From the Pastor's Desk
The common theme of today’s readings is Divine authority as exercised in this world by the prophets of the Old Testament in their messages, by the apostles (including St. Paul), in their writings and teaching in the New Testament, and by Jesus in his teaching and healing ministry.
Today’s first reading tells us that a true prophet speaks with authority because it is God who speaks through him. After the Babylonian exile, the Jewish priests began to interpret the words of Moses given in the first reading, namely, "a prophet like me," as referring to one individual, the expected Messiah. This passage is chosen for today’s first reading because it refers to Jesus, the "preacher with authority," mentioned in today’s Gospel.
In the second reading, St. Paul exercises his God-given authority as the Apostle to the Gentiles to teach people in Corinth that marriage is a holy state ordained by God and that it is a life-long partnership according to the teaching of the Lord. In today’s Gospel, Mark describes one sample Sabbath day of Jesus’ public life. Jesus joins in public worship in the synagogue as a practicing Jew, heals the sick, drives out evil spirits and prays privately. People immediately noticed that Jesus spoke with authority and healed with Divine power. Jesus explained the Scriptures with complete confidence, and when questioned by people, he answered with authority. Jesus used his real (authentic) Divine authority to teach, empower, liberate, and heal others. The evil spirit mentioned in today’s Gospel recognized Jesus as the Messiah and acknowledged him as such. Jesus commanded the evil spirit harshly, using strong words and tones: "Be quiet! Come out of him!" This was another reason Jesus developed a reputation for speaking with authority.
1) We need to approach Jesus for liberation: Jesus did not use his authority and Divine power to rule and control people. He came to make people free. Hence, let us approach Jesus with trusting Faith so that he may free us from the evil spirits that keep us from praying and that prevent us from loving others and sharing our blessings with others. Jesus also frees us from all the “evil spirits” of fear, jealousy, envy, addictions, compulsions, selfishness, anger, resentment and hostility. May he free us from all those spirits which make us deaf, dumb, blind, lame and paralyzed, physically and spiritually.
2) We need to use our God-given authority to build up lives. So many people with authority have made a lasting impression on our lives either for good or bad. Perhaps it was a grandparent, an uncle, or a parent, who loved us and cared for us. Perhaps it was a Sunday school teacher who encouraged us in our Faith and exerted a positive impact on our lives. Perhaps we remember the kindness as well as the firm discipline that a schoolteacher gave us. Teachers are powerful because they change and mold lives. Hence, let us all become good teachers like Jesus and use our authority to mold young lives in the right way.