The Authority for all our ills
A reflection on Mk 1: 21-28
By Ron Calderon, CJM
There are times in our lives that we cannot solve or remedy something wrong with us, with our mind, body or spirit, by ourselves. We usually seek the help of experts. When we are sick, we entrust yourself to a doctor, don’t we? When we have some troubles with our mind, if we’ve been depressed for some time or anxious without any reason, we seek the help of a psychotherapist or a psychiatrist, don’t we? We usually entrust ourselves to authorities who are experts or specialists when we want to heal or resolve something in ourselves and we find ourselves helpless in these situations.
In the gospel reading, Jesus exorcised an unclean spirit from a man in a synagogue. What is amazing in the story is Jesus’ power over the unclean spirit. Specifically, the crowd’s expression of amazement in verses 22 and 27 highlights Jesus’ potent command that the evil spirit obeyed.
Mark would like to emphasize the extraordinary authority of Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry. The evangelist would even like us to see that Jesus is indeed the much awaited messiah that Israel was anticipating as indicated at the very beginning of scripture. This is affirmed by our first reading that foreshadows the coming of the messiah in God’s conversation with Moses:
“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it.”
From the readings, we can firmly attest that he is the authoritative messiah, the Son of God. The miracle is a verification of Jesus’ authority over Israel. It also verifies an earlier account during the Lord’s baptism when God spoke of his son at the Jordan river from the reading two Sundays ago:
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mk 1:11)
Mark would like to tell his readers that Jesus is the Christ that even unclean spirits listen to and obey. So as readers and hearers of the gospel, we are engaged by this pericope in a very intimate way that we ought to listen to Christ. The psalm antiphon emphasizes this message:
“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
If we open our hearts today, listen to his voice and obey his commands, he will surely heal everything that makes us sick in mind, body and spirit in his most perfect time.
Let us open our hearts and minds today. Let us allow Jesus Christ to enter our homes, our churches, our communities so that Jesus Christ could exorcize what is unclean and cleanse ourselves and our relationships, for the Lord is the authority who can heal all our personal and social ills.