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A synagogue at the time of Jesus, as it is. today, was a place where scripture was read, prayers were said, and instructions were given on the law and the prophets. Any man who was learned with the scriptures could be invited to speak on them to the assembled group.
So, when Jesus was asked to speak, he got up and “taught.”
What became very clear is that Jesus did not rely on the teachings and authority of others, as was customary practice, nor did he rely on the greatest teacher in Israel’s history, Moses, as the final authority. Rather, the authority of Jesus came from his own teaching. Elsewhere he would teach using these words, “You heard it said . . . But I say.” And so the people who heard Jesus were “astonished at his teaching, for he taught ether as one having authority and not as the scribes.”
In order to prove that he had divine authority to teach, he did battle with an “unclean spirit," also known as a demon.
The battle begins with the demon believing in Jesus as God’s Son, “I know who you are.” But belief in Jesus as God’s Son is not enough. One must also submit to God’s authority present in Jesus. This is something that demons will never do
Jesus does not go through loud incantations, or some specialized ritual. He doesn’t need to. All he needs to say over the possessed man is “Quiet! Come out of him!” That is the authority of the word of Jesus — to do what it says.
The unclean spirit doesn’t go easily. He convulses the man and comes out with a loud cry. Then the unclean spirit is gone.
Because Jesus taught with authority, and also acted with authority over demons, “His fame spread everywhere throughout the region of Galilee.”
We can also allow the authority of Jesus over us to cast out the unclean spirits in our own lives. Perhaps we should listen more to his words in Sacred Scripture — they have an authority unlike anything else in this world. And then, as people who are asked to go out into the world and proclaim the Good News, we can tell others, “He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
If we tell others what Jesus has done for us, we trust that his fame will spread everywhere throughout the whole region.
Have a blessed week, everyone.