True authority Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Mk 1:21-28
21 Jesus and his disciples came to the town of Capernaum, and on the next Sabbath Jesus went to the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people who heard him were amazed at the way he taught, for he wasn’t like the teachers of the Law; instead, he taught with authority. 23 Just then a man with an evil spirit came into the synagogue and screamed, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Are you here to destroy us? I know who you are—you are God’s holy messenger!” 25 Jesus ordered the spirit, “Be quiet, and come out of the man!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man hard, gave a loud scream, and came out of him. 27 The people were all so amazed that they started saying to one another, “What is this? Is it some kind of new teaching? This man has authority to give orders to the evil spirits, and they obey him!” 28 And so the news about Jesus spread quickly everywhere in the province of Galilee.
Other readings: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
The Evangelist Mark likes telling stories about Jesus to shed light on who he is. Usually each story contains one main message. Jesus has true authority: this is the message which comes out loud and clear from today’s reading.
Jesus had come to Capernaum, an important city in the north of Palestine. As a good Jew he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath where he started teaching. The people in the synagogue were amazed. He spoke with an authority quite unlike the teachers of the law.
Then a man controlled by an evil spirit screamed at Jesus: “Are you here to destroy us? I know who you are – you are God’s holy messenger!” Jesus demonstrates his authority again. He commands the evil spirit to be quiet and to come out of the man. The evil spirit has to obey, but before leaving it shakes the man hard and screams again.
The people now regard Jesus even more highly. Not only does he teach with authority but even evil spirits obey him. News about what happened spreads quickly throughout the whole region.
Consider why the people noticed a difference when Jesus spoke. Can you think of a reason why the evil spirit said Jesus was “God’s holy messenger”? Was the intention to cause confusion and undermine Jesus’s ministry? Why did Jesus command the evil spirit to be quiet?
Jesus didn’t deny what was said about him. But he did not want his identity to be revealed in this way.
Consider how the man is treated by Jesus and the evil spirit. What does this tell us about how God treats people and how the Devil treats people? In what way did the evil spirit’s outburst backfire?
Repeat the words of today’s responsorial Psalm 95, verses 6-7: “Come, let us bow down and worship him; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! He is our God; we are the people he cares for, the flock for which he provides. Listen today to what he says.”
Thank God that he cares and provides for us. Ask him to help you hear his voice in the midst of life’s busyness.
Today we can contemplate who Jesus is. The first reading presents part of Moses’s speech in Deuteronomy 18:15-20. Moses promises that God will raise a prophet who will only tell them what God wants to say to them. Moses contrasts this prophet with the many magicians and false teachers who pretend to be God’s messengers.
In the second reading, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, Paul’s concern is that we give ourselves completely to the Lord’s service without any reservation – just like Jesus. Paul comments that this can be difficult for married people because they also want to please their husband or wife.
Lectio Divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word
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