Once a government survey worker brought his equipment to a farm, called out to the farmer and asked permission to go into one of the fields and take measurements. The farmer vigorously objected, fearing that the survey was the first step toward the construction of a highway through his land. “I will not give permission to go into my fields,” said the angry farmer. Whereupon the survey person produced an official government document which authorised him to do the survey. “I have the authority,” he said, “to enter any field in the entire country to take necessary readings.”
Unlike from this story when the authority and power come from paper with some authorised signatures. The Gospel today mentions the authority teaching in a very different context. The people of Capernaum normally receive the sacred instruction or guidance in their synagogue every Sabbath. One Sabbath they had a different teacher, Jesus. What Jesus taught them that day, as well as the way he presented and demonstrated His message, simply astonished them. Why? It is because he taught them as one who has authority and not as the scribes (v. 22). Jesus’ teaching contrasted sharply with the scribes: with authority.
But the question for us to ponder this week is that where did Jesus get the authority from?
First, the teaching of Jesus is from the heart and not just from the head. He teaches with absolute conviction in His message because He knows that His message is in accordance with the mind of God. As He says in the Gospel of St. John when trying to persuade His unbelieving audience, “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony,” (3:11). His preaching is a personal testimony of His intimate relationship with God, His Father. Unlike the scribes, they got their knowledge not from their personal communion with God but from their long and intricate study of commentaries on the Law. As a result, most of their teaching is from the head and not from the heart.
Secondly, the teaching of Jesus inspires a positive change of heart to the hearers and not just to make the people feel bad, or condemn anyone in particular. Like for example, the man born blind. The scribes seek to explain why he is blind, whether it was he who sinned or his parents. Jesus, on the other hand, is only interested in curing the blindness. For this reason, Jesus performed healings together with His teachings to show that His primary concern is to change the human situation and not just to explain it.
So that, with this weekend’s readings; Jesus invites us to re-focus ourselves to his authentic teaching where the authority must come from the daily examples, not only merely come from the directive words.