YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: DIVINE AUTHORITY
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY: R1 – Deut 18:15-20
RESP PS – 95:1-2,6-9
R2 – 1Cor 7:32-35
GOSPEL – Mk 1:21-28.
Joe Biden, after few hours of his inauguration as the 46th president of the United States of America on January 20, 2021, signed more than a dozen executive orders into law, in the White House. Among the orders signed, was rescinding of Trump’s immigration policies which reverses and nullifies Trump’s travel ban on citizens from over a dozen countries, including Eritrea, Yemen, Nigeria, and Sudan.
Such executive orders took effect and remain binding, because it came from a competent man of Authority, empowered by the nation’s mandate to lead, speak and represent a nation with the population of almost 330 million people, the USA.
Beloved in Christ, the central theme of this Sunday’s liturgy bothers on Divine Authority, which God has vested on each of us at different ecclesiastical capacities and categories to speak for and represent Him (prophetai), both as lay faithful and as clergymen.
Today’s first reading tells us that a true prophet like Moses speaks with authority because it is God Who speaks through him.
In the second reading, St. Paul exercises his God-given authority as the chosen prophet to the Gentiles to teach people in Corinth that marriage is a holy state ordained by God and that it is a life-long partnership according to the teaching of the Lord. But he opts for, and recommends, celibacy, so that one may serve the Lord without the “distractions” of married life.
In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus participating in the public worship at the synagogue as a practicing Jew, where he taught the scriptures with confidence. The people immediately noticed that Jesus teaches with authority because of how he answered their questions with mastery and equally heals with Divine power.
The evil spirit recognized and loudly declared Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus harsh command Be quiet! Come out of him! exorcises the demon who departs, obedient to His Divine Authority.
*THE DIVINE AUTHORITY OF JESUS*
A true prophet of God, is one sent and empowered by God Himself to speak and represent God “προφηται”
(prophetai-to speak for). A prophet is accompanied by the Divine authority to communicate God’s plans for his people. In Today’s Gospel passage, Jesus manifests Himself as a man of authority, in the words of the first reading; a prophet sent to represent God before the chosen generation. Jesus, like Moses, tells the people directly what God had to say. In between is an exorcism, pointing out a connection between Jesus teachings and his supernatural authority. The dramatic healing of the demoniac by an authoritative word is a demonstration of Gods reign and Power in their midst. And the people recognized it as such.
*TEACHING AND EXORCISING AUTHORITY OF JESUS*
Every of Jesus’ healing and liberating process, begins with the ministry of the teaching, that is, breaking the word of God; because, healing and liberation begin from the heart.
There at the Synagogue, a place of instruction and Sabbath prayers, which consisted of three parts prayer, the reading of Gods word, and the exposition of it made by anyone who wished to do so, (Meanwhile, scholars say the one to teach at the Synagogue is being appointed)
Jesus taught with authority. This means that Jesus explained the Scriptures with complete expertise and conviction, and when questioned by the people, he answered with authority. Such gestures, exemplify the importance of the word of God in our lives as believers.
The teaching of Jesus was preceded by exorcism. Jesus, according to the Gospel text, exorcised with Divine authority: thereby, showing that He is the Messiah, “Anointed and commissioned to bring good news to the poor, liberation to the captives and to announce the year of jubilee” (Is.61:1-2; Lk.4:18-23); The Savior, more powerful than the demons and Him alone can liberate us from the shackles of unclean spirits and every infirmity and uncleanness.
(1) WE OUGHT TO USE OUR AUTHORITY TO LIBERATE OTHERS
(2) WE NEED TEACHERS LIKE JESUS WHO KNOW HOW TO USE THEIR AUTHORITY PROPERLY.
(3)WE SHOULD APPEAL TO THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS FOR LIBERATION
1. *WE OUGHT TO USE OUR AUTHORITY TO LIBERATE OTHERS*
The first basic demand that requires our attention from the readings of today’s liturgy is, “Whether we really use our God given mandates to build up lives or destroy them.” In the Gospel reading, we see Jesus, who did not use his authority and Divine power to intimidate, rule over, molest, malign and control people, rather, he used His authority as the Christos (anointed messiah) to liberate and set people free.
In Nigeria today, many people in power, use their authority to impose “operation Python dance, crocodile smile, useless curfews that endanger the safety of the poor masses. Remember:
Abraham Lincoln used his Divine Authority as a prophet to proclaim the freedom of all the slaves in the United States on January 1, 1863.
Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu used his prophetic voice to drew the world’s attention to the dangers and injustices of apartheid.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta used her prophetic Divine power to draw the attention of the opulent to the poor.
What do you do with your own Divine authority as a CEO, Manager, Man of God, Politician, Chairman, President, Teacher, Mentor, etc?
These prophets tried to bring the reality of the sacred into every sphere of the human experience.
2. *WE NEED TEACHERS LIKE JESUS WHO KNOW HOW TO USE THEIR AUTHORITY PROPERLY.*
So many figures of influence with authority have made a lasting impression on our lives, either for good or for bad; ranging from our parents, uncles, teachers, Catechists, formators, parish priests, etc., who have loved and encouraged us in matters of faith, morals and intellectualism. Hence, let us all remember, at every stage of our lives, that we are people of influence, and should become good teachers like Jesus and use our authority to mold young lives in the right way.
So today, when we hear that Jesus entered the synagogue at Capernaum and began to teach, we need to take note: Jesus never entered as a Jewish Scribe, Pharisee or High Priest. They never called him, “a priest,” rather; they called him “Rabbi,” which means “teacher.” Let us all become good teachers and use our authority to mould young lives in the right way.
3. *WE SHOULD APPEAL TO THE AUTHORITY OF JESUS FOR LIBERATION*
Jesus, by demonstrating His healing power and authority, manifests himself as the “Christos” (anointed one). By overcoming the Evil One, Jesus equally shows that He is the Messiah, the Savior, more powerful than the demons. The demoniac cried out, What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
This indicates that Jesus alone can heal, cure and drive away every iota of demonic manipulations and occultic interferences in our lives. We hereby, ask ourselves, “Where do we run to, when our lives are besieged by the manifestation of unclean spirits and when we experience challenges in our lives, businesses, families, marriages and various walks of life?
Many of us run after fake prophets who do not have the Divine authority to set them free. Rather, we run into satanic agents that all wear suits today in the name of “powerful men of God,” where they are taken to shrines, rivers, ring roads, bathed in river and streams in order to makes sacrifices to the kingdoms of darkness, in the name of liberation.
Finally, a friend and classmate of mine, a brother priest, met a “powerful man of God” in a commercial bus, while travelling to Lagos. The man of God after some powerful prayers imbued with myriads of bible quotations, turned to my friends who is a priest and prophesied, “Child of God, I see a big Goliath trying to stop your blessings and shatter your business. You have been given a burial date, but the Lord has sent me to prophecy to you that the burial will not hold. In fact, a ga- arụ ọrụ n’isi gi.
My friend stood aghast and dumbfounded. He then publicly declared, “Enyia, I am a Catholic priest. Which business are you talking about, fake and deceptive man of God?”
At the juncture, the irate passengers in the bus, burst into laughter of mockery, and almost lynched the “fake powerful man of God” who hurriedly alighted from the bus.
Beloved, Let’s go to Jesus, by whose authority everything came into being for our liberation and cleansing.
MAY GOD GRANT US THE GRACE TO MAKE JUDICIOUS USE OF OUR POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY IN BUILDING UP LIVES AND EMPOWERING OTHERS, AND TO RECOGNIZE JESUS AS THE ONLY SOURCE OUR LIBERATION AND HEALING, AMEN.
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR. GERALD MUOKA_