Readings: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 95; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35;
THEME OF THE READINGS
Christ, the Eternal Word of the Father, is an authority
unto himself (First Reading). He comes into the world and
enters the hearts of his eager hearers through his teaching.
He also liberates those possessed by demons with the power
of his word. We are called to heed the Word
and not to harden our hearts, as the Jews did
at Meribah, but to greet him with thanksgiving (Responsorial Psalm).
In true Marcan
style, the Gospel presents us with glimpses of Christ.
It shows Christ keeping his audience “spellbound by his teaching
because he taught with authority and not like the scribes.”
Christ’s voice commands awe and respect, because it is the
Word of God that spoke, “making its own rounds, seeking
those worthy of it, and graciously appears to them in
the ways, and meets them with all solicitude” (Wisdom 6:16).
When Christ commands the demon to leave the possessed man,
he makes no reference to the long, complicated exorcism rite
common amongst the Jews of the time. That old Jewish
rite, like all exorcism rites is two-fold: it implores God’s
action and then, in God’s name, commands the demon to
depart. Christ has no need of this, because he is
the Word and hence authority itself. He has no need
to implore God’s authority – he is God.
Christ knew this, and so did the demon. If the
demon wasn’t certain about Christ’s identity before the exorcism, he
surely discovered it when he met his match in the
Holy One of God. The demon’s torment becomes wonder
for the people. Christ’s new, authoritative teaching was not lost
on his hearers, for his reputation spread throughout Galilee.
But enough about Christ’s authority over demons, let’s
talk about its relation to us.
not only imparts truth to us in his teaching, he
also gives us the help we need to understand and
accept it. A good but merely human teacher works from
outside, and hopes his message will enter us. Christ’s word,
on the other hand, can enter inside us and reach
our minds and hearts if we let him; with our
assent, it can clear all obstacles and permit us to
fully accept the truth of his word. His action is
intimate and profound, reaching every dark and hidden part of
our minds and hearts. He even moves our souls to
help us accept his word and act upon it.
Christ’s teaching is acceptable only through the gift
of faith. No amount of human reasoning, even by the
brightest of minds, equals a humble act of faith by
the simplest of souls. Christ offers the gift of faith
which “comes by hearing,” as St. Paul says. Christ did
not only merit for us the theological virtue of faith
and the other virtues and gifts, he also obtains them
for us and produces them in us –
if we so choose. While Christ imparts his teaching to
us through the Gospel, the Church, and our study of
the truth, he is acting in our souls at the
same time, enabling his word to take root in us
and grow. He gives us the sensus fidei, a sort
of intuition of divine things (cf. LG n.12). This is
God at work in a soul faced with the truth.
He moves our intellects with the gift of faith, and
enlightens them with the gift of the Holy Spirit called
The Holy Spirit enlightens our intellect
with the gift of wisdom, and Christ concurrently enkindles in
our will the fire of divine love (caritas) so that
his word would be not only known, but loved as
well. This is best seen when Christ taught the
two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Here, wisdom
aroused charity in them, causing them to exclaim “Did not
our hearts burn within us while he spoke along the
Such is the authority
of the Word.
St. Therese of Lisieux says “the Teacher of teachers
instructs without sounds or words, and though I have never
heard him speak, yet I know he is within me,
always guiding and inspiring me; and just when I need
them, lights until now unseen, break in upon me.” If
we are in a state of grace, and our wills
are disposed to be taught by Christ, Christ readily acts.
Christ’s Spirit instructs our souls, fulfilling his promise that “The
Paraclete, whom the Father will send in my name, he
will teach you all things, and remind you of all
everything I have taught you” (John 14:26).
The Word comes to us, and the Holy Spirit, living
in our souls, helps us to live the Word’s desires
– even down to the banalities of daily life. But
in order to ensure that none of this is left
to our subjective tendencies, imagination, natural inclinations, or prejudices, Christ
gives us the Church. “The Church,” says De Lubac “is
Christ in time.” He has entrusted the Church with
the task of preserving his doctrine and transmitting it unaltered
Since Christ is our Lord
and Teacher, we must accept everything he says. All salvific
truths taught and revealed by Christ have been deposited in
the Church. His word is active within the Church, present
in the Gospels, and at work deep within our consciences.
It is not enough for us to
have the treasure of our Catholic Faith, we have to
explore it, to profit from it. That done, we conform
ourselves to it, “occupied with pleasing the Lord.”