Catholic News Service
Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
1) Dt 18:15-20
Psalm: 95:1-2, 6-9
2) 1 Cor 7:32-35
Gospel: Mk 1:21-28
Accepting the authority of Jesus
Think of the last time you heard or read something of interest. Perhaps it was the headline news, a radio program, an online article, the daily newspaper or the most recent message in your email inbox.
Chances are you were listening or reading at a good, even rapid, pace to cover as much ground as possible. We listen and read for information, knowledge and comprehension.
As we listen to or read the information that surrounds us each day, we trust in the authority of those who speak or write the words that come to us. We rarely pause to question the authority of the sources of the news and information we consume each day. We simply trust their authority.
In today’s Gospel, Mark tells us that Jesus entered a synagogue in Capernaum on the Sabbath and taught with great authority there. At the sight of Jesus, the people would have recalled Moses’ promise of a prophet, as described in the first reading.
The scene at Capernaum also reminds us of that Gospel moment when Mary and Joseph, after anguished searching, found the child Jesus in the Temple, teaching and conversing with the scribes and doctors of the law.
Jesus amazed the people in Capernaum for he taught with authority. Then, as if his words were not enough, Jesus performed a powerful deed by driving out unclean spirits who obeyed him. No surprise then that Jesus’ words and deeds astounded those who heard him and his fame spread quickly through the region of Galilee.
Jesus’ identity and mission far surpassed the greatest of the prophets of Israel. For the source of Jesus’ authority was his divine origin and identity. Jesus is the Son of God, the one sent by the Father to reconcile us to friendship with God.
In our individualistic culture, the word “authority” inspires fear, indifference or rejection. At Capernaum, Jesus showed the people a different kind of authority. His words and deeds reveal the love of God for each of us, a love that far exceeds our imagination and expectations.
The word of God is trustworthy because it is a word of divine love. Today, God’s word invites us to place our trust in the authority of God’s word as a light for the journey of life. Just as the people were astonished by Jesus’ authority revealed in his words and deeds, may we be astounded by the healing, comforting power of God’s word in our lives, as we say in faith, “speak to me, Lord.”
“The Bible contains the word of God, which is always timely and effective. Someone has asked: What would happen were we to treat the Bible as we treat our mobile phone? … Were we to open it several times a day; were we to read God’s messages contained in the Bible as we read telephone messages, what would happen?” Pope Francis, Angelus, March 5, 2017
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Sullivan is secretary for Catholic education of the Archdiocese of Washington.