The Word of God


Reflection on Mass Reading for January 14, 2020

“The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” To be astonished is no laughing matter, literally. It means that something very urgent and dramatic has occurred that has caused you to stop and wonder, “what just happened here?” This is what we have encountered today in the Gospel:
“What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” This passage is specially interesting because it is the first time in St. Mark’s Gospel where we encounter demonic possession. The ancient world believed that the air was thickly populated with evil spirits which sought entry into everyone and furthermore taught that they did enter through food or drink. All illness was caused by them. The Egyptians believed there were thirty-six different parts of the human body and any of them could be entered and controlled by one of these evil spirits. There were spirits of deafness, of dumbness, of fever; spirits which took a man’s sanity and wits away; spirits of lying and of deceit and of uncleanness. It was such a spirit that Jesus exorcised here. “Jesus rebuked him and said, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’”

However dramatic or dark, this topic of confronting evil and evil spirits is good for each and every one of us: every day is a challenge and a struggle to live this life and walk this walk. We live in a world of darkness and terror and unless we hold the Light of Christ within us, we will indeed be swallowed up in despair. Thus, the battle of light and darkness is not just outside of us, it is also within us. And we have Jesus especially in the Eucharist to help us move forward in faith. Evil is not sustainable because it has already been defeated. It is now up to us to join the winning, victorious team: “My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted in my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory.”


“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

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