Deuteronomy 18. 15 – 20. 1 Corinthians 7: 32 – 35. Mark 1. 21 – 28
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark.
The disciples went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, Jesus 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 the man 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 Jesus’ fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
God has chosen prophets from the beginning of creation according to His wish and will. A “Prophet” is one who speaks on behalf of God. In other words, they are His mouth piece.
Addressing the Israelites as they are about to enter the Promised Land, Moses recalls what happened when God was about to give them the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. God announced his presence with lighting, thunder, a deafening blast. (Exodus 20: 18 – 19). Terrified, the people backed away, saying, “Let us not again hear the voice of the Lord!” (Deuteronomy 18:16). They begged Moses to go and bring God’s word back to them!
knowing that he was not going to be with them much longer, Moses promises that God will send them someone to take his place, “a prophet like me… to whom you shall listen” (Deuteronomy 18:15). And so it was. In every generation, God raised up prophets for the people. Deborah, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah: these and others heard God directly and proclaimed what they heard.
But now through Jesus, the living “Word” of God, everything has changed. More than just a prophet. He has destroyed sin and death. He has opened the pathway for us sinners to come before the all-holy God. Now, every single person can know God personally. Every single person can hear his voice – in Scripture, through the Church, and most importantly, in the depths of their hearts.
This year of liturgical readings, “Year B”, we will have Mark leading us through the Gospel story. A prominent theme particular to Mark’s Gospel is the coming of the Kingdom of God.
The first thing we must remember is that the Kingdom of God is not simply one specific and particular place. The Kingdom of God is where God reigns. The first place we must look is the place most nearest to us – our own hearts. Jesus says, “The Kingdom of God is among you. The Kingdom of God is at the door. The Kingdom of God is within you.”
Over the next four Sundays (Jan. 28th-Feb. 18th), Mark gives four stories that help us grasp the Kingdom of God, namely that this Kingdom is Jesus himself; it is the presence of Jesus among us.
There is a unique power to the presence of Jesus. This Gospel describes the people being amazed by Him. When He spoke, He spoke directly to the heart.
He touched them and moved them in ways that none of the ancient books, none of the old rabbits and prophets and none of the eloquent men from Jerusalem to Capernaum ever had before. And they just were in awe, because this was a man who spoke with authority, an authority with that same root as God speaking to Moses.
In the book of Deuteronomy God says that “He will raise up for them a Prophet like you (Moses) from among their own people. I shall put my words in the mouth of the Prophet who shall speak to them everything that I command.”
Moses spoke for God. No one else spoke for God except Moses. The people didn’t collect material and argue about what Moses said, because what Moses said was from the mouth of God. From God’s heart to Moses’ mouth. And then when Moses was growing old, God said to him, “Moses, I will send someone with the same authority, who will come after me and he will be the Holy One.”
And so the people hungered and longed for the day that someone would come, who would speak with authority. He would speak with the head yes, but mostly with the heart, and the two together. And people would listen and be astounded and wonder where he’d got these words. And those who had read the Old Testament and the Book of Deuteronomy, they would know that God has fulfilled his promises and here stands Jesus.
In this Gospel reading, Jesus is particularly confronted with a sickly man, one with an unclean spirit. Here Jesus reveals his power to drive the unclean spirits out. Even the evil spirits and demons recognized Jesus’s authority and power. “He commands even the unclean spirits to obey him”. And in driving out these evil spirits, Jesus reveals another aspect of his mission: He came into this world to save people and free them from all bondage of sin, sickness an evil possessions. Whenever Jesus heals us, He does not heal us for the sake of healing itself, but so that we may ultimately be led through this healing to our ultimate salvation
To recognize Jesus’ sovereignty, power over the forces of evil is the first step in the process of healing. Very often when we speak of disturbed people, we speak in a similar language. We feel that people who are disturbed, including ourselves, are torn by loneliness, depressed by the difficulties of living, falling apart under emotional strain. These people too are struck with unclean spirits.
Jesus came to heal this man of the uncleanness that bound him, just as He comes for us to do the same. Did the man know, before that day in Galilee, that the Son of God was coming to heal him? All of a sudden Jesus stands before him and says to all the demons flying around in his soul, “Be quiet leave him.” And the man becomes calm, quiet and at peace.
This is the introduction of the Kingdom of God into the region of Galilee. This is the introduction of the one who will stand before us in those dreadful and difficult moments of our lives, when we feel bereft of any hope of peace in future, past or present. And it is he who has the power to say, “Be quiet, Leave him.” And then the life, the hope and the love of God will food into us once again so that we can be restored. When Jesus comes, it is God Himself who comes, bringing with him His peace, love, forgiveness, strength and power.
Jesus is still with us today. No matter what happens to us, what kind of circumstances we find ourselves in, we know that God is with us to heal us, to fill us with new courage, new strength, and most of all, His life and His love.
We don’t ever have to be afraid of coming into God’s presence. In fact, He is already present in us. Through His Spirit, He is urging us to call out, “Abba Father!” (Romans 8:15). He is waiting to receive us with open arms, to fill our hearts with His joy and consolation. If we accept Jesus as our personal Saviour, then what He did for the possessed man, he will do for us also. Let us surrender ourselves to his power and there will be nothing to fear.