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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Jan. 29, 2012

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

January 29, Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9

2) 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Gospel: Mark 1:21-28

When I was in graduate school, I worked as a teaching assistant to a faculty member of the university who from time to time would impart to me some bit of wisdom born of her teaching experience. When I despaired of ever having the same sort of competence in the classroom as she demonstrated, she was quick to tell me that no one in his or her first year of teaching has all of those abilities.

She had developed a rule of thumb: The first-year instructor barely stays a step ahead of the students, often relying heavily on the authority of the chosen textbooks; the second year typically brings a bit more ease, but it is usually in the third year that an instructor sufficiently "owns" the course material to teach with confidence. The practice of repetitive teaching and the deepening of the instructor's own understanding help to develop a teacher who can teach with his or her own authority.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus' hearers were amazed at his teaching. Usually, a first-century rabbi, or teacher, would rely on the influence of other famous teachers. Jesus did not, but instead spoke with his own authority. Furthermore, his teaching was followed immediately with action, as demonstrated by his commanding an unclean spirit to depart from an afflicted man. Although Jesus is a prophet from among their own kin, as the Book of Deuteronomy promises, this personal authority is the hallmark of the one whom Mark's Gospel claims from its very first statement is the "Son of God."

Although we are 2,000 years removed from Jesus the rabbi, we who are baptized into the life of the Son of God also are given the authority to speak and act in his name. To do so with confidence doesn't require an advanced degree from a university; rather, it requires a deepening relationship with Jesus. It is a relationship that anyone can nurture through a greater understanding of his words and by the repetitive practice of those actions that are consistent with his teachings.


How confident do you feel in your authority to speak and act in Jesus' name? In what way can you deepen your relationship with Jesus and thereby become an active messenger of his good news to the world?


"He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes." (Mark 1:22).


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