AUTHORITY FROM RELATIONSHIP
Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28
Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, had a quarrel early in their marriage. Albert walked out and went to his room. Victoria followed him. She found the door locked and began pounding on it.
“Who’s there?” Albert asked. “The Queen of England,” was the reply. The door remained locked.
More pounding followed. There was only silence. Then a gentle tap. “Who’s there?” Albert inquired. Victoria replied: “Your wife, Albert.” Albert opened the door immediately.
What opened Albert’s door and heart was not the authority that came from the power and status of the Queen of England, but an authority that came from relationship.
That is the kind of authority that Jesus had.
After the call of the first disciples (which we heard last Sunday), Jesus continues his public ministry by teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, and by casting out an unclean spirit. The people are astonished because he taught and healed as one having personal authority unlike the scribes who derived their authority from their role/status.
The crowd cannot identify the source of this authority. The unlikely voice of “a man with an unclean spirit” does: “I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”
At the end of Jesus’ ministry, after his death on the cross, another unlikely voice—that of the Roman centurion—will identify Jesus: “This man was the Son of God!”
Jesus derived his authority from his intimate and personal relationship with his father.
Jesus’ exercise of this authority, too, was different.
He told his disciples: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their officials flaunt their authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant… For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”
He powerfully demonstrated this: by his compassion in feeding the multitude, by reaching out to the marginalised and the sorrowing, by washing the feet of his disciples, by cooking breakfast for them on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
From where do I derive my authority: from my role/status and power/prestige or from my relationship with my God? How do I relate with others: from power or through relationship? How do I exercise the authority I have?
(By Fr. Dr. Vinod Mascarenhas SDB)