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4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): The Power To Act

 
 

Last week we heard about Jesus collecting disciples to travel with him. In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear about what happens in the first place they go.

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.

The Sabbath is Saturday, the seventh day of the week. It is the day of the week that is holy for the Jewish people because in sacred scripture God rests on the Sabbath from the work of creating. In creating our beautiful world, God only has to speak a word and the universe begins to form. God speaks and it is done. God's voice causes things to happen. On the Sabbath, God rests, and sacred time is created. Time that is holy. Time for God.


On the Sabbath, for sacred time, Jesus goes to the synagogue where the Jewish people gather to listen to the Word of God and to pray. At the synagogue, he teaches.

They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Curiously, St. Mark does not tell us what Jesus says when he teaches. He just tells us how Jesus teaches. He teaches as one who has authority. What does this mean? St. Mark uses the Greek word exousia which means, "the power to act." When Jesus teaches, the people feel like he has power to act. We wonder what this sounds like. Where does Jesus get this power? What will he do with his power?

Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”

Can you imagine being at church and someone standing up and shouting these words? Perhaps the people in the synagogue get startled by this man who comes "just then." There is something wrong with him. He is not the whole person God created him to be. Something unclean dwells within him and being near Jesus seems to make him upset.

But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.

Jesus does not wait a moment. He does not want this man to live with this unclean spirit. He wants the man to be whole. Immediately Jesus speaks. And immediately the man is whole again. Now he is the person God created him to be.

They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

Ah! The people notice something. Jesus teaches with authorityas one who has the power to actand now they see this power in action.

Jesus speaks and it is done.

Jesus' voice causes things to happen.


Just like God.


What do we see here? Whose authority does Jesus have?


St. Mark shows us that Jesus has the authority of God who speaks and it is done.

And he also shows us how Jesus uses that power.


Does he use it to make himself so great?

No.

Jesus specifically tells the unclean spirit to be silent, to stop talking about him.


Jesus uses his authority to make the man clean,

to make him whole,

to restore him to the person God creates him to be.


And the good news?

Jesus continues to use his authority in the same way today.

Each timeevery timewe go to the sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus uses this authority.

Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

Like the disciples, like the people in the synagogue, like the man with the unclean spirit, we spend time listening to Jesus teach with authority. We listen to the Word of God. When we listen, we start to realize that some of our choices make us unclean, make us not whole, make us not the person God creates us to be.


But we know more than the unclean spirit. We know that Jesus does not come to destroy us because we make bad choices. We know how Jesus uses his authority, so we go to the sacrament of Reconciliation. We say our sins out loud, we say we are sorry, and the priest listens to our words—the ears of God.

Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

Then the priest speaks with the voice of God:


absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


And it is done. God takes our sins absolutely away.

Just like he does for the man in the Gospel today,


Jesus makes us clean,

Jesus makes us whole,

Jesus restores us to the person we are created to be.


Amen.

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