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A Teaching With Authority | Breaking Open the Word at Home

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Reading Time: 5 minutes


In the readings for this Sunday, Jan. 28, the role of the prophet is stressed. A prophet listens to, and speaks for God — tells people what they need to hear, and doesn’t say anything that isn’t from God.


by Jen Schlameuss-Perry


In the readings for this Sunday, Jan. 28, from Moses to Jesus, we find out what happens when a person accepts the vocation of prophet for God. Moses was a member of the Hebrew community chosen by God to bring his fellow people God’s message. Paul warns us to not get caught up in the normalcy of life: the distractions, the busyness, and anything else that makes us forget to listen to and speak for God. When Jesus began to teach people who longed to know God better, they experienced teaching from someone who knew God firsthand, and therefore, spoke with true authority. His teaching was so effective that the devil wanted to stop him, because if people knew the truth about God’s love and what God knows we can do, we would live such radical lives of love that we would change the world.



Deuteronomy 18:15-20
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.”


Psalm 95
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.


1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties.


Mark 1:21-28
The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.


You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:

Scriptures for January 28, Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B



Did you ever hear it said, “Be careful what you ask for —you just might get it.”? Well, that’s exactly what happened in our first reading today. The Hebrew people didn’t want to hear directly from God anymore, so God set Moses up to be his mouthpiece. God listened, and gave them someone from their own community as a mediator between them and God. This new prophetic role became a tradition for the Jewish people. And prophets were warned that whatever God gave them to speak, they’d better do it — and they can’t make anything up. If God didn’t say it, they’d better not, either. (Think back to Jonah’s struggle last week …)

The second reading is a sort of hop off of last week’s second reading. Paul continues to instruct the Corinthians to avoid distractions. Family life is demanding — when we enter into a marriage, and when we have children, the needs of others become our priority, and we can’t ignore them. He felt that if people remained single, they could belong to everyone; like our priests do today. So, the challenge for people who do choose to have a family is to find a way to balance meeting their familial needs with meeting the needs of the poor and of our wider community.

When Jesus began to teach in the synagogues, the people heard God’s Word preached with authority. This was bad news for the devil — if the people experienced God’s power through Jesus, they might not be complacent anymore, but to live radical lives of love that God called them to. So, the devil challenged Jesus and tried to make him shrink back a bit. It didn’t work. Jesus has true authority and called him out instead. Nothing would stop Jesus from fulfilling his prophetic role.


Do you ever feel distracted? What things keep you from being able to concentrate or focus? What helps you to focus?


Why is it important for us to have people from our own families and communities to speak God’s words to us? How hard do you find it to speak on behalf of God when you find yourself in the presence of those who need to hear it?



How do you find balance between family life and being available to serve the wider community? How does your family life (define family as those closest to you) enrich your response to God? How does it challenge you?


Bonus Question for all three groups:

PIck a way that your family can work together to fight the distractions of daily life. How can you work God into your family more intentionally?


Related: How to Preview the Sunday Scriptures with Your Kids


A little lectio

The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.


A little Bible study

Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:

  • During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
  • Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
  • Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
  • Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
  • If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)

For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.


The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”


Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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