of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford




Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

He taught them with authority

The Word This Week

Where does authority come from ? Why is one man regarded as a prophet, and another as a lunatic, and a third as a hypocrite? Jesus startles the crowds with a “new teaching” today, but what amazes them so much is not the message but the authority behind it: they are convinced because what he does somehow adds credibility to what he says. It ‘s the old situation that we are all familiar with - we look through words to see the actions, which show us the real message. The scribes did not heal or work miracles, but simply talked about God. Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God, but also shows  the people what it is - a Kingdom where all that damages human happiness is abolished. The other side to this is that we must listen to a prophet or teacher when they are backed by such authority; we may not “harden our hearts” and ignore the message when we have recognised that the messenger is sent by God. This is the hard part, because it demands that we too show, by our actions, that we have heard.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Deuteronomy 18:15-20.

The key to this reading, which links it to the Gospel, is the phrase “ him you must listen.”The people had asked for a prophet - a go-between - in the past. God will surely send one, but the people must take his message seriously. The reading tells us what a prophet is: someone who speaks God’s words. This is why they must be heeded. This is quite a difficult reading to proclaim: it has different tones: the voice of Moses, reasoning with the people, and the voice of God, firmly laying down the law about what the prophet must be. Be very careful with the words the people said at Horeb (“Do not let me hear again...”) Try to carry some sense of their fear - remember, to see the face of God was death for the people of Israel. There is a note of stern finality at the end of the reading (“...that prophet shall die”) Don’t be afraid of it. Simply allow God’s words to be heard.


Second Reading:1 Corinthians 7:32-35.

Paul continues his discourse on this passing world, and how Christians are to live in it. He believes that our hearts run the risk of being divided, or subverted by the pressures of life in the world; Paul uses as an example married life: we cannot devote ourselves totally - every minute of every day - to the Lord if we also have to please our spouse. We find ourselves “torn two ways” This may seem very negative, but as Paul says he is “only trying to help”: whatever our state in life, we must never forget the Lord. This reading is very straightforward: Paul presents his example clearly, and in a perfectly balanced way - what is true for men is true for women. So emphasise the words at the beginning and end: “I would like to see you free from all worry...” and “I say this only to help you...” Don’t worry too much about the deeper meaning of the reading: proclaim Paul’s words clearly and understandably, and leave the preaching to the homilist!


Click on the link to get this week's Gospel based Wordsearch. Feel free to copy and paste it into your parish publications.