Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012818.cfm
Our youngest son Bob served as a scribe at a local emergency center. In a patient’s room, the scribe stands in the back, observing every action and recording every important word spoken by the doctor, nurse, or patient. Bob valued the work as he learned about medicine through experience; after two years of witnessing patient care, Bob felt he could even identify a few of the ailments. But as a scribe he had absolutely no power to speak, to diagnose, to prescribe, or to heal—he was one without authority.
This Sunday’s Gospel records Jesus’ early ministry of teaching in the synagogue: “The people were astonished, for He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” Clearly, Jesus broke into the world not as a scribe, but as THE attending physician, the very Word of God, who spoke with all authority. From this very first chapter of Mark, Jesus cuts to the heart of the Scripture, presenting Himself as the healer of God’s people and then supporting His teaching with healings of body and soul—even casting out unclean spirits.
Unlike the ER, initials like M.D. or D.O. are not required for Christian parents to teach with authority. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2221), “The right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.” However, a parent’s authority is substantiated only by authentically living the faith, listening to the voice of God in prayer, reading and understanding Scripture, and remaining close to the heart of the child. Parents with God-given authority have the power to cast out their child’s doubts, fear, sadness or anger.
With God’s authority, parents teach and preach effectively when approaching the child with sensitivity and tenderness—often healing the child’s spirit through sacred conversation. When a child has been shunned, they speak of the meek inheriting the kingdom of God and of the Christian call to stand up for the least and the last—no matter the cost. When a daughter has been ridiculed, they stress her inner beauty and remind her that the clean of heart will see God. When a child has been excluded, they remind him of their unconditional love and his infinite value to God.
When parents teach and preach by naming grace—God’s loving, protective, strengthening, and forgiving presence—they release their child from the world’s judgment. Naming grace heals the child by instilling deep faith and imparting divine self-worth. On the contrary, parents risk hardening their child’s heart when employing harsh words, shame-filled language, or the dismissive, “Because I said so.”
Scribes were essential to the Jewish religion as they copied, letter by letter, the Torah. Yet they held no authority in the Gospel as they failed to recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy. Scribes add accuracy and efficiency to the ER, but without medical education they lack authority to act. Parents are but scribes if they dictate unbearable laws or rattle off clichés. However, when a loving parent knows God’s heart, God’s laws, and God’s Word, the only initials required for teaching and healing as one having authority are M.O.M. or D.A.D. Now that’s good news!
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.