A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark
Then they came to Capernaum,
and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said,
“Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Good News Reflection:
This Sunday’s Gospel reading illustrates the authority of Jesus. If we truly accept and understand his authority over our lives, we can rejoice in the Lord even when life hands us hardships.
Why? Because we know that Christ’s authority is supreme, which means that everything we’ve placed under his authority will produce good fruits. Even bad situations will be transformed into blessings. Tragedies will be changed into triumphs. Sorrows will be transfigured into joy. Frustrations will lay the groundwork for new growth, new knowledge, and a greater ability to minister to others.
However, if we reject Christ’s authority by acting as if we’re the ones in charge, deciding for ourselves how to end a problem or how and when to escape from a hardship, our problems will only get worse. Pope Francis wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Gospel of Joy (Evangelii Gaudium, paragraph 64) that this leads to a feeling of disorientation instead of joy. He noted: “We are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data — all treated as being of equal importance — and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment. In response, we need to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values.”
The path to joy has been forged by the footsteps of Jesus. To benefit from his authority over evil and over human sufferings, we have to follow his example and obey his teachings. This means choosing to trust him, realizing that his ways are the best ways even when they’re unpleasant ways. It means that we’re willing to reach resurrection glory by going through the cross with Jesus.
There are no successful shortcuts to the triumphant victory that awaits us. There is no easy way to overcome evil. If this were not true, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to die on a cross.
The good news — the reason why we can rejoice — is that the most loving, most powerful, most wise One in the universe is using his supreme authority on our behalf. The question is: Will we submit to it?
Questions for Personal Reflection:
In what ways are you still rejecting Christ’s authority by trying to do things your own way? Which Church teachings have you been rejecting because you’ve decided to live by your own rules? Are you willing to ask the Holy Spirit to change your mind on these matters and teach you the value of Christ’s ways?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
In what ways do Christians often reject Christ’s authority in favor of defining their own rules? Why? What are the apparent risks to living completely under Christ’s strict authority? How can we replace these risks with a sense of safety?
Thank You, Jesus, for facing evil and defeating it on the Cross! I apologize for the times that, without knowing how much I hurt myself, I wrote my own laws and rejected Your Love. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica