#Authoritative is the reflection for February 1, 2015. What is most striking to the people who heard Jesus? It may be as easy as black and white. Who can you trust? Find out more by listening to the reflection. It may change the way to think about and talk to God. #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #Authoritative #Help # Hope
For listener supported MySpiritualAdvisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 2/1/2015 The 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 1:21-28.
Basalt. It is a rock that is formed out of volcanic lava which turns a grey to black color. It can be shined, like the picture that is above the script of the podcast. We know that people made buildings out of materials that happened to be handy. Why else would people in Kansas in the great expansion to the West Coast plant themselves and make sod houses? What we often forget is that Palestine is mountainous. In Capernaum, the main material available at the time of Jesus is Basalt. Consequently, all the buildings are grey/black and smallish by today’s standards.
In the midst of these smallish black basalt buildings stood the synagogue, in which the setting of today’s story from the Gospel of Mark takes place. It was sixty foot long and had a gabled roof. This is much different than the flat or lean-to roof line of the other buildings. To distinguish the synagogue from just any building in the village of Capernaum even more, the people there built the synagogue out of white limestone. The place where they went to worship, hear the word of God read and the teaching on the Word was a place set apart. The visuals must have been striking.
I can imagine walking into the village and getting accustomed to the grey/black of the basalt buildings. Then, I turn the corner and see the synagogue in its contrasting stone. I could even imagine myself having my breath taken away. Incredible.
Similar to this striking visual of the synagogue in Capernaum was Jesus teaching in that same place. In fact, all the things that happen in Capernaum in the Gospels, which were many, were striking. Mark stresses the fact that Jesus’ actions in Capernaum are done by one who has authority. It is interesting that we find a possessed man in the synagogue confronting Jesus. Even in Jesus’ day, there was evil in the Church alongside the good.
There are always hard times in our lives. Or, there may be times when we are doing great. We may handle things great. We may have gotten to the point where we don’t let things ruffle us too badly. Yet, there is always something to deal with. We may run into all kinds of trouble. Or, we may have all kinds of good problems to have. We may be running along doing a lot of work and our only worry is to get rest. Whatever our situation, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone we knew had authority in our corner?
For the people in Capernaum, it was striking the authority with which Jesus spoke to them. Usually, they had a Pharisee, who was a lay person that studied the scriptures and gave some teaching about them, but was clear that the scriptures were the authoritative source. Unlike the Pharisees, we have Jesus whose presence is authoritative. He is able to teach like he wrote it, because he did. He was able to face the evil in this world and command its removal, and it was. He spoke and it happened, just like in Genesis and the creation.
It is the evil one, the demon in the story, that points out who Jesus is. There will never be a time when you do something well and evil is not close at hand. It has been my experience the better and more faithful you do something, the more evil is at hand. It ought not be a surprise that we would find evil in the Church because that is where there is also the most good.
John Henry Cardinal Newman left everything at Oxford to become Catholic. He left his friends in Anglicanism to do what he thought he needed to do. When he did, he was treated horribly at the hands of the Catholic Church. For decades, until Leo XIII became pope, Newman was shunned and given the worst of jobs. Was it jealousy? Probably. Was it selfishness? Possibly. Was it pride? Definitely. In those times, where do we go?
We go to where Jesus is in our lives and we listen to him. If even the evil spirits of the world acknowledge that Jesus is the “Holy One of God,” we can too. The more we go to Christ through the reading of Scripture, through daily prayer, through the listening to the council of our spiritual director, and through the reception of the Eucharist, we grow in faith and become more open to God. The more we do these things, the more we realize that when we start living our lives, and live them for God, the context of being part of Jesus Christ changes our ability to make it in this world.
When Jesus Christ is the authority in our lives, our lives become stronger, bolder, livelier, and more joyful. If we pay attention, encountering Christ can be as striking as that white limestone synagogue in the midst of basalt buildings.
We begin to ask ourselves, “Why did I listen to those people instead of the Lord?” “Why did I doubt myself when he is the King of the Universe?” “Why did I think I was no good when I was made through him and for him?” “Why didn’t I say what should have been said to honor him?” “Why didn’t I say a healing word and ask if I could pray for them?” “Why didn’t I walk as someone who has the authority of Christ at my back?”
We don’t follow any teacher, we follow THE Teacher. We don’t have any friend, we have THE Friend. We aren’t in a relationship with any lover, we are in a relationship with THE Lover of our souls. We are not bowing down to any power hungry lord, we bow down to the Lord who first lowered himself to become one of us. Exemplary, that is Jesus. Authoritative, that is Jesus.
We ought to seek his healing for our souls. We ought to draw from his authority to live our lives through the hard times and the good times.
So, bring whatever it is that you have today and place it before Christ and listen for his wisdom. Lean on the one who heals those possessed of demons. Walk with the one who carries you when you cannot walk. Be amazed by the one who teaches with authority, unlike so much in our lives.
Let us pray, Lord, we often come to you as if you are an insignificant thought, a guiding principle that is nice and easy. Help us to be honest with you about who we are, what we have done and what we have failed to do. Give us the strength we need to live as your disciples, filled with the authority you bring as Master of the Universe. Amen.
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