Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What “Authority” governs your life?

"His authority on earth allows us to dare to go to all the nations. His authority in heaven gives us our only hope of success. And His presence with us leaves us no other choice."

Gospel text (Mk 1:21-28): Jesus and his disciples went into the town of Capernaum and began to teach in the synagogue during the Sabbath assemblies. The people were astonished at the way he taught, for he spoke as one having authority and not like the teachers of the Law. It happened that a man with an evil spirit was in their synagogue and he shouted, «What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: You are the Holy One of God». Then Jesus faced him and said with authority, «Be silent and come out of this man!». The evil spirit shook the man violently and, with a loud shriek, came out of him.

All the people were astonished and they wondered, «What is this? With what authority he preaches! He even orders evil spirits and they obey Him!». And Jesus' fame spread throughout all the country of Galilee .

Today, first Tuesday in Ordinary Time, Saint Mark presents Jesus while teaching in the synagogue and, immediately, he comments: «The people were astonished at the way he taught, for he spoke as one having authority and not like the teachers of the Law» (Mk 1:21). This is quite an extraordinary initial notice. On one hand, what His listeners admire is certainly not the doctrine but the Master; it is not what is said, but Who says it. And, on the other hand, it is not the preacher as much but, rather, specifically who He is: Jesus taught «as one having authority», that is, with legitimate and unimpeachable power. Later on, this particularity is reconfirmed with a straight comparison: «He did not do it like the teachers of the Law».

A little later, though, the scene of the man with an evil spirit integrates the doctrinal lesson with an admirable motivation: «What is this? With what authority he preaches a new Law!» (Mk 1:27). Notwithstanding, we may as well note the qualifying adjective does not refer so much to the contents as it does to the uniqueness: the doctrine is “new”. Here we find another reason of contrast: Jesus communicates something unheard of (never ever this word could be better applied).

We still add a third remark. His authority comes also from the fact Jesus «even orders evil spirits and they obey Him!». We are facing here such a deep contrast as in the other two previous ones. To the Master's authority and to the newness of His doctrine we must add His power against evil spirits.

Brothers! Our faith tells us this Liturgy of the Word makes us contemporaries of what we have just heard and comment on. What does that have to do with us? I think that it is very simple: we too must first let the word (Word) of God become the very nourishment of our lives and guide us in every way. We need to study it, pray it, love it, let it be our Law. We also need to constantly pray for the Spirit to bring that word (Word) to active life within us. And, thirdly, we must ourselves speak and act with and in the power and authority of that word (Word), not in a domineering or critical way but by letting our light (God's light) shine in all that we are and do and say, letting our very lives show the presence of God within us, revealing what God actually means to us and how much we have become His servants and handmaidens, how truly we are His children and resemble Him.

And then God will make Himself known to others through us and will Himself cast out the demons that we encounter in ourselves and others.

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