Inside Authority (Mark 1: 21-28)

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Formation, Reflections | 2 comments

There is a phase to describe what often happens when somebody who is believable begins to talk: “When he or she stands up to speak, everybody listens!” You might say this credible person has a unique authority, understood as an influence coming not only from the sound of the words, but from something deeper inside. It’s a resonance with the truth, a kind of echo with what really matters.

And so, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg: “That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom… that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth.” Or Martin Luther King in Montgomeryville, “How long (will it take for justice to come about?) Not long, because the moral arc of the universe of is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Right at the beginning of Mark’s Gospel, we hear someone addressing a crowd who speaks with authority. He preaches with something more than just the ring of his words, but with a conviction welling up from deep within. This, of course, is Our Lord Jesus, who is not only filled with that authority, but who all through the gospel is enhancing it with his miraculous deeds.

This is the Lord Jesus who is echoing the voice of His Dear Father, His Abba who is God. And to go one further, Jesus is a voice not only from 2000 years ago, but because He has risen from the dead, is a voice speaking God’s truth and love to us right now.

This raises several issues. For one, do I hear these words coming in the present, as being spoken in the here and now? Do I listen to what He’s saying — and what He’s doing — as addressed to me at this very moment? In another way of saying it, this Gospel we hear all year long is not just a biography of Jesus, a book listing His actions and recording His words. It is the Risen Jesus, speaking to you and me in the here and now. Realizing that makes us listen differently. It challenges me to be open and receptive, as if he were speaking to me right now — and not just “as if,” but as it’s really happening in this instant.

A second issue: to whose voices in today’s world do I attribute authority? That is, those not speaking a shallow, on-the-surface sound, but people whose voices ring with the echo of truth and authenticity.

An example would be something Pope Francis said a while ago about a quality he’d like to see in all who serve in the Church, and especially the clergy. “These Shepherds should smell like the sheep.” Those who minister are to be immersed in the world of the people they serve — as opposed to speaking from some far-off height, in a whole other world, and not the one of every day experience. The Pope’s quotable phrase here rings with recognizable truth.

And for us in the Vincentian Family, especially do St. Vincent’s words and writings resonate with that gospel authenticity.

“Speaking with authority,” with words that come from the author – and indeed from the Sacred Heart of that author, Jesus Christ, whose message is coming to us in this present day and time and place. Come Lord Jesus…


  1. Ross

    Tom, thanks especially for this: “words that come from the author – and indeed from the Sacred Heart of that author, Jesus Christ.”

    It helps me grasp better what it means for Jesus to speak with authority.

    • Tom M

      Thanks Ross. And I hear some of that “authorship” coming from you🤗