HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
HOMILY THEME: THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS – THE ABSOLUTE
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
First reading – Deut. 18:15-20
Second reading – 1Cor. 7:32-35 Gospel – Mk 1:21-28
In the day’s gospel, people marveled at the kind of teaching with authority displayed by Jesus. The word authority is a word we need to analyze. We must differentiate it from the word power. One may have the power, but not the authority which implies the right to exercise the power. To explain further, the altar boys can (they have the power to) put on the priest’s vestments and bring out the Blessed Sacrament. But they would not do it because they do not have the authority given to them by the Church.
If I still remember my Government during my secondary school days, we may have different kinds of authority namely:
Political- ——given to you by the populace through an election Traditional – the one you inherited from your parents
Technical- —-due to a kind of knowledge you posses
Delegated- — You have been asked to take up a duty Charismatic –due to your personality
Positional – —authority due to your position
Legal – ———given to you by the constitution
Coercive – —–taken up by force
When we talk of the authority of Jesus, we are trying to answer the questions as to what kind of authority does Jesus posses. Why were the people wondering about such authority? The authority to teach, as known by the Jews were meant for the Scribes and the Pharisees who were teachers of the law. They had always questioned the authority of Jesus as “what authority have you for acting like this”- Matt. 21:23. And when Jesus healed the paralytic in Mk 2, they also murmured among themselves saying “How can this man talk like this” Mk 2:6-7, meaning, where He got such authority. In Matt 28:18 Jesus declares: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. The fact is that Jesus does not just posses the authority, He is the authority itself. Anyone therefore, to whom Jesus gives authority is the one who has it. In the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus, Pilate, although the power was given to him to condemn and release Jesus, never realized he had not the authority Jn 19:10-11.
There are powers on earth which may threaten us. What I know for sure is that their powers are not the final. “The devil has power” is what we usually say, but he does not have the authority. And even the power is given to him just as Pilate was given. Such powers have limitations. It could be withdrawn at any time. In Job 1:6-12, God gave Satan a limit -” Yahweh said to Satan, “all he has is in your power. But keep your hands off his person”, which means the devil MUST NOT cross this boundary. There must be an end to that torment of yours. Hence every problem has an expiry date.
The authority of Jesus is not any of such type we mentioned earlier. Christ’s authority is that which I call "Absolute authority". This authority comes from the fact that it was He who caused all things to be. You can have an absolute authority only over that which you caused to be. Jn 1:1 tells us that there is nothing created which was not created by Him. He who created you has the final say over you. In Acts 12:6-11, Peter’s case was already concluded by those who thought they had such authority to conclude an issue that was beyond them. They forgot there was the last man, Jesus, who had the final say, and who had not spoken yet. And when He spoke, Peter’s story changed. People may say that your case has been concluded. They might see you as a “finished with”; I mean, they may say you cannot survive again, you can never get married again, and you cannot have an issue anymore. The question is, has the Last man spoken yet? In Rev. 1:17, He declares Himself the First and the Last.
Many people find themselves under some kind of chains like that of Peter or the demoniac who Jesus set free in the gospel of today. Such chains could be sickness; it could be unjust government, unkind family relatives, and chains of poverty, charms, and very important, chains of sin. When Jesus speaks as he did in today’s gospel, when He commands “Be quiet! Come out of him! Every chains fall asunder. He is the first in your life; I mean the cause of your being. How could anything else, how could anyone else who had no knowledge of how you came to be claim to be the one to determine how you would end? All you need to do is to make the Lord the First in your life as the message of the second reading tells us. The God who created you has a purpose which must be accomplished. The prophet Jeremiah assures us: “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” Jer1:4.This same God of your life is the only one who holds the keys to your life –Rev. 3:7. When He opens for you, no one else can close, and when he closes, no one else can open. His authority is the Absolute.