1ST READING Dt 18: 15-20 // RESPONSORIAL PSALM PSALM Ps. 95 // 2ND READING READING 1 Cor 6: 7: 32-35 // GOSPEL READING Mk 1: 21-28
The gospel today is about Jesus curing of a demoniac in the synagogue of Capernaum in a Sabbath. The unclean spirit in the demoniac complained and cried out knowing who Jesus was. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and commanded saying: “Quiet! Come out of him!” Immediately the unclean spirit came out of the sick man.
Jesus’ word is with authority! … We may ask ourselves the question: have Jesus’ words a power and authority in our lives? We can reflect on this (in this celebration of the Eucharist).
Modern medicine and the postmodern people of today, including Scripture scholars, would say that the demoniac in today’s gospel was most probably a case of epilepsy, or the man was epileptic. However, during the time of Jesus, ordinary people thought that the man was possessed by an unclean spirit. In fact, the people in Jesus’ time did not think that the possession of evil spirits only occurs with those who had epilepsy, but also with those who had other illnesses.
Did Jesus, who is “the Holy One of God”, know that it was not a case of possession of the unclean spirit? Or did Jesus also think like the ordinary people of his time, that those sick people were possessed by the evil spirits?
Jesus is 100 percent divine or God. Surely, he knows everything. However, Jesus is also 100 percent human so his knowledge of people’s sickness and medicine was not perfect, just like that of the ordinary people of his time. We cannot really know exactly what Jesus knew, especially during that moment in the Gospel. If he knew that it was not a case of possession of the unclean spirit but a sickness of epilepsy, because his knowledge was perfect, then how do we explain his act of exorcism?
William Barclay, a Biblical Scholars, offers a possible answer. He says that Jesus stooped down to the level of the understanding of the people of his time, and to the level of the mentality of the demoniac in order to facilitate the cure and to evoke their faith. According to Barclay, this is one of the method of healers or doctors even today to stoop down to level of the feelings and understanding of their patients, in order to start their cure and to evoke confidence in their patients.
This being said, we may agree or not with Barclay’s answer because we cannot really ascertain the level understanding or knowledge that Jesus had in that story.
Authority of the Words or Teaching of Jesus in Our Life
We must come to the main point that we are focusing in this reflection. The Authority of the words and teaching of Jesus.
The Person of Jesus Christ – Source and Locus of Authority
In a basketball game suddenly, the referee loudly blows his whistle “Prrriiittt!!!” and he shouted “Foul!!!” The game stops; every one obeys the referee; and the player who was fouled was awarded two free shots. The word and action of the referee was with power and authority.
The authority was not in the whistle nor the word “foul”, themselves, but was in the person of the referee. If one of the audiences has a whistle and blows it, and he shouts “foul!” The basketball players, playing in the court, will not obey that man in the audience, and the game will continue. The whistle itself nor the word “foul” per se has no power or authority. It is the person of the referee who has power and authority.
In the same manner, Jesus Christ’s person has the power and the authority – and not merely his words and teaching. His words and teaching have power only in our life, if we have Jesus’ person in our lives, or we have an ongoing relationship and are partaking his very life in us, or we have incarnated his words and teaching daily in our personal life.
To Incarnate and Make Present Jesus Christ in Our Christian Life
One may read the gospels and may memorize all the words of Jesus, but if he/she does not believe in Christ and has no personal relationship with him; or if he/she does not act or live out Christ’s words and his teaching, the Gospel and the words of Christ have no power and authority in and for him/her.
This is because the person of Jesus Christ is not present or does not dwell in his/her life. It is the existence and presence of the person of Jesus Christ in one’s personal life that makes Christ’s words and teaching powerful and with authority in one’s daily life.
The power or authority originates and resides in the person of Jesus Christ. Faith in him and partaking his life or making him resides in our personal lives, makes Christ’s words and teaching powerful and with authority in our world today.
How do we put on Christ and make him dwell in our lives?
We should know his words, deeds and person. Then, we should learn and act on his words, imitate his deed, and develop the virtues of his person. Or we should have an ongoing personal relationship with Jesus. We should faithfully do all this in our lives.
Brothers and sisters, let us incarnate the Word and put-on Christ in our life, today and forever.