January 29, 2012: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; 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!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee. (Mark 1:21-28)
In the Gospel, Jesus and his disciples often move around to many different places. They didn’t have cars in those days, but Palestine was a fairly small country, so they walked from place to place and talked to one another and to other people they met along the way. And because people recognized Jesus as a teacher, they often stopped to listen to him and to his friends–they called them his “disciples.” In these early days that is how religion was passed on.
The person who is writing this story says they met a man who “had an unclean spirit.” What the writer means is that he was not a person who responded like other “normal” people did. He yelled out at Jesus, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” Well, it seems that this person did know who Jesus really was, even if other people didn’t, and when Jesus used his special power to rid the man of the thing that was making him yell out he became very quiet and very normal. Some people say he joined Jesus and became a disciple, though we are not sure of that.
What does this story tell us about ourselves/and or those we meet? Well, maybe one thing is that we are never sure about anything at first sight. We need to think about new people we meet, get to know them better, ask them what they think about something we like or something we do not like. We need to think carefully about what they say and place what they say next to what Jesus tells us so we are comfortable being with them. The world is filled with wonderful people, and with some who are not so wonderful. When we walk with Jesus, he helps us know the difference.