Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Mark 1:21-28

 “He taught them with authority”

 

“with authority” …. That can sound rather threatening – like someone coming down from a dizzy height of ‘authority’, making unquestioning demands on his listeners. Where Jesus was concerned nothing could be further from the truth.

 

The official teachers of the time, the Scribes, used to teach by quoting texts from the Scriptures, supported by the statements and opinions of a wide range of ‘authorities’ – great legal masters of the past. This was the sort of authoritative teaching the people were accustomed to. It was heavy-handed; it was imposed from a distance; it came from texts; it was not to be questioned and generally left the listeners untouched. The Scribe was wedded to his information bank not to his audience.

 

In contrast, with Jesus “his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the Scribes, he taught them with authority”. The authority of Jesus came from within. He speaks not from books but from his own personal experience of God as “Abba”, his Father whose unlimited love penetrated every last fibre of his being. He taught with a new kind of authority because, far from disseminating information, he was inviting into a relationship; he reached the heart as well as the head; he sought not to bind people with rigid demands but to free them to be capable of receiving and responding to divine love. He engaged people at the level of spirit and invited them to share his own spirit.

 

Two weeks ago we heard the invitation of Jesus to “come and see” – to spend time with him, get to know him personally. Last week we heard his invitation to “follow me” – to be a disciple ready to learn from him and share his mission. Today we see Jesus in action, overcoming the power of evil, liberating people so that they may truly and fully live. His consequent astonishing reputation has reached us that we too may accept him into our lives.