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January 15, 2019

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book PNG2112Gospel: Mark 1:21-28
They went into the town of Capernaum and Jesus taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. 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 gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him!” And Jesus’ fame spread throughout all the country of Galilee.

“I know who you are.”
Authority is the key word in today’s gospel reading. It occurs in two senses. There is Jesus’ au­thority in the sense of his power to command and be obeyed— even by evil spirits who recog­nize and name him as “the Holy One of God.” But there is autho­rity in another sense: his capa­city to preach and speak “with authority”—“not  like  teachers of the law.” Jesus’ authority does not come from learned study, office, or lineage. He preaches and acts as one who lives and embodies the truth of his mes­sage. It is his very nature. People can sense his authenticity, but their response is more of won­der than of confession: “What is this?” They are not yet ready to recognize him as clearly as the evil spirits who “know who he is.” Among the saints, there were many who lacked any official of­fice, who had no special training or theological education. And yet their contemporaries could perceive in them an authority that was lacking in “teachers of the law.” As Christians, we too must speak  with  authority—not  sim­ply by quoting authoritative texts or showing off our learning, but with  the  authority  that  comes from backing up professions of faith with the way we live.

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