With Great Authority

Did your mother ever say any of the following to you?

  • I could plant potatoes in those ears.
  • I’m not your maid.
  • If your friends jumped off a cliff does that mean you have  to jump too?

Perhaps these phrases are familiar to you as well

  • Just wait till you have kids of your own
  • Don’t talk with food in your mouth
  • You weren’t born in a barn, so stop acting like you were
  • And of course I am sure you have heard, if not uttered, the all time classic
  • “Because I’m your mother, that’s why!”

Each of these statements are expressions that have been passed from generation to generation. They are expressions of authority – the authority of a parent over a child.

Authority however is weaker in some people and stronger in others. We have all heard parents who say things like “I really mean it this time” and known that it means nothing. Equally, we have heard others say simply and quietly – “Children, come” and seen an entire brood tumble into the room, waiting for what is to be said next.   The strength of a person’s authority comes from the strength of the Spirit within the person. Further, the Spirit within a person can be good, or it can be evil- exercising its authority negatively not only upon other  but also upon the person in whom it resides.

Today’s scripture readings are about authority and power . The gospel reading concerns itself with the authority that Jesus held – an authority that allowed Jesus to command evil to depart and to teach in a manner unlike that of the scribes and Pharisees.

As Christians each one of us is granted authority by God to speak in his name, we are called by Jesus to go out and to preach, and teach, and heal; to care for others and to show them God’s love. Jesus even gives the authority to forgive the sins of others in the name of God, saying to Peter “what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and what you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven..” [Living Liturgy 2021]

Jesus gives to us a tremendous power, a tremendous authority.. All true power and authority, that power and authority that creates and heals, and does good instead of evil comes from the Lord that is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. All other power and authority is either a corrupted version of this true power and authority, or it is the power and authority that comes from pure evil.

In the gospel reading today we see a man who possessed by a demon. The people around this man surely knew what he needed. Demon possession is pretty obvious stuff. Those who are possessed are no longer in control of themselves. They are sick – not in a way we normally think of sick -but sick anyway – and it causes them to do things that they do not want to do, to behave in ways that they do not want to behave.

Those around this man knew he needed to be healed, that he needed to have the demon cast out – but none of them could do it. They may even have said to one another – “its too bad about that poor guy, someone should do something about it”. Kind of like what we say about a lot of situations.

  • Someone should do something about violence in the schools.
  • Someone should do something about the hungry in the third world.
  • Someone should do something about battered women.
  • Someone should do something about all the kids who go on welfare.

Then Jesus came – and he commanded the demon to come out of the man – and it did. The spirit obeyed him and the man was healed. Jesus had the authority and the power needed to make a difference. He had the authority and power of God, a power that can change any situation, heal any person.n Jesus still has this power and this authority. And he offers it to us. He calls us to use it to do the work of God in this world. He calls us to employ it to heal, to teach, to bring justice, and to grant mercy.

When we put ourselves at Jesus disposal. When we go forth to speak his word. When we act according to the teachings he has given us. When we pray and study on the word of God and ask God to use us – even us – to accomplish his will. The demons around us will begin to disappear.

The trick is – we need to get in tune with what God wants us to do and say. And this requires that we spend a large amount of time seeking out the will of God.

Adapted from Renew International Prayer Time Year B