Homilies, 4th Sunday, Year B

In today’s gospel we see the people of Capernaum recognizing Jesus as a great teacher different from the many other teachers they were used to. His teaching made a deep impression because, unlike the scribes, He taught them with authority. They exclaimed, “Here is a teaching that is new and with authority behind it”.

As His first public action, Jesus appears as a reliable teacher, someone whose teaching and word could deliver people from their demons, i.e. forces that were oppressing them and diminishing their dignity. As a result His authority was found attractive and it left a deep impression to an extent that they started asking what all that meant.
Jesus’ authority was rooted in God and in the Holy Spirit that descended upon Him at His Baptism. His first public words after baptism were: “The reign of God, (the power of God), is at hand”. It goes without saying that God’s life-giving power, that liberating power was at work in Jesus and He was recognized as such. It is the power of God’s love at work in Him – that is what makes a deep impression, attractive and new about Him.

His authority was attractive and new because it was life-giving, it was liberating, it was uplifting, and it was satisfying. It was all embracing regardless of one’s deeds or past. It was forgiving especially those who had done nothing to deserve forgiveness. This is the power of the Good Samaritan who took care of his fellow traveller even though he was a Jew.
It is the power of the Forgiving Father (mother, brother, sister etc) who welcomed his prodigal son (daughter, spouse, parent etc), who had messed up and squandered all his money on a life of wickedness. It is the power of the widow who in giving two copper coins to the temple treasury gave everything she had.
Our Lord’s words awaken in us trust and not fear. His parables attract us towards God’s love, not hatred. His presence makes liberty grow, not slavery. Jesus enhances love for life, not resentment. His teaching is healing as He teaches us to live only out of goodness, forgiveness, and love that excludes no one. His teaching is therapeutic because he frees us from the power of possessions, of self-deception, of selfishness etc. This is what captures our attention and our admiration of the Lord.