Daily Thought For January 15, 2019

Astonishing Teaching


Mark 1:21–28


“The people were astonished at his teaching.…”

Interesting words: the people were astonished. They don’t clap. They aren’t taken aback. They don’t have an animated discussion after his proclamation. Rather they are stunned into silence. The people are excited that they have finally found a teaching that answers the deepest questions and hungers of their heart.

We want to be taught. We look for a master at living. No matter how smart we may feel ourselves to be, we still are gratefully amazed when we encounter preaching that reveals a dimension of life or truth beyond the commonplace. We long to know there is something more to our lives, a deeper, ultimate meaning to the daily grind, something that makes it all worthwhile.

The astonishment of the crowds listening to Jesus is all the more intriguing when we recall that Jesus preaches values that turn the conventional wisdom of the world upside down, often uncomfortably so. The world’s values don’t astonish. For all their glitter, they tire and bore us, exhaust, confuse, and defeat us.
The values taught by Jesus, on the other hand, even today bring light, hope, and the welcome element of surprise. They almost always point out an unexpected path, one that is inexplicable and incomprehensible, one that reduces us to reverent tears and quiet homage when we encounter it.

Jesus teaches you and me personally. His classrooms are myriad because he understands his students well and knows just how to get a word or light through the slightest crack we sometimes leave open. We find him teaching us in homilies and movies, in the teachings of the Church and the suggestions of a neighbor, in a magazine article or in the innocent prayer of a child. The movie theater becomes a “sanctuary,” and the place where we read a document becomes a chapel. We meet Jesus, personally, like the men in the synagogue or the man with the unclean spirit in today’s reading.


Jesus, speak to me a word that will bring water to my parched spirit. A word that will point out an unexpected direction for me in some difficulty I am experiencing.


Master, I am waiting on your word.

Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 1–17: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 8–9). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.


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