4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” Those gathered in the synagogue where Jesus taught had never heard anything like this before. They were used to the preaching of the well-educated scribes, but Jesus possessed something that those men lacked: authority. Instead of merely interpreting the laws of the prophets, Jesus presented a new vision, indeed, he shared the good news of the Gospel with his listeners.
We do not have the opportunity to stand in the presence of Jesus in the same way that those first-century Jews did, but nonetheless we can also stand in awe of his authority. His teachings are available to us through the sacred Scriptures that the Church has preserved and through the sacred tradition that the Church carries on. And in a special way, Christ’s authority continues to inspire and guide us through the ministries of the papacy, episcopacy, and priesthood that Jesus established on our behalf while he was yet on earth.
As Catholics, we have a special share in the astonishing authority of Jesus through the hierarchy of the Church. Although this structure is often misunderstood or misinterpreted, it is actually an authority rooted in service and modeled after Christ who told his apostles, “The greatest among you must be your servant” (Mt 23:11).
This humble exercise of authority is contrary to the worldly search for power. And whenever we find ourselves in a position of authority, we too should strive to lead and direct others in the true spirit of Christian love and service. Chances are, if we truly imitate Christ in this way, people will be astonished at what they see.
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