Jesus’ Words

We live in a world of words. We listen to them on our devices, they’re printed in newspapers and books.  We use words to communicate with family and friends. Oxford Dictionary even chooses a new Word of the Year.  In case you hadn’t heard, their choice for 2023 is the word ‘Rizz’, meaning charm or attractiveness.  Rizz, a new word to add to your vocabulary, is really a shortened version of charisma.

Because we are so surrounded by words, new and old, they tend to lose their meaning, become unimportant, and no longer have any influence on us, regardless of who is speaking.

But when Jesus spoke words, our gospel tells us today, “the people were astonished at his teaching.”  There was something about Jesus that made Him stand out from anyone else. People would go without food and travel long distances just to hear Him.

His words were different from what the people heard from the Scribes. Not only did they just reinforce what had already been said by the prophets, but they also told the people, for example, what not to eat and how much work, if any, they could do on the Sabbath.

But, to the people, there was something very special about Jesus’ words.  When he spoke, it was as though God was standing there in front of them; indeed, God was.  The words Jesus spoke were words the people needed to hear.  He, the Word Incarnate himself, spoke words of comfort, of freedom, of pardon, words that had authority, power, and hope for living.

That became evident in what happened next.  As the people were listening intently to Jesus, suddenly a man with an unclean spirit started screaming.  It must have startled everyone, everyone but Jesus who issued a direct order to that unclean spirit, telling it to be silent and come out.  It did…with a loud shriek.  Then the man stood there quietly, at peace.  Now the people are even more astonished.  Jesus not only talks about God’s love and care, but he brings it about in that poor man’s tortured life.  God’s word and works, Jesus showed, are intimately bound together.

It makes us wonder about our response when we listen to Jesus’ words.  We hear Scripture and the Gospel stories with such repetition, that perhaps we’ve lost that astonishment at the power of Jesus’ words, words that challenge us, console us, heal and save us.

  • Do Jesus’ words ignite our hearts, or only cause a little spark?
  • Do we experience God’s loving care and challenges for us when we read Scripture, or hear it proclaimed in liturgy?

May we resolve to listen to Jesus’ words and experience their astonishing power in our lives as if we’re hearing them for the very first time.