Year B: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Mark 1: 21-28
Having called His first disciples, Jesus continues on His way. His mission is to proclaim God’s Kingdom - but this is to be done not just in words but in actions too.
So, Jesus comes into the synagogue at Capernaum on the Sabbath and begins to teach there. His teaching strikes a chord with His listeners who sense that He teaches with authority. This must have come across in what He said - but probably even more simply because of His presence.
The presence of Jesus in the synagogue was recognised by an unclean spirit which possessed one of those gathered there. Whilst the people and His new disciples heard His words with respect and admiration - it is the spirit who recognises who Jesus is: the Holy One of God. In a room full of good people - it is the force of evil which first identifies the true nature of this Man.
Jesus rebukes the spirit and orders it to be silent - casting it out of the man and liberating him from its power.
Often in the course of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells someone not to disclose what they have discerned in Him. Mark gives us a sense of a Jesus who is waiting for the right moment to show the world who He is - and who, until then, will keep it hidden. This is sometimes, referred to as Mark’s “Messianic Secret”.
Writing as he was for a beleaguered community, Mark would have been aware of their vulnerability and the need to keep some things hidden from prying eyes around them.
The Roman emperors of the day certainly had an authority - but it was upheld by force of arms and by the persecution of those who stood up against them. Jesus’ authority is His simply because He is who He is.
The community - though largely composed of women and slaves and those on the margins - was being persecuted as a threat. This seemed out of all proportion to their strength. Yet, as the Gospel shows, evil recognises the force of goodness and reacts against it. The Christians could identify the evil with the worst qualities of the Roman regime - and could see their persecution as a consequence of being the force of good daring to confront the power of evil.
What does it mean for me?
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