Teaching with authority, By Sr Delia Monrose SSM, Grenada
Jesus “taught them with authority” and “his teaching made a deep impression on them”. In the gospel reading today, the focus is on the quality of teaching: how we teach and what impact our teaching has on others.
A comparison is made between the teaching of Jesus and that of the scribes. The scribes taught with a focus on the law and they did not practise what they preached.
This method of teaching left the people feeling overburdened and crippled. They could not find examples to draw from as they tried to live a Christian life, nor did they experience true leaders, modelling what they teach. They longed for a teaching that was not just mere words but one that was in harmony with good deeds.
The teaching of Jesus was different and more life-giving. Jesus came as a breath of fresh air and a leader who modelled the behaviours He wanted to instil in the lives of the people. He came with a method of teaching that revealed compassionate love and brought hope and life to the people.
His teaching lightened their burdens, and He gave them examples to emulate as He performed miracles and other good works. “His teaching made a deep impression on them” because unlike the scribes “he taught with authority”.
Today, the word ‘authority’ does not always touch the human heart and mind with a pleasant and hopeful feeling. Our religious and political leaders, our parents, and other prominent persons in society, sometimes fail us because their authority is just mere words without truth and positive action.
This type of authority leaves us, especially our children and youth, very confused, empty and with a lack of direction.
We need leaders in our homes, community, and Church today, who speak with authority and create a deep impression on the lives of the people they encounter. We need leaders who are grounded in solid moral and spiritual values, leaders with good character, whom we would have a desire to follow and whose reputation we would want to spread wherever we go.
The gospel reading calls us on a personal level, to be leaders who speak with authority to change, heal, transform lives and be powerful witnesses of the life of Jesus. Today, more than ever, we need persons who are witnesses of the Good News.
We live in an era where experiences of good deeds speak to us more powerfully than words describing good deeds. We want what is being shared with us to be modelled. Only then will we feel that deep impression.
We all possess a level of authority and power to create a deep impression on others. Let us search our hearts and ask: What kind of authority do I use to teach others? Is it one that is meaningless with words of darkness, negativity, and death? Do I use life-giving words to uplift, nourish and affirm others?
Do I teach with an authority that expresses fruits of love, joy, and hope?
Do people experience peace just by relating with me?
What kind of impression do I create on people’s hearts when they listen to me, when they experience my actions and my way of life? Is it a shallow impression of words or a deep impression of good character and good deeds in consonance with my words?
Teaching with authority calls us forth to reach out like Jesus, to those who are lonely, feel rejected and abandoned, feel hopeless, and who are less fortunate.
Our works of charity will help them experience God’s holy presence and “make a deep impression” on their lives.
Our authority will be felt, not by shouting with empty words, not by oppressing the other, but by being powerful witnesses of Christ’s compassionate love and mercy through our good deeds.
The gospel reflections for January were by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, a Catholic congregation of Franciscan religious sisters founded in Rome, Italy, in 1883, who serve worldwide, particularly in the field of healthcare. The Sisters serve in Italy, Austria, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Germany, the United States, Grenada, St Lucia, Tanzania and Trinidad and Tobago.