Gospel commentary: School days

First slide

Mk 1:21-28

 

During this election year, many pundits will try to play the role of prophet and try to predict the outcome of the mid-term elections. In contrast to that, the role of a "prophet” in scripture was not necessarily one who tells the future but one who speaks God's Word.

 

In today's first reading, Moses says that after he has departed, God would provide the people with prophets who will speak to the people in God's name, just as Moses did. Of course, the great prophet to come would be Jesus who was God's Word made flesh. After the Lord returned to the Father, He left behind a church to be the prophet and speak in His name. In every generation, the church would speak and apply God's Word to the world around it. The church would always be the place where the Word of the Lord would be present. "I will raise up for them a prophet and I will put my words into his mouth." These words are fulfilled in Jesus and now in His church.

 

That is why, to extend today's second reading from St. Paul, the church must remain unmarried — unmarried to any political party, ideology or political system. The Church is called to speak the truth of Christ. We must do what we can to enable the church to keep that freedom.

 

The church is also called to continue Jesus' ministry that we see in today's Gospel as Jesus casts out an evil spirit. The church uses its sacramental power to cast out the spirits of greed, lust, selfishness, hate, racism and anything that defaces human dignity, including evil spirits themselves. How does the Church do that today?

 

There is, of course, the preaching of the church that goes on in churches every Sunday and, usually every day. There is the sacramental life of the church. There are also institutions like Catholic Charities that the church uses to extend the compassion of Christ.

 

One of these institutions that is used to extend the reach of the Gospel is the Catholic school. Today, we begin Catholic Schools Week when we highlight the work being done in Catholic schools throughout our nation.

 

About a century and a half ago, the bishops of the United States made a huge multi-decade commitment to establish a Catholic school system. One reason was that most of the public schools at that time were imbued with an anti-Catholic Protestantism that manifested itself in teaching and in prayers in the public schools. The bishops decreed that every parish, to the extent it can, shall have a parochial school. In fact, the school was to be built before the church to indicate the high priority they gave to Catholic education. Today we are the heirs of that commitment with 6,000 parochial schools and about 2 million students. The Catholic school strives to be a community where young people can be identifiably Catholic, can learn the faith and learn how to be a Christian.

 

Today, parochial schools have many more costs than they had years ago. Still, they strive to be part of fulfilling the mission of Jesus. With our support they will. The future of our nation and our church is not in the stars but in our classrooms.

 

Fr. Krempa is pastor of St. Bridget of Ireland Church in Berryville.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018