As we continue to dissect and reflect on the writings of Mark depicting Jesus who speaks with authority, we can imagine John the Baptist feeling ecstatic as described in the gospel last Sunday. John as the forerunner of Jesus, knew very well how Jesus’ presence resonate his embodied authority over all the demonic powers. He announced the coming of the messiah without a trace of doubt since he knew for whom Jesus spoke and acted. He was thrilled and filled with joy because the authority of Jesus would liberate souls, and bring newness to mankind. John labored too much for such renewal to happen. It was inevitable, however, learned leaders at Capernaum Synagogue felt threatened by Jesus authority. They got intimidated and envious of his power especially since it captivated the people into realizing the deeper meaning of authority in Jesus’ morph of teaching.
As Jesus made himself known through miracles he performed exorcism- a satirical act to liberate the human flesh from evil inclination through the purification of the soul. The authority that is used to corrupt the dignity of a person has to be driven away. Thus, exorcism was performed to eliminate any possible settlement of demons into a body that eventually dominates one’s life. In fact, in the gospel, the evil spirit recognizes Jesus as the Son of God whose authority would put an end to his unwelcome dwelling inside the body of the spiritually anemic person. The people were astounded on the way Jesus preaches that somehow triggered to question the credibility of the learned teachers in the Synagogue.
On the other hand, we need not excavate theological insights as we go through the lines of the gospel. What is precise here has been announced by John the Baptist in the preceding chapters that Jesus coming is an inauguration of the reign of the Kingdom. Jesus authority would bring newness to the face of the earth, and thus give clarity to the meaning of life. It appears invasive because it meant crossing boundaries and restructuring the law. Being reborn to the newness of life is a reality in each of us today as we acknowledge Jesus authority over the path we take and the people we meet along the way.
In the recently concluded visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines, many people were astonished of his authority. Even the non-Catholics were among the throng of people to see the Holy Father in flesh and blood. To have a glimpse of his face in just seconds along the streets where his mobile car passed by, it was more than enough for millions of people to feel joy in their hearts, some were screaming, others were crying because they were overwhelmed of their faith. Many liberating reactions and confessions on that day of encounter with the man who embodies the authority of Christ.
The Philippine government had to ensure the safety of the Pope as he crossed borders to encounter the people. Like Jesus, there have been threats of his life coming from authorities whose power to govern people are in questioned. To this day, the successor of the seat of Peter, Pope Francis is the authority of Christ. No sturdy threats, decisive as it is could twist this truth! He continues to serve, liberating and empowering troubled and wilting souls, and in so doing, he continues to offend other authorities who felt their credentials are undermined by the power of Christ radiating from the Holy Father.
Nevertheless, following Jesus, Pope Francis knew of whom he speaks and acts thus he has no fear of traversing borders and unintentionally reversing orders in every corner of the world for it is through it that he could spread out with authority the message of forgiveness and compassion of God.
We too are asked to evaluate our authority over people we live with. We might be imposing things to them that hinder them to fully appreciate the freedom to live and grow in the love of Christ. We might feel intimidated if one in the community would appear more credible than us. If we sense honestly ourselves subscribing authority apart from that of Christ, then, the message of Jesus in this gospel today is of great help to stop us from inflicting further damage to our soul and to others. Jesus is inviting us to resist evil. We ought to be strong and never say, “this is me and there is no way to change it” or “we are destined to be such”. Apparently these are manifestations of being tired and hopeless in the inevitable battle in life. It is however good to be reminded of the authority that flows from the love of the Father to the heart of the Son. It is the authority of the heart of Jesus that liberates us from whatever destructive powers that continue to afflict our souls and snatch our freedom.
Loving God, teach us to carry Your authority in service to our brothers and sisters especially those who suffered under the enchaining power of the devil. May Your loving presence would give us hope to be free from bondage and allow us to live life to the full by your loving presence. Amen