Bulletin: January 28, 2018Bulletin
Authority is seen negatively by many, perhaps most, in today’s culture. This perception is the result of humans misusing authority, lording it over people, having an undesirable impact on their personal, professional, and civic lives. So when we read in today’s Gospel that Jesus “taught them as one having authority,” we might initially bristle. Of course, the authority that is attributed to Jesus is different. This is divine authority. God, the author of all, acts out of love for all. God respected the people’s request for a prophet in the time of Moses. They promised to listen to him and to adhere to God’s laws, knowing that the law was created for their good. This is the sort of adherence of which Saint Paul speaks as well when he tells the Christian community in Corinth to adhere to the Lord without distraction. As people who commit to living and growing in faith, we give God authority over our lives, knowing that God will guide us to truth, life, and love.
God Is God
God does not lord divine authority over us, even though God is Lord of heaven and earth. God wants what is best for all of humanity and for all of creation. God desires that we live for God and for others. Jesus teaches as “one having authority and not as the scribes,” because Jesus is the source of whatever authority the scribes had, whether they carried out their authority well or not. Those who heard Jesus speak were in the presence of the very truth of God’s love. There is no greater authority than this. There is more, however. We are given free will, and may choose to live as God desires, or to walk away from the path of holiness. The Israelites to whom Moses spoke had failed to live God’s law of love in the past, and recognized their need for someone to speak the words of the Lord to them. In the simplest of terms, they understood that God is God, and that they were not God.
We are not God. In our hearts, we know this. And yet, how often do we act as though we think we are? We might go to God in moments of weakness, difficulty, or trial and ask God for help, yet much of the time we go our own way. We hold onto a false sense of control, rather than finding freedom in reliance on God. Salvation history, as recorded in sacred scripture, shows us that there has been this tendency in humanity throughout the ages to try to be God, rather than to be like God. Such thinking does not work out well in the end. We are not God! Jesus came to express the depths of God’s love. The authority with which he spoke and taught, healed and expressed forgiveness, is the authority of one who understands that love is the answer. Christ shows us the real transformation that is possible when we give God the authority. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Today’s Readings: Dt 18:15–20; Ps 95:1–2, 6–7, 7–9; 1 Cor 7:32–35; Mk 1:21–28