January 28, 2018 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Jesus, the astonishing

It’s really easy to assume we know who Jesus is: Son of God, died on the Cross, rose from the dead, healed the sick, turned water into wine, multiplied the loaves and fish, ate dinner with sinners, brought a dead guy back to life…you know, the usual. Those are kind of the “flashy” things about Jesus, the stuff he did that’s memorable and often depicted in stained glass windows and paintings.

But what about the simple Jesus? What about the “boring” Jesus? What about when Jesus just sat around with people and talked? Because let’s face it: that’s probably what he did most of the time. He entered into a town, sat down, and preached. Jesus was first and foremost a teacher, unpacking the Scriptures with his fellow Jews and sharing with them how he was the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecies and promises from them.

It’s easy for us to forget about that teaching Jesus, because it’s not flashy or glitzy. But, in the time of Christ, when Jesus was teaching and preaching and healing and doing all the things we read about in the Scriptures, all of it was amazing, all the time.

In this Sunday’s Gospel it says that the crowds were “astonished” at Jesus’ teaching. They’re shocked by what he had to say, not just because he was saying things that were often challenging (and maybe even a little confusing), but because he spoke with authority. Jesus didn’t reference the writings or commentaries of other people: he was the very source of the teaching himself.  He was revealing these great truths on his own divine authority, because he is the living word, made flesh, present to the people in that moment. Those words were written about him: the Word. He didn’t need anything or anyone to back him up: he’s the very authority backing anyone else up!

This was tough for the crowds to understand, so difficult in fact that a man possessed by a demon was uncomfortable by Jesus’s presence and cried out in anger and hatred. So, Jesus does what he always did: he threw that demon out of the possessed man, healed him, and wowed the crowds even more. Even though the hard-hitting teaching and speaking with authority was enough to impress the people, he also cast out a demon, showing them further his divinity and power. The people were amazed.

Here’s the challenging part to this entire Gospel: do we need the flashy, miracle-performing Jesus to prove his power to us again and again, or are we also amazed, even happy with, the Jesus that sits and teaches us, present to us not because he can do something miraculous, but because he simply wants to be with us?

Do we sit in darkness, waiting for a bright, flashy, blazing light? Or do we realize that the light grows in brightness slowly, as truth is revealed to us by the one who is the light himself?

Jesus is never boring: he is always astonishing, amazing, and always approaching us personally, inviting us into relationship and wanting to love us completely.  That should amaze us, and help us recognize that he is truly the Son of God.

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