Power, Authority, and Love
My dear sisters and brothers,
“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.”
It is said:
‘When you want to rule the people around, you need only authority of love;
You need authority of power when you want to harm the people around.’
‘Jesus taught them as one having authority’…What did Jesus do with his authority?
Jesus uses his authority in teaching…
We can understand Jesus’ authority in two senses:
1. Teaching with authority of love,
2. Teaching with authority of power, &
3. Not as the Scribes.
1. Teaching with authority of love:
The Mission of Jesus is authority of love.
In other words, we can express that it is the kingdom of love.
That is the reason, Jesus approaches everyone with love and compassion.
To have authority of love, we need to accept ourselves wholeheartedly.
In the words of Jesus: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
Who are our neighbours?
All those who are powerless, loveless, lonely, marginalised, poor, downtrodden, needy, hungry, sick, possessed by material devils, selfish, faithless, orphans, abandoned and so on.
Jesus taught them with authority of love to reach out to all these kind of people.
He is not bothered about his name or fame.
The authority of love does everything that can benefit the other.
Jesus’ authority of love reaches out to the little ones in society.
Jesus shows us that we spread the kingdom of God, when we do good works in love.
Actions are good ways to teach others.
Jesus teaches them with authority of love.
2. Teaching with authority of Power:
Jesus uses the authority of power to drive out the devils…
‘Jesus rebuked him and said,
“Quiet! Come out of him!”’
Jesus wants to cast out the devil from him.
Jesus uses the authority of power to drive out the evil spirits from the society.
Jesus’ authority of power is used to drive out the evils of any society.
Jesus has zero tolerance towards devilish actions that harms the ordinary people and little ones.
What a beautiful thing…
Jesus’ authority of power is meant for the devil…not for his loving people.
People are governed by love.
Devils are governed by power.
We become a part of the devil when we use authority of power in our lives to harm others rather than loving them.
Instead, we need to use the authority of power to drive out evils from oneself and society.
Yes, dear sisters and brothers,
Jesus teaches them with authority of power.
Power is devil.
Love is human.
We have love to care for oneself and others.
We have power to drive out devil from oneself and from others.
3. Not as the Scribes:
Having shared the above reflection, let me go further to reflect with you…the sentence, where we read in the given Gospel text:
‘The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.’
The sentence says: ‘Jesus taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.’
The aim of the Gospel should be not just to explain, to teach and to preach to the world but to change the world.
The people of Capernaum received sacred instruction in their synagogue every Sabbath.
One Sabbath, they had a different teacher: ‘Jesus’.
What Jesus taught them that day, as well as the way he presented and demonstrated his message, simply amazed them.
‘All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.’
“They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22).
Jesus’ teaching contrasted sharply with that of the scribes.
In one word, Jesus taught with authority, the scribes did not.
What does it mean to teach with authority?
When we compare and contrast the teaching of Jesus with that of the scribes we notice three distinguishing qualities:
A. The teaching of Jesus is from the heart and not just from the head,
B. The teaching of Jesus focuses on love and not on the law, &
C. The teaching of Jesus has a positive change of heart in the hearers not guilt.
In other words, we can say it in the following ways:
A. Heart Vs Head...
B. Love Vs Law...
C. Change Vs Guilt...
A. Heart Vs Head:
Jesus teaches from the heart.
He teaches with absolute conviction.
He teaches with total commitment.
He teaches with in accordance with the love of God.
He teaches a personal experience with his Abba.
He teaches an intimate relationship with his Father.
He teaches his personal communion with the creator.
His teachings come from his pure heart.
On the other hand, the scribes get their knowledge from their head/mind.
There is no personal relationship with God.
They teach what they study for a long period.
They teach the study of commentaries on the Law.
As a result, most of their teaching is from the head.
Their teachings are not from the heart.
They teach how to apply the portions of the commentaries to the situation at hand.
The heart is the symbol of love.
The head is the symbol of law.
B. Love Vs Law:
The second difference between the teaching of Jesus and that of the scribes is in the content of the message.
Love comes from the heart.
Law comes from the head.
The scribes seek to apply the prescription of the Law to the letter.
Jesus goes deeper to find out the spirit of love, the original intent of the law.
As a result, Jesus could discover love that the law seeks to protect.
At the same time, the scribes are busy themselves with words and their nanoscopic applications.
Let us examine the law of Sabbath observance.
The scribes are busy themselves trying to determine precisely when the Sabbath begins and ends and how it applies in the minutest way.
Jesus rather seeks the love of God.
God gave the law of Sabbath as an expression of His Fatherly love to His people.
People recognised the teaching of Jesus and his message changes their heart for good.
In contrast, the message of the scribes brings guilt feeling as a heavy burden.
C. Change Vs Guilt...
The third and final difference between the teaching of Jesus is change of the heart.
And the scribes is guilt-feeling.
Jesus’ teaching is always intended to bring about a positive change of heart in the people.
Whereas the scribes just make the people feel bad about whatever they do.
When we think about life, we must remember that ‘No amount of guilt can change the past’.
Therefore, the scribes teach whatever makes sense in terms of their understanding of the Law and Traditions.
Jesus, on the other hand, teaches that which makes a positive change of the heart.
Let us have an example for our proper understanding from the Gospel according to Saint John (John 9:1-41).
Jesus saw a man blind from birth.
Jesus is only interested in curing the blindness.
For the same reason, Jesus performed healings and exorcisms together with his teaching.
It is to show that his primary concern is to bring about a change of the heart and the human situation that people live.
The scribes, on the other hand, seek to explain why he is blind, whether it was he who sinned or his parents to make the man blind from birth, as guilt for his blindness.
Some questions for our personal reflection:
What is our attitude towards Jesus’ teaching?
What is our experience with his Word that we hear every day in our lives by reading and reflecting the scripture entirely?
Do we allow Jesus’ authority of love to rule our hearts and others?
Do we allow Jesus’ authority of power to drive out all evils from our society?
Does Jesus’ teaching touch our hearts?
Does Jesus’ teaching allow our hearts to love oneself/ourselves and our neighbours?
Does Jesus’ teaching change our hearts?
Let us pray that God’s grace and blessing come upon us so that Jesus’ teaching through the Word of God, may bear a good fruit in our lives changing our hearts to love all like Jesus did in his life time through his mission of building the kingdom of God, with the authority of love and casting out the evil from all men and women and from the society by the authority of power.
May the Heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all. Amen…