Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
January 13 A.D. 2009
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 8:2ab and 5, 6-7, 8-9
A reflection on today's Scripture:
They were astounded at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Mark 1:22)
Jesus begins His teaching ministry in the local synagogue at Capernaum.
The story of Jesus' visit begins Mark's account of the first full day of His ministry in Capernaum. This synagogue visited by Jesus, like others of its kind, functioned as a meeting place of the community, not unlike a small town hall. Its principal use, however, was as a prayer hall where people assembled on the Sabbath to hear the scriptures and to pray.
It was the prerogative of the synagogue leader to decide who was deemed fit to officiate at the services, which began with prayers, then moved into a reading from the scriptures, an exposition, and was brought to a conclusion with final prayers and a blessing. The readers were well-instructed members of the assembly, or visitors known to be experts in Scripture. It was natural, then, that Jesus should have been invited to preach the homily.
Mark's focus here is not on what Jesus teaches, but on the startled and excited response of the congregation. They were astounded at His teaching -- see Mark 1:22, and again: "They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, 'What is this? A new teaching, with authority.'" (see Mark 1:27) Not even the Scribes, who were the acknowledged experts in Jewish Law and guardians of the tradition, had ever generated such an impression on them. This is Mark's intent in this scriptural passage: inviting us to look at Jesus through the reaction of His first congregation.
Jesus is the one who exercises a unique authority, emerging from His unique identity as God's own Son. His divine authority must be manifest. And indeed, that authority, evident in word and deed, is shown to have been recognised by His hearers from the beginning, although they did not grasp the full measure of it. The crowds are astonished because they do not understand what is really taking place and Who it is who is in their midst. We as Christians know, with hindsight, that this is truly "the only Son of God."
The authority of Jesus is now illustrated in His command over the unclean spirits: "Be silent and come out of him." (Mark 1:25) Not alone does Jesus teach with wisdom, but also with power. Exorcisms are interpreted in terms of the struggle between the Spirit and Satan begun in the temptation (see Mark 1:12-13) Each specific exorcism in Mark is a particular instance of the unrelenting hostility between Jesus and the spirits of evil, a struggle continued in the life of every Christian.
And so Mark wrote: "Jesus' fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee."
O Lord, you will not withhold your compassion from me,
Your merciful love and your truth will always guard me.
Patrick Doyle |
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
St. Hilary, bishop and doctor of the Church
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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