Scripture: Lectionary #72. Fourth Sunday, Jan.29. Deuteronomy 18:15-20. Psalm 95:1-2. 6-7.7-9. I Corinthians 7:32-35. Mark 1:21-28.
Saturday’s Readings Ed. Note: Father uses a different set of readings for his reflection than what is scheduled for use in the United States.
Jesus as Teacher is one of the titles given to him both in Mark and Matthew. In fact, Matthew is the one who emphasizes this role of Jesus more than the other Gospels. Today, however, in Mark we see our own discipleship and the ones in Jesus’ time responding to a call from the Master Teacher. Through this call to discipleship we are constantly being formed into the likeness of our Master. Discipleship is seen in a relationship that eventually leads to the experience of Jesus in a deepening of our love. Mark tells us that Jesus is different from other teachers in that he does his teaching with great authority. The word used for that authority is ex-ousia meaning that it comes out or from the person himself in Jesus the Wisdom Teacher. “Jesus’ authority was bound up with the mission he had received from God: in him it was to be found as perfect trust and startling freedom. It was by means of it that he cured the sick, drove out demons and proclaimed the Good News.”(Xavier Leon- Dufour).
Without Jesus as our teacher there is no discipleship. As learners we are to be attentive to his words and actions as proclaimed to us in the reading of the Gospel. Jesus teaches only to educate, that is, to make us entirely his disciples in our attitudes, our actions, and our thoughts.
In our first reading from Deuteronomy we are near the end of the narrative about Moses and who will succeed him as the next prophet leader and teacher to take the people of Israel across the Jordan River into the Land (Ha Aretz). Though Moses will die soon, his teachings will be kept alive then and now. The words of the Lord said through him endure forever and help us in our growth as disciples of our great Teacher Jesus.
A large part of being a disciple is the ability to listen to God and to listen to our neighbor or our brothers and sisters. The Psalm used for our response today is centered on Moses instruction. The lesson given is “It today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Oh, that today you would hear his voice and enter into the rest of the Lord.”
In Corinthians we see the apostle Paul teaching his people in Corinth to be attentive to the call to discipleship. He does not say that one has to be single or married to do this. He lets the Corinthians know when he is giving a teaching directly from divine inspiration or giving us a divine command and when it is merely his opinion or advice. This is a characteristic of good teaching. Not controlling the student(s) or disciple, but helping one to grow into the likeness of Christ as he himself has done. In this little section of I Corinthians he is one who teaches some good moral lessons by encouraging the listener and not forcing anything that is not from God upon us.
Returning to the pericope for this Sunday, we realize that the power of Jesus is in his teaching voice as he commands the demon to be quiet and to come out of the one possessed. The people who heard Jesus and listened to him in the synagogue were aware that this a new teaching that they have not heard before. Wisdom, power, and love are seen in Jesus the new teacher, the new Moses.