Tuesday, 1st Week in Ordinary Time              

            “What is this? A new teaching with authority.”

            Many people have exercised their authority in our lives. Webster Dictionary defines authority as being, among other things, a “power to influence thought and opinion… practical personal influence… convincing force.” So, the people who exercised their authority in our lives are those who influenced the way we look at ourselves and the world. And in a more profound sense, they are the ones who influenced us to be better persons by making us feel great and by helping us grow. They brought out the best in us.

            That is what real authority does. Real authority is growth-giving, affirmative, positive, and helpful. The word itself is an indication of this. Its root is a Latin word augere, meaning “to make grow.”

            That is precisely what happened to the people in today’s gospel when they were listening to Jesus in their synagogue. In today’s gospel, Jesus’ authority is seen in action. The people are astonished and marvel at Jesus’ teaching: “What is this? A new teaching with authority.”

            People began to understand their own possibilities. Jesus made them realize that they were called by God to greater things than they ever thought possible. His authority achieved something what all authority should achieve: foster growth and empower people.

            G.K. Chesterton once said, “Greatness is making others feel great.” This is absolutely true with the greatness of Jesus: He makes others feel great. He uses his power to empower people – especially the least, the lost, and the last.

            The greatest ministry that we can exercise is not simply to be charitable to others. It is far more difficult to enable and empower others rather than simply to care for them. Again, this is our greatest challenge: To find ways to empower others… to find ways to make others feel great.

            May we have the kind of authority Jesus exercised. May we help others grow – mentally, morally, and spiritually. May we make them realize their possibilities and potentials. May we influence them to be better persons. May we empower them and bring out the best in them.

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