Last week Mark had Jesus begin his public ministry by inviting people to “repent and believe in the Gospel” and by calling His first disciples. Our Gospel this weekend continues with Jesus preaching in the synagogue and curing a man possessed by a demon.
The Jewish tradition was that, in the synagogue on the Sabbath after an opening prayer, any male could get up and speak about a scripture passage, which is what Jesus did. The people were captivated because He “taught them as one having authority, and not like the scribes.” We hear about his authority twice in this short reading: after his preaching and after his cure of the possessed man.
Since the scribes were the ones who had the “official” authority, people were captivated by a personal authority that came from who Jesus was and how he conducted Himself. The scribes used their authority to lord it over people; Jesus used it to heal and cure, to drive away evil. His authority was a healing authority, not a controlling authority. The scribes would have thrown the MAN with the unclean spirit out of the synagogue; Jesus cast out the unclean spirit, not the man.
The message to us is this: whatever power or authority the Lord has given us, whether it be from a position we hold or our personality and talents, it is given to be used for the good of others, not to exercise control and build ourselves up (which is the way of the world). We need to keep reminding ourselves that all that we are and have came from God and God wants us to use them for the building up of His Kingdom of love, not to enhance ourselves. It is a challenge, especially since our culture can push us to succeed at the expense of others.
I invite us to reflect on how we use the positions, gifts and talents the Lord has given us. Do we use them to lord it over others or to show God’s love and compassion to others? Are we building up His Kingdom with our gifts?
Let our prayer be, Lord, thank you for the gifts you have given me. Help me to use them for others. And let us support each other in prayer.