In our modern tech world, those who shout loudest and those who with great emotion speak about the cause close to their hearts often sway opinion. Anyone who might think other wise is often in danger of being dismissed and shouted down.
A passionate, emotional stance on any given subject can be mistaken as an indicator of the truth that is being uttered. If the majority also holds that opinion then the truth of the matter is seen as being obvious.
If there are no eternal truths then, indeed, truth is transient and can differ for every age and culture – it can be whatever the majority decide it is at any given moment. If however, there are truths that are eternal and unchanging then they, by nature, affect and inform any issue of the day in any given generation.
What does it mean to say that Jesus ‘taught as one who had authority’? In our first reading we encounter Moses through whom God promises to raise up a prophet like him for the people. Moses was called by God and speaks to him in the burning bush and upon the holy mountain. Moses is told that he is to speak for God to Pharaoh and the people, and lead God’s people from slavery to freedom in the Promised Land. It is Moses that receives the Decalogue – the Ten Commandments from God for his people. It is Moses who stands in the breach to mediate between God and the people, who were terrified.
The authority with which Moses spoke and taught was not rooted in his oratory, as he admits himself that he is ‘slow of speech and tongue’, but with his encounter with the eternal truth of God revealed to him. Moses’ authority rested in the truth he had to say not the manner of his delivery.
As Jesus is the priest after the order of Melchizedek so he is the prophet after the order of Moses. Jesus did not rant and rave when he taught but uttered words of eternal life that spoke to the longing or hostile hearts of those who heard. These were words of life spoken and incarnated in his very being. The power of what he had to say brought to life, healed and liberated those who were willing to receive them. As God spoke ‘let there be.’ at the beginning of creation so God in Jesus speaks again and brings to life that which was dead in an act of recreation.
Just in case you missed the point the gospel shows us Jesus’ teaching has the authority to command spiritual and well as material things. The unclean spirit knows and does not doubt who Jesus is and his authority to command. ‘Be silent, and come out of him.’ As an aside knowing who Jesus is isn’t enough – even demons know as much.
In an ever-changing world where completing voices grow ever more persistent and loud, we need not be fearful of encountering the world to which Christ sends us. Rather we need, with discernment and an informed conscious, to spot any resonance with the gospel and with humility point the way to Jesus.
Our confidence rest in that, in a culture of multiple truth claims, there is only one who has the words of eternal life, who is the way, the truth and the life. There is only one who can reconcile, forgive and breathes new life into us. We ourselves draw nearer to the eternal truths of God through the sacraments, through scripture and through the teachings of the Church, which is Christ body here on earth.