Thursday January 20, 2011
Scripture: Mark 3: 7-12
The Gospel’s today is a summary of the activity of Jesus and it stresses an enormous contrast. If you meditate the Gospel from last Friday until yesterday, you will see the conflicts of the life and death between Jesus and the civil and religious authority of Galilee. And here, in the summary, we see the contrary: a big popular movement, greater than the movement of John the Baptist, because people come not only from Galilee, but also from Judea, from Jerusalem, from Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and even from the pagan region of Tyre and Sidon to encounter Jesus! They want to see him and to touch him. The people are so numerous, that Jesus himself is concerned. There is the danger of being crushed by the multitude. This is why he asks the disciples to have a boat ready for him so that the crowd would not crush him. And from the boat he spoke to the crowds. There were the excluded and the marginalized who came to him with their illness. Those who were not accepted to live in the society of the time were accepted by Jesus. Here is the contrast: on the one side the religious and civil leaders decided to put Jesus to death (Mk 3, 6); on the other side, a big popular movement seeking salvation in Jesus. Who will win?
First of all, the unclean spirits and Jesus. Mark insists very much on the expulsion of the unclean spirits. The first miracle of Jesus is the expulsion of the unclean spirits (Mk 1, 25). The first impact caused by Jesus is due to the expulsion of the devil (Mk 1, 27). One of the principal causes of the clash of Jesus with the Scribes is the expulsion of the unclean spirits (Mk 3, 22). The first power which the Apostles received when they were sent out on mission was the power to expel the demons (Mk 16, 17). What does it mean in Mark’s Gospel to drive out or expel the evil spirits?
Second, at the time of Mark the fear of the devil was increasing. Some religions instead of liberating the people, increased fear and anguish. One of the objectives of the Good News of Jesus is precisely to help people to liberate themselves from this fear. The coming of the Kingdom means the coming of a stronger power. Jesus is “the stronger man” who has come to conquer and overcome Satan, the power of evil, and to take away from him, to rob humanity imprisoned by fear (Mk 3, 27). This is why Mark insists very much on the victory of Jesus over the power of evil, over the devil, over Satan, sin and death. From the beginning to the end of Mark’s Gospel, with almost similar words, he repeats the same message: “And Jesus drove out, expelled the impure spirits!” It seems almost a refrain which is repeated! Today, instead of using always the same words, we prefer to use different words. We would say: “The power of evil, Satan, which causes so much fear to people; Jesus overcomes him, dominates him, conquers him, threw him off the throne, drove him out or expelled him, eliminated him, knocked him down, destroyed him and killed him!” What Mark wants to tell us is the following: “Christians are forbidden to be afraid of Satan!” After Jesus rose from the dead, it is a mania and a lack of faith to call in cause Satan, at every moment, as if he still had any power on us. To insist on the danger of the devil in order that people may return to Church means to ignore the Good News of the Kingdom. It is a lack of faith in the Resurrection of Jesus!
How do we live our faith in the Resurrection of Jesus? Does it help in some way to help us overcome fear? To drive away or expel the devil! What do we do in order to neutralize this power in our life?
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Son of God and the Saviour of the world. Inflame our heart with a burning love for you and with an expectant faith in your saving power. Set us free from all that hinders us from drawing closer to you.