In the synagogue of small-town Capernaum, Jesus creates quite a stir today. He astonishes the faithful with his teachings, he awakens a screaming demon spirit, and then sweepingly commands the man’s soul become calm once again. Here was an impressive new preacher and healer: the villagers marveled at his surprising authority.

Authority? What could this mean? Authority could refer to power—being able to work with the precision of jail guards, controlling every visit and heavy steel door. Authority could also refer to credentials— proof that someone can “walk the talk” and thus deserve to keep talking.

Given Capernaum’s exciting events, I wonder if Jesus’ authority was a third kind, less about credentials or power: perhaps he simply surprised them. Perhaps his preaching and healing witness was so fresh it opened their eyes, provoked new thoughts and challenged their minds…

What would it take for God to surprise me today?

—Garrett Gundlach, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic from the Wisconsin Province. He is completing his philosophy studies at Loyola University Chicago.