CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 June 2018

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Fourth Sunday of the Year: Divine power in the word

Today’s gospel narrates the first healing miracle of Jesus in Mark’s gospel. It is not chosen at random. In Mark’s intention it constitutes the synthesis of the whole work of Jesus for the people.
 
Jesus, as is customary, joins his people on the Saturday synagogue service and does the readings. After a much-appreciated sermon of Jesus, a man “possessed by an unclean spirit,” who until then has remained calm outside the synagogue begins to rail against Jesus, exploding in curses. 
 
He was not master of himself. There were forces of death that dominated him to the point of destroying him. They spoke in his name and reduced him to a state of complete dehumanisation. 
 
Before the arrival of Jesus, there was peace and quiet in the synagogue and that was fine to all. 
 
They were resigned to the fact that the obsessed person remained at the mercy of the forces of evil. It was enough that he did not bother and remained quiet without disturbing them. 
 
Where Jesus arrives this balance is upset. The presence of Christ is irreconcilable with the “devil”, with the forces of evil. 
 
The devil opens the hostilities, as it is sometimes those who feel weaker who attack. He realised that “the strong man” has arrived (Matthew 12:29) and he is able to bring down his kingdom. Frightened, he screamed two questions: “What do you want with us? Have you come to destroy us?” 
 
The plural pronoun, used by the “unclean spirit” is not surprising because the forces that keep man away from God and life are many. The powers that feel threatened by the presence and word of Christ are many. 
 
Jesus does not answer him with curses or magic gestures, as the exorcists of his time used to do. He gives two strict orders: “Be silent, and come out of this man!” 
 
The “unclean spirit” obeys him and all those present are amazed. They realise that a prophet announcing a “new doctrine” is in their midst. He has word that has God’s power in it, has “authority”, that is, accomplishes what he says. 
 
The situation of the “possessed” person or society represents the condition of those who have not yet met Christ and, therefore, is still at the mercy of hostile, uncontrollable forces and impulses of hatred, selfish withdrawal, committing injustice and violence, the greed of money, the will to dominate that destroy them.
 
In the possessed person who stayed good up to the clash with Christ, we can notice the tendency, not only of the scribes, but also of many Christians, to appease the evil forces. 
 
With their daily compromises with power, yielding to the spirit of the world and hypocrisy, with religious practices observed at the expense of the substance of the Gospel. When a prophetic voice rises or an authentic witness of faith and charity is given, then a rebellion begins with all the energies that it possesses. 
 
Preaching that does not cast out demons, leaving things as they are, that does not change the person and the world, is not the word of Jesus. 
 
● Father Fernando Armellini SCJ
        Claretian Publications
        https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/3rd-sunday-in-ordinary-time-year-b-january-21-2018/
 
Translated by 
Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by 
Father Kandamkulathy Jijo CMF