“And he taught them as one with authority.”

Mark 1:22

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Mark 1:21-28

South Africans seem to have lost faith in politics and politicians. This is not an entirely unreasonable stance to have in the light of the never-ending stream of revelations emerging at the Zondo Commission and in the media. Those politicians who impress us the most are those who “walk the talk.”

Jesus made a deep impression on his audience, and impresses them with his teaching, though I think it fairer to say that it wasn’t simply the content that impressed them but the whole package. Someone good is rarely consistently good that everything which they say and do is all of a piece. No part of their life is in contradiction to any other part. Jesus is one such person, and I believe that this is what so impressed his audience. We are told that he “taught with authority, not like the scribes.” Remember that the scribes and Pharisees were condemned for being hypocrites, and making laws that oppressed people rather than liberated them.

His authority was his authenticity, his integrity. People believed him and respected him because his values, words and actions were all in alignment. Jesus did not have a private set of values which were different from the values he proclaimed publicly. Put differently, neither his heart nor his mind was divided. In the ordination rite, those being ordained are admonished to “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” This is the kind of integrity that gives authority to leaders of faith communities and the leaders of our country.

Lord God,

Help us today to live with integrity. May the words of our mouths be rooted in your love and your truth, and be shown in the actions of our lives.


Fr Bruce Botha SJ

Fr Bruce Botha SJ was born in Durban, KZN. He received a diploma in education from the University of Natal and then taught physical science for 4 years at Scottburgh High School. He joined the Society of Jesus and did his noviciate in Cape Town. He then studied philosophy in London and theology in Berkeley, California. Between philosophy and theology, in the period of formation known as regency, he worked as the director of counselling for an HIV research centre. After ordination in 2006 he worked in Holy Trinity, Braamfontein and is currently the parish priest of St Martin de Porres, Orlando West and Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg.

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