“I Know Who You Are!”
(4th Ordinary Sunday: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28)
In today’s Gospel, the people were astonished because Jesus “taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” One man in the synagogue, however, was not astonished but terrified. Possessed by an unclean spirit, he was the only one to recognize Jesus, and cried out, “I know who you are!” Jesus then did exactly what the demon feared most, and cast it out.
The unclean spirit knew him, while those who ought to have known him did not. At La Salette, the Beautiful Lady saw that her people, judging from their behavior, no longer knew her Son. To use the language of today’s Psalm 95, they had hardened their hearts and refused to hear his voice.
La Salette is therefore prophetic. While Mary’s appearance and manner are very different from how we usually imagine prophets, her message, like theirs, contains exhortations, promises and warnings.
God told Moses that he would raise up another prophet like him from among the people. “I will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.” He kept this promise, over many generations.
In baptism, each of us was given a share in the dignity of Christ’s prophetic role. This responsibility may seem too much for us. So we pray, “Let your face shine on your servant. Save me in your merciful love. O Lord, let me never be put to shame, for I call on you” (Communion antiphon, Ps. 31).
The demon called Jesus “the Holy One of God,” and trembled. Christians call Jesus by that same title, and draw near. Psalm 95 puts this attitude into words. “Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For he is our God, and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.”
Our worship and our faith-filled way of life are by nature prophetic, drawing attention to God’s presence and action in our world. In other words, it should be possible for those around us to say, “I know who you are—a follower of Jesus Christ.”
Some may even recognize a certain La Salette quality about us, and seek to understand what that is or, better still, how they may acquire it for themselves.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.
A New Song
(3rd Ordinary Sunday: Jonah 3:1-10; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Matthew 1:14-20)
We begin this reflection with today’s Entrance Antiphon: “O sing a new song to the Lord; Sing to the Lord, all the earth” (Ps. 96:1). It provides an insight into the readings and into La Salette.
In all the readings, there is momentous change. Nineveh responded to Jonah’s preaching. Jesus proclaims: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand.” Four fishermen have abandoned their nets to follow him. St. Paul tells us, “The world in its present form is passing away.”
The La Salette Apparition was life-changing as well, not only for Mélanie and Maximin, but for many thousands of others, down to our own day and age.
The invitation to sing a new song applies not to the change itself, as if it were just a matter of novelty. It comes always in a context of joy and celebration. Something wonderful has happened—such as conversion or reconciliation—with intense new feelings seeking new expression.
There are many songs in many languages in honor of Our Lady of La Salette. But there is one that is intimately associated with the Shrine on the Holy Mountain in France. It makes no mention of the Apparition or the message. Rather, it is a poetic translation of the Angelus, set to music, and it is sung at the end of the candlelight procession every evening.
It is known as the La Salette Angelus, and regular pilgrims know it by heart. It is, in a way, their new song, renewing their love for the Beautiful Lady every time they sing it. Such a new song helps to drive out old negative habits and thoughts that often try to creep back into our lives.
Today’s Psalm contains an awesome prayer: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me.” We need to have our feet planted on the firm ground of God’s guiding truth, which is never old.
The new song goes both ways. Consider this wonderful text from Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.”
Our new song is God’s, and his is ours!
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.