews begin to recognize Him as a rival. Although, He is described as a lamb and one who would not break a bruised reed, He threatens their authority. Just as King Herod sought to kill the infant Jesus, the officials of church and state now begin to kill the man. Jesus knows full well that the same people who will welcome Him into Jerusalem as a King and Savior on Palm Sunday will demand His execution just days later. He rebuked the demons not to proclaim His divinity so that this could happen. He knew that His crucifixion, death and resurrection was far more important than any earthly position. He also knew that when He introduced the Eucharist, most of His followers would fall away, unable to accept His teaching. It seems that Judas was among the first to reject the True Presence in the Eucharist…. Martin Luther would do the same some 1400 years later.
No matter the opinions of our fellow men, or our own struggles to understand the Word of God and the teachings of the Church, the Psalm gives us this promise:
Now I know that God is with me.
In God, in whose promise I glory,
in God I trust without fear;
what can flesh do against me?
Just as David perceived and triumphed over the plots of Saul, and Jesus conquered death through His resurrection, we have nothing to fear. The Bible tells us not to fear those who can kill the body, but the one who can kill the soul. If God is for us, who can be against us? If we are for God, what have we to worry? No matter how hard things get, we know how the story ends!
Judson Carroll is the author of several books, including his newest, A Daily Catholic Devotional Reflections on the Daily Mass Readings January-June, 2024. It is Available in paperback on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CPD1DC7Q
Confirmation, an Autobiography of Faith. It is also Available in paperback on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C47Q1JNK
His new podcast is The Uncensored Catholic https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-uncensored-catholic