They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
In the synagogue of small-town Capernaum, Jesus creates quite a stir today. He astonishes the faithful with his teachings, he awakens a screaming demon spirit, and then sweepingly commands the man’s soul become calm once again. Here was an impressive new preacher and healer: the villagers marveled at his surprising authority.
Authority? What could this mean? Authority could refer to power—being able to work with the precision of jail guards, controlling every visit and heavy steel door. Authority could also refer to credentials— proof that someone can “walk the talk” and thus deserve to keep talking.
Given Capernaum’s exciting events, I wonder if Jesus’ authority was a third kind, less about credentials or power: perhaps he simply surprised them. Perhaps his preaching and healing witness was so fresh it opened their eyes, provoked new thoughts and challenged their minds…
What would it take for God to surprise me today?
—Garrett Gundlach, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic from the Wisconsin Province. He is completing his philosophy studies at Loyola University Chicago.
today can feel a lot like yesterday
and the day before that,
but help me to remember,
but help me to live as if
Today is brand new.
Surprise me, O God,
so that my eyes, my ears, my heart and my mind
which all expect yesterday again
are, instead, pleasantly surprised and challenged
by today, a new day,
where you will break in
with invitations to me for new life
with invitations to me for new joy
with invitations to me for new hope-
I hope to meet your surprising love today,
this new day. Amen.
—Garrett Gundlach, S.J.Please share the Good Word with your friends!