Meditation – 28th January 2018

The Deep End – Genuine Authority
‘But man, proud man,
Dress’d in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most
assur’d…’
Measure for Measure – William Shakespeare

We probably wouldn’t have to look too hard for
examples of public figures who seem to fit the above
description. Puffed up with a sense of their own
importance, they are anxious to be seen as the expert on
a given subject, in spite of their limited knowledge or
experience. We criticise politicians if we feel they are
blind to the struggles of ordinary people. They don’t
know what it’s like, for example, to live on a minimum
wage, or be at risk of homelessness. On the other hand,
it is refreshing when those in power have faced some of
these issues themselves, or have made the effort to do
their research and to listen to people. We can tell when
someone is speaking with genuine authority and care.
Those who listen to Jesus teaching in the
synagogue in today’s gospel know there is something
different and exciting about him. His teaching is in
sharp contrast to the scribes they are used to hearing.
The difference, stated twice in this passage, is his
authority, and it leaves his audience ‘astonished’. He
does not use it the way we might tend to use our ‘little
brief authority’, to make ourselves look good. Instead
he uses his authority to serve, to love, and to bring
mercy and freedom.
Tríona Doherty