Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (José Antonio Pagola)

Ross Reyes DizonHomilies and reflections, Year BLeave a Comment

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A new teaching

The episode is surprising and breath-taking. It takes place in the “synagogue,” the place where the Law is officially taught and interpreted by authorized teachers. It happens on the “Sabbath,” the day when practicing Jews come together to listen to the commentary of their leaders. It is in this framework that Jesus begins to “teach” for the first time.

Nothing is said about the content of his words. This is not what is of interest here, but rather the impact that his intervention produces. Jesus provokes astonishment and admiration. The people pick up something special in him that they do not find in their religious teachers: Jesus teaches them as one having authority not as the scribes.

The scribes teach in the name of their institution. They hold to their traditions. They quote time and again distinguished teachers from the past. Their authority stems from their function of interpreting the Law officially. Jesus’ authority is different. It does not come from any institution. It is not based on tradition. It has another source. It is full of God’s life-giving Spirit.

They are going to verify this very soon. Unexpectedly, a possessed man interrupts his teaching with shouting. He cannot bear the teaching. He is frightened: Have you come to destroy us? That man felt fine listening to the scribes’ teaching. Why does he feel threatened now?

Jesus does not come to destroy anyone. His authority lies precisely in giving life to people. His teaching humanizes and frees from enslavements. His words are an invitation to trust in God. His message is the best news that interiorly tortured man could hear. When Jesus heals him, the people exclaim: What is this? A new teaching with authority.

Polls indicate that the Church’ word is losing authority and credibility. It is not enough to speak authoritatively to announce the Good News of God. It is not sufficient to transmit tradition correctly to open hearts to the joy of the faith. What we urgently need is a new teaching.

We are not “scribes,” but rather Jesus’ disciples. We have to communicate his message, not our traditions. We must teach by healing lives, not instructing minds. We need to announce his Spirit, not our theologies.

February 1, 2015
4 Ordinary Time (B)
Mark 1, 21-28

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