THE DEEP END • A TEACHING THAT IS NEW
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A friend once told me a story about his favourite lecturer in college. He met him while crossing the campus one day, stopped and asked the lecturer how he was. The lecturer paused for a long moment, thinking about it,
before eventually replying, ‘I'm fine, thanks for asking.’
At the time my friend wasn't sure what to make of it, though the unusual encounter stuck in his mind for years afterwards. On reflection, he appreciated that the lecturer had thought about his question, and to this day it has made him stop and think every time he asks someone, or is asked, ‘how are you?’ The lecturer had taken an everyday question, and everyday language, and infused it with new meaning.
The people who listen to Jesus’ teaching in today’s Gospel are used to hearing scribes and teachers in the synagogue. But with Jesus they witness something new. We don’t know what Jesus was teaching that day, or what kind of language he was using, but what struck the people was that he taught with authority. He had drawn them in, but they couldn't quite put their finger on it.
‘What does it all mean?’ they asked each other. He had made them think, and they recognised that he was offering something different.