In this Sunday’s Gospel when Jesus enters the synagogue the person who recognizes Him is the one who is possessed by an evil spirit. This is more interesting than may first appear. We tend to hear these Gospel stories with the benefit of history and our faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. But the people at the time did not have this benefit. They saw Jesus as a healer and a wonder-worker but they did not know who He was. They were meeting Him for the first time. Some were amazed as we see in this Gospel story. Others were threatened by Him because He didn’t fit into their religious understanding. Still others objected to His claims and actions as we can see in this story because He cured the man on the Sabbath which is against the law.
Thus, when Jesus enters the temple the fact that the man possessed by an evil spirit recognizes Him is significant: “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.” Who is the “us”? They are the legions of the devil, the evil spirits who are said to be many. It is the devil who is speaking through this possessed man. The devil recognizes he is in the presence of the “Holy One of God” because he cannot abide being in God’s presence. He knows that God is more powerful.We come once again to the source of our confidence in God: the power of God’s love is greater than the power of evil. That’s why the devil asks: “Have you come to destroy us?”
As we look around our world today we see so much evil. The recent events in Paris where such cold-blooded and deliberate murders took place in broad daylight and the tragic assassination of two good police officers in Brooklyn are ample evidence of evil. These and other events give us good reason to fear and to wonder if evil is winning the day. As we contemplate these tragedies and pray for those who died and for those who mourn their passing, let us turn to Christ Jesus and call upon His presence and His love to lift us out of the mire of fear and confusion and fill our hearts with the virtues of courage and hope. And let us flood the world with goodness and kindness, peace and compassion. We can feel helpless in the face of such massive evil and that feeling of powerlessness can be discouraging and debilitating.
Even if we cannot solve the world’s problems we can make a difference where we live and with whom we interact. The power of God’s love remains greater than the power of evil. We share in that power when we love one another and go the extra mile to bring God’s compassion into our weary world. In this effort let us stand together and rely upon God’s grace to move forward.
May the Lord give you peace.
Rev. James M. McNamara