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HE TAUGHT THEM WITH AUTHORITY: A reflection for the 4th Sunday in Ord. Time Year B
By Fr. Donatus Okeke
Sat, 27 Jan 2018

As a young boy, whenever we discuss the activities of those in governance, we differentiate between leaders who govern with authority and rulers who rule with power. Although, often used interchangably, the words 'power and authority' have different meanings. Authority has to do with the legitimate capacity one has to perform a task. Power is the ability to act using physical force. The word for 'power' in Greek is (dunamics). It is from this word we get 'dynamite'. It refers to energetic force, demonstration of physical strength, power, might. 'Authority' in Greek is 'exousia' and it is used in the sense of privilege, capacity, right given to someone over another. It refers not just to power but position. Authority is attributed to the recipient while power is self assumed. In Igbo Language, while power is "ike", authority is "ikikere".

We begin by asking ourselves, do we use authority to convince people or do we use force to achieve our aim?  As parents, do we still have authority over our children? As those occupying public positions, what do we use to rule: authority or power? In our daily activities with one another do we force people to do our will? Moses as a prophet In the First Reading, acted with authority and announced that the one coming after him will still act with authority. Jesus Christ in today's Gospel, taught with authority.
"And they were astonished..."

The Gospel records that the people were astonished as Jesus taught them in the synagogue. Why were they astonished? Recall that this was the first public teaching of Jesus recorded by Mark, he just selected his disciples last Sunday (Mark 1:14-20). So, what was so amazing in the teaching of Jesus? In the first place, we must note that astonishment is one of the basic characteristics of the evangelist Mark. Throughout the Gospel according to Mark, we notice some sort of astonishment after the healing or teachings of Jesus. In the case of today's Gospel, they were astonished because His style of teaching was quite different from that of the scribes. Jesus taught something new. His interest was not just in mesmerizing the people with the scriptures (as the scribes did) but, on moral values.  Their astonishment were increased more after he drove the evil spirit away. Thus, his teachings were reflected in his miracle(actions).

We learn here that we need to witness to the Gospel not just in words but in actions. Knowing the scriptures alone or answering the name Christian is not enough. Some parents, teachers, elders can no longer instruct their children or those they are in charge because they have soiled their hands in front of these.
"And he taught them with authority..."

The height of today's Gospel is that Jesus spoke as someone who had authority. He was not speaking on behalf of God but, speaking as God. He did not begin by saying "thus says the Lord.. " but, with command. The authority of Jesus comes from himself - as God. Jesus taught with authority because he spoke with conviction. He attacked the religious authorities (Scribes and Pharisees) courageously because he stood for the truth.

Authority is not to be forced on people, you acquire it. For us to gain authority and confidence of the people, we must have to stand for the truth. Our political leaders have failed in this regard. Majority of them have loosed their authority and intergrity, they just rule with power.
"I know who you are, the Holy one of God..."

The unclean spirit seemed to know the identity of Jesus more than his disciples. The unclean spirit knew that Jesus was not just of Nazareth but, from God. Jesus however rebuked him. One begins to wonder, since this evil spirit was aware of the mission of Jesus, why did he try to disrupt the activities of Jesus?
We have to be careful of those around us. Some people call us friendly names yet, they have malicious intentions. The devil may appear as a friend to lure us into sin. The devil may be aware of our gift and he will plan to use that against us. With his authority, Jesus was able to recognize and rebuke the unclean spirit. We must not allow the desires of the flesh cause us to offend God. Let us be careful of praise singers.
Beloved in Christ, for us to be in charge of our environment, we need authority. The leaders (Religious, Political, Traditional) parents, teachers and elders must make sure that they live worthy lives, so that they do not lose their authorities. This will be like just occupying an office without portfolio.
May God help us!!!


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