A couple of years ago, I think I read in Fr. Tommy Lane homily, he writes, once when he was on retreat in a monastery in Ireland he greeted one of the monks and asked, “How are you, Father?” He replied, “There is still a bit of the devil in me!” It sounds funny but it expresses a truth about all of us, “there is still a bit of the devil in us” because we have not yet overcome our attachment to sin. “There is still a bit of the devil in me!” would certainly be true of the man with the unclean spirit in the Gospel today (Mark 1:21-28).
This weekend's readings remind us that God is with us. He cares for us and our needs. In the first reading, we see Moses who shared with the people of Israel God’s promise. Moses was about to die. People were concerned about their future. Moses was leading them through the wilderness to the Promised Land and he is about to die. The question was for them, now how were they going to know the will of God. God answered their concern and question through Moses. He told them, God will raise a prophet like him and they will learn the will of God from no one but their prophets. There are two sides to this promise. The first hint is all the true prophets who were to succeed Moses will bring them the will of God. The second is that this promise ultimately leads to the coming of Jesus. This passage came to be understood in a quasi-Messianic sense in the New Testament. Peter in his kerygmatic discourse (Acts 3:22) mentions the promise from the Deuteronomy (18:15), in the first reading.
At the transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:7), Moses and Elijah appeared. There was a bright cloud that cast a shadow over them, a voice came from the cloud that said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Here we see Father reveals His Son, and an invitation to listen to him.
In the Gospel, we see Jesus in Capernaum, in Galilee, the center of his ministry. The new Moses is here, who inaugurated the new exodus at the baptism in Jordan. Israelites celebrated Sabbath on the seventh day of the week. The temple is in Jerusalem, but every city had a Synagogue which is a small building used for the gathering for prayer, worship, and instruction in the scripture. It took place day-to-day catechesis of the people. Jesus was there and he was already considered as a teacher and they were in amazement in his teaching.
Most of the people recognize Jesus; there were people who ignored Jesus. In this Gospel passage, there was a man with an unclean spirit. This unclean spirit confesses that Jesus is the “Holy One.” It was not because of the faith, but it was out of fear. The unclean spirit obeyed Jesus and came out of him. It couldn’t resist Jesus’ word. The Divine power is displayed through Jesus' word.
Today, Jesus invites us to do his mission. We received this call at baptism, then confirmed, and nourishes at every Eucharist. He is not calling us to do exactly what he did. He is calling us to give his presence to others. It could be by being next to them, sometimes it could be through our prayers, some other times it could be sharing our talents or treasure. In order to do these things, we need to find nourishment and renew our spirit. We need to confess Him as “Holy One,” not out of fear, but out of LOVE. Every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus renews his saving commitment to us. He breaks and gives to us for our nourishment and send us out to continue to share with others.