January 14, 2020 – Tuesday 1st Week in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011420.cfm
During my elementary even up to my college days, I tended to fear authority figures. I followed rules and regulations because of fear of being punished by the authorities. In fact, I experienced being punished and shamed in front of others because I had been naughty. Those accumulated experiences of being punished and shamed created painful experiences and even traumatic for me. I have experienced this, both at home and at school.
Thus, my relationship with authority figures was grounded on that fear. I saw them as punishers. Unconsciously, this was how I also related with God. I was afraid of God and afraid to commit sin because of fear of being punished and not because I love God. I realized that this attitude towards my relationship with authorities and with God does not do good to me. In fact, it only prevented me in expressing myself and being true to myself because I began to please authorities.
This experience of mine brought me to the Gospel proclaimed to us today. Jesus appeared before the people and spoke with authority. This means that the words of Jesus contain weight. He commands and people listened and followed. What they felt and saw in Jesus was sincerity and honesty unlike the teachers of the law who merely mumbled the words of God but without life.
Hence, from the very experience of the people they were able to differentiate the authority exercised by Jesus and the teachers of the law. It would be good then for us to look at this briefly and see how God invites us today.
Jesus spoke with authority and the people felt that. Jesus even commanded an evil spirit to come out from a man, and so the man was freed. This tells us that the authority exercised by Jesus gives life and freedom, inspires and motivates the Spirit within us. This means that the authority of Jesus does not condemn but saves.
However, the authority exercised by the teachers of the law condemns and incites fear to the people. They felt that the teachers of the law merely murmured the law for their own benefit but to the disadvantage of the common people. They had created many laws to dominate, manipulate and burden the people. Thus, the authority exercised by them prevented life and placed one person to slavery.
This kind of manipulating and enslaving authority was portrayed through that man possessed by an evil spirit. It is loud, violent yet very fearful. The man was not himself but manipulated by someone else. Thus, in this kind of authority, it takes away the person to experience the grace of life and to be himself freely.
Yet, with the compassionate authority of Jesus, the man was liberated and was given a chance to experience life.
This is the invitation for us today. As we carry our duties and responsibilities every day, as parents, as elder siblings, as seniors to our colleagues at work, as teachers and mentors, as superiors to your subordinates or even just as student leaders at school, we may ask ourselves, how do I exercise authority in my scope of influence? Do I give and inspire life, or do I dominate and manipulate others to incite fear and insecurity?
As Christians, we are invited by the Lord to follow him, and that is to exercise in our own capacity the authority given to us in order to bring life and freedom to others, to inspire and encourage others. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR