For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012818.cfm
I suspect we all know people who could be described as “windbags.” These people talk a lot, but say very little. On the other hand, we all probably know individuals who, when they talk, people listen. They speak with a wisdom and authority that causes us to take them seriously. Twice in this Sunday’s Gospel we are told that the people were “astonished” and “amazed” at Jesus’ teaching because he taught with “authority.” What this suggests is that when Jesus spoke or taught people, listened because inherently they knew that his words were not mere opinion, but had a depth and power to them.
Tucked in between the people’s words of astonishment at Jesus’ teaching is the encounter between Jesus and a man with an unclean spirit. The unclean spirit recognized Jesus, but Jesus rebuked him and said: “’Quiet! Come out of him!’ The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.” The exorcism of the unclean spirit helped to demonstrate Jesus’ power and authority.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Deuteronomy. In it Moses tells the people “A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen.” In the Old Testament God communicated with God’s people through the prophets. In the New Testament, God spoke to God’s people through Jesus Christ. Jesus, though, was not just another prophet. He was and is the Word of God given form and flesh and spoken into our world and our individual lives.
Our second reading this weekend is taken from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. Like the section we read last weekend, this weekend’s reading seems to anticipate the imminent return of Christ. Given this, Paul tells people he would like them to be “free of anxieties” so they can adhere to the Lord “without distraction.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- When have you encountered someone who spoke with authority? How did you feel when you heard their words?
- Have you ever felt the words of Scripture speaking to you with authority?
- What anxieties do you need to be freed from?