I’ve always found the issue of authority to be quite mysterious. What exactly is authority and where does it come from? Some of my reading this week has helped me notice a distinction between what we might term the authority which comes from one’s position, and the authority which comes from one’s ability to relate. Positional authority is reasonably easy to observe. A policeman for instance has an authority that comes from his or her occupation. Professional people have a certain authority that comes from their expertise and training. Organizations bestow a certain authority on individuals who act with the authority of that group. These are examples of positional authority.
There is another authority which seems to arise from a persons who a certain clarity of purpose, a transparency about their mission, these people are convincing in their demeanor and seem to demand a certain respect. We might call this a relational authority.
Jesus acted with the latter authority in our Gospel today. Despite the people being surrounded by religious leaders who acted in accordance of their office, they remarked how Jesus taught with an authority that didn’t require any external support. No, the very words that came form His mouth resonated deeply with them. The words of Jesus seemed true and compelling as they were heard. In fact, the words of Jesus had the ability to heal.
At every mass we too have the chance to hear the ‘Word’. Let’s be especially attentive to Jesus this coming week so that we to might be healed of our infirmities.