The Gospel of Mark 1:21-28
Jesus and his disciples went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
Let us pray: Perfect Light of revelation, as you shone in the life of Jesus, whose epiphany we celebrate, so shine in us and through us, that we may become beacons of truth and compassion, enlightening all creation with deeds of justice and mercy. Amen.
What continues to draw people to Jesus, is it when we read his teachings, they reflect the authority with which He spoke, or is it that we believe He definitely is the Son of God. There are two important moments in this passage. The first is Jesus’ teachings and the effect it has on His listeners. The second is the exorcism of the unclean spirit, which shows His ministry as the Son of God. The authority of the words of Jesus is backed up by his action of mercy, by his miracle of deliverance. We have the creative word of God in action here. Whenever the Word of God is spoken there is always authority, there is always power. The Word of God never ceases to surprise, to astound and to have effect on those who listen to it, an effect that no human words can ever have. This is an example of salvation as a gift of the Father, who reaches out to those in need and who are oppressed. Teaching and action go hand in hand. The words explain the action, the action supports the words. The episode is intended to show by word and example that the Kingdom has, indeed, come in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Kingdom, he reigns supreme overall, including the powers of darkness that oppress man. The episode also provides an example of how our witness should be, a combination of both words and actions. It also invites us to examine ourselves and decide on whose rule we are under, in which kingdom we now find ourselves, on whose side we are on. The choice is between Christ who brings mercy, victory, life and freedom and Satan, who brings defeat, oppression, death, and destruction. We must make that choice in the end, as that is the gift we have from God. Will we choose a life as the sons and daughters of the Lord, or bind ourselves willingly in the chains of sin?
Let us Pray: Holy and awesome God, your Son’s authority is found in integrity and living truth, not the assertion of power over others. Open our imaginations to new dimensions of your love, and heal us of all that severs us from you and one another, that we may grow into the vision you unfold before us. Amen.