As we have been discussing over the last few weeks, the Gospel of Mark provides us with a intriguing insight into the humanity of Jesus and his disciples. In today’s passage, however, Mark reveals to us the nature of Jesus’ divinity. The reading is a repeat from January 13, when it was a weekday gospel. Our reflection on that date was focused on how hard it sometimes is for us to recognize Jesus in the hustle and bustle of our lives, while the demons possessing the man instantly recognized Jesus. Let’s look at the passage.
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.
Last night I heard a remarkable homily on this passage preached by Monsignor Michael Schleupner that cast the gospel in an altogether different light. His focus was answering the question of where the authority of Jesus arose from. He concluded that the true authority that Jesus taught with wasn’t something given to him by others. His authority did not depend on what he said. It didn’t depend on what he did. Instead, his authority arose out of his being, his nature. In other words, Jesus had authority to teach as a natural extension of who he was, the Son of God. How interesting that the demons who possessed the man in the gospel understood this very well. After all, he is the character in the passage who appreciated who Jesus was, as evidenced by the statement, “I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
What does this mean for us? It means that spiritual leadership, in our family, workplace or any other ministry opportunity, isn’t something that we can earn through our own efforts. In the end it doesn’t matter what we say. It doesn’t matter what we do. The only thing that matters is who we are. This is what resonates to others. Are we followers of Jesus, submitting ourselves to his will? This is the example that will bring positive change to those in need. Without him, our works and words mean nothing.
With him all things are possible.