The Gospel according to 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.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, help me to recognize Your voice in my life. Help me to see that reaching out to those around me in love is how I make Your Kingdom present right now, right here. Give me Your wisdom to know where You are calling me, and help me to try more and more every day to walk in that path with You. Amen
Even from the beginning of His Gospel account, Mark highlights that Jesus was always about action, demonstrating that the Kingdom of God was truly at hand. It is interesting that Mark’s focus on action also was on the teaching power of Jesus and how different it was from the Pharisees, the religious leaders of His time. This story today reminds us of that fact. Yes, the people were amazed at how Jesus healed the man possessed by evil spirits, but the comment they made is specifically about His teaching and the authority with which He spoke. Mark’s Gospel account shows that Jesus’ followers had to act boldly to share His Good News.
Jesus calls each of us to live a life that stands out. We are called to love others and to care for them at least as much as we do ourselves. That life and love must be demonstrated by our actions. We are called to forgive and to go out of our own “comfort zones”. Jesus did not promise that life as His follower would be easy. Truly, He calls us to give and love even (and especially) when we don’t have the energy or ability to do it. Being able to do that is the gift that God gives to us.
Many of us likely looked at the unrest in Washington DC this past week, or at the many protests around the country from this past summer, with the same sense of alarm and concern. That is a very natural human response. We naturally want to live a life of peaceful tranquility, and know that we can focus on our own lives and not worry about the underlying structure of our society. Both events may have caused us to wonder about that underlying structure. What can each of us do to make a difference when there is such pain, and such unfair treatment in our world and in our country? We may feel powerless, or guilty, if we haven’t always demonstrated the equality of all in God’s eyes.
Let us not be discouraged, though. We need to start by focusing on Jesus, and prayerfully asking Him to show us the actions He wants us to take to make the world a better place. We may not think that just praying can make a difference. Prayer can change everything, if only we trust in the One to whom we pray. And, let us do as St Teresa of Calcutta once said, and strive not necessarily to “do great things, but to do small things with great love.”
Closing Prayer: Lord, I am faced with a world filled with violence, greed, hunger and evil. I struggle to believe that you have overcome evil. Help me to see that you are at work in the small signs of love, justice and truth around me. Amen.
Action for the Day: Think about what word you would like to hear God speak. Take a few moments this week to listen to God and prepare yourself for his loving touch.