1) Opening prayer
Father of love, hear our prayers.
Help us to know Your will
and to do it with courage and faith.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 1:21-28
Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the sabbath he 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.
• Sequence of the Gospels of the days of this week. Yesterday’s Gospel informed us about the first activity of Jesus. He called four people to form a community with them (Mk 1:16-10). Today’s Gospel describes admiration for the teaching of Jesus (Mt 1:21-22) and the first miracle when He expels the devil (Mk 1:23-28). The Gospel of tomorrow narrates the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law (Mk 1:29-31), the healing of many sick people (Mk 1:32-34) and the prayer of Jesus in an isolated place (Mk 1:35-39). Mark gathers all of these episodes which had been transmitted orally in the communities, joining them together like bricks of a wall. In the years 70’s, the year in which he writes, the communities needed orientation. By describing how Jesus began His activity, Mark tells of what they should do to announce the Good News. Mark gives them a catechesis by telling the communities about the events in the life of Jesus.
• Jesus teaches with authority, differently from the way the scribes do it. The first thing that the people perceive is the diverse way in which Jesus teaches. It is not so much the content, but rather the way in which He teaches that impresses the people. For this reason, by His different way, Jesus creates a critical conscience in people concerning the religious authority of that time. The people compare and say: He teaches with authority, in a way different from the way the scribes do. The scribes of that time taught quoting the authority. Jesus does not quote any authority. He speaks with His experience of God and of His life. His word is rooted in the heart.
• You have come to destroy us! In Mark, the first miracle is the expulsion of the devil. Jesus struggles and expels the power of evil that takes possession of people and alienates them from themselves. The man possessed by the devil shouts: “I know who You are: You are the Holy One of God!” The man repeated the official teaching which presented the Messiah as the “Holy One of God”, as a High Priest, or like a King, Judge, Doctor or General. Even today, many people live alienated from themselves, deceived by the power of mass media, mass communication, and the advertising of business. They repeat what they hear others say. They live as slaves of consumerism, oppressed by the power of money, and threatened by debtors. Many think that their life is not as it should be if they cannot buy what the advertising recommends.
• Jesus rebuked the evil spirit: “Be quiet! Come out of him!” The spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. Jesus restores the person to himself. He gives him back his conscience and his liberty. He makes the person recover his complete judgment (cf. Mk 5:15). It was not easy then, it was not easy yesterday, and it is not easy today to do this in such a way that a person begins to think and act in a way which diverges from the official ideology.
• A new teaching! He commands even the evil spirits. The first two signs of the Good News are these: His different way of teaching the things of God, and His power over evil spirits. Jesus opens a new road in order for people to attain purity. At that time, a person who was declared impure could not present himself/herself before God to pray and to receive the blessing promised by God to Abraham. He/she should first purify himself/herself. These and many other laws and norms made the life of people very difficult and marginalized many people who were considered impure and far from God. Now, purified by the contact with Jesus, people could present themselves before God. This was a great Good News!
4) Personal questions
• Can I really say: “I am fully free, master of myself? If I cannot say it of myself, then something in me is possessed by other powers. What do I do to expel this strange power?
• Today many people do not live, do not think, but rather are driven by mass media. They do not have a critical mind or way of thinking. They allow other masters into their lives. How can this “devil” be expelled?
5) Concluding prayer
Yahweh our Lord,
how majestic is Your name throughout the world!
What are human beings that You spare a thought for them,
or the child of Adam that You care for him? (Ps 8,1.4)