Concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
The Lord is my light and my help;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
before whom shall I shrink? (R./)
There is one thing I ask of the Lord,
for this I long,
to live in the house of the Lord,
all the days of my life,
to savour the sweetness of the Lord,
to behold his temple. (R./)
I am sure I shall see the Lord's goodness
in the land of the living.
Hope in him, hold firm and take heart.
Hope in the Lord! (R./)
Jesus went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, "Let us alone! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God." But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, "What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!" And a report about him began to reach every place in the region.
A popular theme of both Jesus and St. Paul is the need for keeping alert, in order to stay close to God and live our life according to God's will. Ironically, in today's Gospel the one most alert to Jesus' presence is the unclean spirit. As it was being driven out of a possessed man, it cried aloud, "I know who you are, the Holy One of God!"
In Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan's character named Christian sings this verse:
"When saints do sleepy grow, let them come hither
And hear how these two pilgrims talk together;
Yea, let them learn of them, and in what wise
They may keep open slumbering eyes.
Saints' fellowship, if it be managed well,
Keeps them awake, and that in spite of hell."
If we isolate ourselves we are likely to grow drowsy. Interacting with others encourages our progress on the road to to God. In this fellowship of prayer with others, the Lord Jesus is the invisible centre.
Authority figures in all walks of life come under suspicion, often rightly. The known misuses of authority can make all forms of authority suspect. Yet if properly used, authority can be a force for good. In the gospel the authority of Jesus is a force for good. The people are delighted to recognise true, divine authority in him. His teaching made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority. It was experienced as good because it brought life to others. His was an authority that was life-giving, life-renewing and creative.
Jesus' authority was rooted in his relationship with God. It was inspired by the same Spirit of God that he passed on to us. If we wtay close to him, we too will bring healing and peace where it is needed.