Scripture Reading for Today: Mark 1:21-28 (read it here)
After leaving Nazareth, Jesus makes Capernaum his home. It was then a prosperous town at the north end of the Sea of Galilee and was also the home of Jesus’ first disciples.
Sabbath worship included prayer as well as the public reading and exposition of the scriptures.
Unlike the scribes, Jesus teaches with personal authority that is based not on his credentials or his ability to cite precedents, but on the Spirit that descended on him at his baptism. Jesus is the Son of God, and his authority comes from God.
Whereas the scribes occupied themselves with decisions about what was permitted and what was not permitted in a business-as-usual world, Jesus powerfully announces the arrival of the kingdom of God.
In other words, our Gospel passage celebrates the arrival of the kingdom with Jesus’ triumph over evil and the salvation he brings.
In the synagogue Jesus sees a man possessed by an evil spirit.
Talk of spirits and demons seems primitive and makes us uncomfortable today. We would rather speak of mental illness and attribute bizarre behavior to the person’s impoverished environment as a child or, perhaps, some sort of chemical imbalance. We hesitate to use the word evil, which sounds judgmental, and we look to science to save us from our demons.
Science has accomplished a great deal in that regard and promises to achieve even more as it burrows ever more deeply into our cells and nervous system. However, science is unlikely ever to solve the problem of evil, which is neither a medical problem nor a primitive idea, but a spiritual problem and a present reality. And, we have only to read a newspaper to confirm the pervasive presence of evil in our world.
With this exorcism our Gospel wants to make evident that Jesus has come to wage war on the powers of darkness and destroy them.
Jesus could have chosen any kind of miracle to authenticate his authority, but he chooses an exorcism for its symbolic value. Jesus comes to defeat evil and to affect salvation. He begins that process by his teaching and healing ministry in this synagogue; and his teaching and healing are parts of the same salvation work.
Jesus, the Holy One of God, touches our life in the Eucharist to bring us healing and freedom.
Let us reject all forms of evil in our lives.
In imitation of Mary, let us also be examples of Jesus’ holiness in the world.
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Let us make this a blessed day.
Keep Jesus in your mind and heart and share him with all you meet.
Fr. Michael Brizio, IMC
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