JESUS WAS SENT BY GOD THE FATHER TO INAUGURATE THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM
(A biblical reflection on the FOURTH ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR B], 31 January 2021)
Gospel Reading: Mark 1:21-28
First Reading: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalms: Psalm 95:1-2,6-9; Second Reading: 1Corinthians 7:32-35
The Scripture Text
And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and 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.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching! With authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” And at once His fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. (Mark 1:21-28 RSV)
Mark’s Gospel does not tell us what Jesus actually taught, only that the people were “astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). Jesus had authority because He was sent by God to inaugurate the coming of the Kingdom. This authority was seen in everything that Jesus did and said. His authority touched everyone He met.
How did people respond to the authority of Jesus as the Kingdom of God broke into the world through Him? How do we respond? The first disciples responded by leaving everything and “immediately” (Mark 1:18,20) following Jesus; the scribes and Pharisees responded with jealousy and disbelief, eventually persecuting Jesus and putting Him to death.
When Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum, the people were astounded. Mark said that Jesus taught about the coming Kingdom of God wherever He went, but in this passage Mark focused on the teacher, not the teaching. The people saw something of the Kingdom of God in Jesus Himself, since He spoke to them with the authority in the dramatic exorcism of the man in the synagogue. This confirmed Jesus’ authority before the people, as did the many other signs and miracles Mark related in the Gospel. The coming of the Kingdom of God, present in Jesus Himself, was manifest no just in words but also in deeds!
Whatever Jesus said and did, His authority challenged those He met: Disciples followed, people were astounded, demons fled, and religious leaders plotted (see Mark 3:6). In our own lives the Kingdom of God is still breaking in through Jesus as He ministers to us in sacraments, in our prayer, in the word, and in the events of our lives. As we live our days and continue to follow Jesus’ life through the Gospel of Mark, let us ask (as Mark intended), “What is my response and reaction to Jesus? What do I make of what Jesus said and did, and what is He doing today?”
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, You have all authority in the Kingdom of God. We look to You and follow You, seeking the power of Your words and deeds in our lives. Help us, o Lord, to be attentive and to live under Your authority. Amen.
Jakarta, 30 January 2021
A Christian Pilgrim