It happened again. Just when I think I’ve heard all the questions students will ask, a new one will catch me off guard. That happened the other day in the course of a school visit. I was with a class of grade eights. One boy put up his hand and asked: “Apart from praying, how do you fix the Oilers?”
The questions posed by students reveal what they struggle with. Often it is more serious than the plight of a hockey team. My constant refrain to them is this: whatever your question, Jesus is the answer. Turn to him to be enlightened. When others are in difficulty, direct them to the answer he is.
The Sacred Scripture passages we heard on Sunday offer insight into why this is true. From Deuteronomy we heard Moses speaking to the people and promising that God would send to them a prophet “like him”. Moses was unique among all the prophets and leaders of ancient Israel because of his unparalleled intimacy with God. In his close personal encounters with the Almighty he was given words to speak to God’s people. Jesus has come to us, “like Moses,” but in a way that far surpasses Moses. St. John teaches us that Jesus came from the bosom of the Father. His was an infinite intimacy, that of the Son from all eternity. From those ineffable depths the Son came to us, took on human flesh in Jesus, and spoke the words that he had received from the Father. This is why he – and no other – is the answer to our questions and wonderments.
In the Gospel passage we see that the words Jesus speaks have a power never before witnessed. His casting out of the evil spirit from the man he encountered in the synagogue demonstrates that the Evil One is powerless before him.
How much our world today needs to be directed to Jesus to encounter this life-saving word! We see all around us the evil of domestic violence, human trafficking, poverty, hunger and homelessness, and so much more.
The situation of our world today leaves us, like the students, with many questions. The answer Jesus gives, the answer that he is, is that God is with us, he can cast out the effects of evil in our lives and change our lot if we turn to him, and that therefore we need not fear.