"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

The Gung-ho Wolf

hat does it mean to have authority as Jesus did in Mark's gospel? (Mk 1:21-28). For my first point I would like to use an old story retold by a Benedictine monk. There was an elder who was asked by a younger monk what he could do to keep from being discouraged when he saw others leaving the monastic life and returning to the world. Rather than give an abstract, theoretical reply, the wise monk gave this parable to illustrate his point. He said to the young monk, there was the case of one wolf that spotted a wild rabbit in the forest. This wolf, having seen the rabbit sets off in pursuit until he catches it. Now there are other wolves that came, many of them, and saw the first one running but not seeing the rabbit. These other wolves will run after the lead wolf. They do not know why they are following but only out of instinct, they form as packs. They do it for awhile but then give up and go back to where they came from. They go back to where they were at first. The wise monk then concluded. Only the wolf that has seen the rabbit will persevere until it catches it, not allowing itself to go astray from the path by the rest of the wolves in the pack. This faithful wolf does not care about the ravines, rocks no matter how steep and rivers to cross.

This story or parable can help us discern about the value of authority, or command. When you have a good command of something it means to be knowledgeable about or skilled in a particular area or thing. The first wolf had a good command compared to the rest of the wolves not simply because it arrived in the area or destination first, no. The wolf saw with its own eyes the precious rabbit. That is why it is restless until it finds that rabbit. The others did not see the rabbit but they follow this particular gung-ho wolf that exudes a great determination. This is a very good way of picturing the people of Capernaum seeing Jesus as one having authority in our gospel today.

For my second point, does authority mean popularity? Matthew tells us that Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum after his temptation in the wilderness (Mt 4:13). Apparently after Jesus was rejected following His first sermon in the synagogue in Nazareth, he “adopted” Capernaum as his home base. This area in the Galilee is called “The Evangelical Triangle,” with the villages of Capernaum, Bethsaida and Korazin forming the three corners. In fact, Jesus did so many miracles in this Evangelical Triangle, that He pronounced judgment on all three villages, saying that "If Tyre, Sidon and Sodom had experienced such miracles as Capernaum, Korazin and Bethsaida, they would have repented" (Mt 11:20-24). Of the three, Capernaum was where Jesus spent most of his three years of ministry. If during the time of Jesus they used social media already, what did the people in Capernaum say about Jesus? They used labels like `the carpenter's son' to classify Him. Jesus was bashed for being the son of Joseph. Out of these episodes of rejection came Jesus' lamentation that `a prophet is not without honour save in his own country, and in his own house' (Mt 13:57) whether that be Nazareth, Capernaum or any other place. Familiarity got in the way of their recognizing Jesus' divine authority. But Jesus, like the first wolf, kept running the course even if it looks dangerous with lots of discouragements often times. He stuck to his mission given to him by the Father and what is that mission? To be the bread of life, sent down from heaven. Although Capernaum caused Jesus heartaches, it was the place where he met five of his closest apostles—Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew They came directly from Capernaum. Even if it seems like Jesus is a total stranger to them, yet with such authority and command they dropped everything to follow him. They saw something in him.

For my third and last point is a reflective question to ask ourselves. If we think we are following Jesus as a religious, a priest, a seminarian or lay what did we see in him? For us to be able to reach this far? The saints and martyrs have a common image that attracted them—the image of the crucified or suffering Jesus. For them Jesus having full authority is seen on the image of the cross.

If we are averse to the cross then we might be like the other wolves. We will get tired at some point along the journey because our eyes are not focused on the first wolf. Another reason is that we are not hungry enough. Another reason for joining the pack is just out of peer pressure. I admit when I first considered the religious life, it started out of peer pressure. I saw my friends flocking to the seminary like wolves on the rabbit race. But the herd, mob or pack mentality which served as my first nudge had to be shed like a tree shedding its leaves. All those emotional hungers and soul searching are good at some point but they have to be transcended into a deeper longing for love, agape, intimacy and spiritual love for Jesus. That is the only authentic reason for following the gung-ho wolf.

There is a saying "The way to a person's heart is through the stomach." I like to believe, the soul has a stomach too like angels do. But we have to beg for the grace for this stomach to be reactivated. It takes this kind of stomach to recognize the authority of Jesus. We can only beg and wait for the Lord to give it to us because it is only through his grace that we can receive him. Pope Benedict XVI gives his definition of grace as gift received in his book Jesus of Nazareth, I quote, “The highest things,” he says, “the things that really matter, we cannot achieve on our own; we have to accept them as gifts and enter into the dynamic of the gift." The Greek for grace as gift is χάρισμα (khárisma), which means "favor freely given" or "gift of grace."

St Paul writes, "You say, 'Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.' This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them" (1 Cor 6:13). The full weight of God's authority revolves around the dynamic of food, which is a give and take. No wonder wolves like our pet dogs recognize their master's authority through feeding. It is a universal dynamic that Jesus enters in order to give us the spiritual food that truly satisfies. In fact, the rabbit that the first wolf is chasing is also the gung-ho wolf himself. Because he will feed us with himself, with his own body on the cross. Amen. Fr JM Manzano SJ


  1. Thank you Fr. JM! Nakakabusog ng puso at kakaluwa. Never lose sight of Him whom we will keep on loving and following.😊❤🙏 Yan pabaon sa akin para may huhugutin pag nagutom. God bless us!

    1. Thanks so much and God bless and noursih us always with His presence! 😇


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