January 12, 2021
by Amy Hoover
Creighton University's Retreat Center
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 306

Hebrews 2:5-12
Psalm 8:2, 5, 6-7, 8-9
Mark 1:21-28

Celebrating Christmas

Today’s gospel from the first chapter of Mark has me thinking about authority.  In this early story of the gospel, Jesus is very quickly setting himself apart from others.  People are noticing that he is different.  He is teaching something new and with authority.  I am trying to imagine what that would look like – a stranger teaching with authority.  It strikes me that there must have been at least two things going on.  There was something visible/energetic about Jesus to capture people’s attention.  The word that comes to mind is charismatic.  But for the people to notice, they must have had something going on in them, a hunger or longing, that allowed their hearts to be open and searching for something to fill it.  They had to be receptive to the message and messenger. 

For someone/something to have authority in our lives, we have to give it to them.  Many times when we give others authority, when we trust them or elect them or look to them, they abuse the authority or trust.  Take advantage.  As I was thinking and praying with all this, it occurred to me that Jesus did just the opposite.  The people in this story were praising him, recognizing his authority and responds by helping, encouraging us to hold our own authority.  He healed the man with the unclean spirit.  Essentially, he returned the man to himself.  I think of the dignity that he returns to the woman caught in adultery and the living water he gives to the Samaritan woman, both stories in the Gospel of John, as other examples of this.  All throughout the gospels people are trying to raise him up as king, and in return he is healing and inviting us to reclaim our own authority, dignity and power.

We are invited into relationship with the Divine through Jesus.  I believe Jesus is showing us that the relationship is not one of giving all our authority to him, but the encouragement to maintain our own authority and power and work with him.  For example,  I hear myself praying, “just tell me what you want.” The response I hear now is “What do you want?  I will work with you.”  In my spiritual direction practice, I often hear people pondering/praying/asking what God wants of them, what is “God’s will” for them.  I hear an invitation from Jesus in today’s reading and many others in the gospels to ask instead, what is the heart’s desire/will.  Jesus is encouraging us to claim and live from our own interior authority.

Where/How else might Jesus be inviting us to reclaim our personal authority? 

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