He Gave Them Authority: Mark 6: 6-13


He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching. He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick–no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Being limited in His hometown to do any mighty deeds, by the peoples lack of faith, Jesus moves on to the villages in the vicinity teaching. By doing this He is preparing the Twelve for their first steps of formation  as representatives of Jesus Christ; roles they will have to fill after Jesus returns to the Father.

This is also our first glimpse into what will be foundational for the priesthood of the early Church. Also, for the first time in His ministry, He gives the Twelve authority over unclean spirits and to cure many who were sick.

Along with this authority, Jesus sends them out to preach repentance. As a continuation of last weeks reflection, about how a lack of faith limits God’s activity in our lives (and even our communities) – without repentance , we close the door altogether to His activity in our lives.

In the context of this passage, repentance brings about deliverance from unclean spirits and allows the sick to be cured. We read, and last year studied, this aspect of repentance and healing, in St. James letter chapter 5 in verse 16 we read, Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. In this passage we see that repentance (the confessing of sin) and prayer (which is done in faith) are the only things we are told that bring about healing. Also within the context, this is done under the authority of the priesthood, Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up, for they were given this authority by Christ Himself, and passed on through Apostolic succession.

These passages should remind us all of God’s willingness to give His children His authority. Not just in the formal setting of the Mass, but in our everyday lives as well.

Are we not filled with the Holy Spirit? Are we not reminded in St. John’s first letter that, …for the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world?

Do we accept  that authority? Do we allow ourselves to live victorious lives ? Or do we reject  the authority of the Holy Spirit and the authority of God’s written word?

This week, let us challenge ourselves to believe what we’ve been told by God . Through repentance and faith we have, not just the ability, but the authority  over unclean spirits and sickness in our lives.

Now, let’s go out there and live in His authority !!

Amen.

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Four Final Thoughts – James 5:13-20


Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. Elijah was a human being like us, yet he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain upon the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the earth produced its fruit. My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.  

As James wraps up his letter of instruction, he points out some personal and corporate practices that we need to adhere to.  

Are you suffering? Pray! Are you happy? Sing about it! Are you sick? Call the presbyters!

“This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. It is alluded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1695; cf. Mk 6:13; Jas 5:14-15.”

We notice that this anointing of the sick is accompanied by the command; confess your sins to one another and pray for one another. Why would James tell us that you may be healed only after mentioning confession and prayer?

Confessing our sins to one another is an act of humility. Although I know God is always with me and sees everything I do. I don’t see Him, see me though. When I confess my sins to the priest [who is Christ’s representative] I see him see me and I am humbled in my spirit. Knowing that I am actually seen and heard, compels me to not want to commit these sins anymore. It is also a great relief to [actually] hear the words of comfort, “Your sins are forgiven” knowing that they indeed are (I John 1:9).

This forgiveness from God leads us to righteousness. If we are to pray for one another, to be “effective” (though this actual translation didn’t use this word) we must be righteous, The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. This is how these three things tie together.

Lastly, we are instructed to bring back a sinner from the error of his way. The error is to stray from the truth. If we are to be able to do this, we must remain in the truth ourselves. Remaining in His truth gives us the grace to lead the sinner back to a life of truth, in the forgiveness and grace of His Church.

So this week, let’s go to confession! To be cleansed from our sin to serve God and our neighbor in true righteousness.

Amen.