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Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Thess. 5:1-6, 9-11 & Lk. 4:31-37

Imagine a boy has done something seriously wrong at school. The head teacher punishes him and also sends a letter to his parents. The boy realises he is in double trouble but what a pleasant surprise he has when his parents show him love and understanding. They recognise that he has done wrong and deserves punishment, but they know that he can learn from this experience and it will not be repeated. They don't want this incident to damage their relationship with their son.

This story expresses the words from Saint Paul, "God never meant us to experience the Retribution, but to win salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." In other words, God does not concentrate on what our sinful actions deserve; His only thought is that He never wants any of us to be separated from His love. Our salvation is achieved at a very high cost - the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. This should fill us with wonder and love.

What lesson do we learn from this? God has treated us with understanding, compassion, love and patience, even when we let Him down. When other people let us down we should follow God's example. Sometimes we can be quick to judge and administer punishment, but as St. Paul says, "Give encouragement to each other and keep strengthening one another.” We should take the time in a kind manner to make them see the wrong they have done and show them how to put it right. I am sure this is the way we would like to be treated when we are in the wrong. More good is achieved through patience than through hasty justice.

In today's Gospel we are told that Jesus' teaching made a deep impression on the people because he spoke to them with authority. He spoke with the authority of experience. We respect a person who speaks about something he or she has experienced as, for example, when veterans narrate the horrors on the battlefield. John the Baptist, contrasting himself to Jesus, said, “The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from Heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard ..." (John 3:31-32). And Jesus speaking to Nicodemus about Himself said, "Truly, I say to you, we say that of which we have knowledge; we give witness of what we have seen: and you do not take our witness to be true" (Jn. 3:11). People could sense that Jesus spoke from experience even of heavenly things.

He spoke with moral authority. If a preacher is to exhort hearers to desist from an immoral act then he or she must not commit it! Jesus could dare to unmask the hypocrisy of the Pharisees with absolutely no fear because He was sinless. In fact, He did challenge His adversaries as to whether any could accuse Him of having committed any sin, but none could (John 8:46). People could sense the light of holiness in Jesus' words and deeds.

He spoke with the authority of love. People more easily accept the reproof of those who love them and of whose love they are convinced. They know that the one who reprimands does so for their good. Jesus loved the people and they knew it. He never spared Himself to attend to their needs. All the miracles He performed portrayed, not just His divine power, but also His love. He was the good shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep, and whose voice the sheep knows, just as He knows the voices of His sheep (Jn. 10:14).

Jesus continues to exercise His authority through His faithful ministers: the authority that comes from an intimate knowledge of God, moral rectitude and self-giving love. People who have these speak and make a deep impression on others.

Lord Jesus, as Your teaching made a deep impression on the people of Capernaum because You spoke with authority, may we find this happens in our hearts, too, and that we will follow You steadfastly.

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