What Do You Want Of Us, Jesus Of Nazareth?
Our blessed Lord began his public ministry announcing that the kingdom of God was at hand, calling people to repentance while accepting the good news he proclaims. Peter, Andrew, James, and John believed him and became his first companions, and will later be called apostles. Many others are about to encounter a personality that will mesmerize their imagination. Jesus is the kind of person that no one has ever seen. Moses made a prediction that God will raise a prophet with great majesty and power for his people. Jesus fulfils that prediction.
Observing the encounter between Jesus and the unclean spirit in today’s gospel, one concludes that an extraordinary process is under way. His vast knowledge of scripture and excellent commentaries speak to his audience in ways that inspire and convey greater authority. Everyone is struck by the vigor and originality of his teaching. His style of teaching is different, and words well up from within him like water from its true source.
As you hear the Gospel proclaimed today, do you feel the impact of the word of the Gospel? Do you take a moment to meditate over the words of Jesus? Does his word fill you with life and vigor as the crowd felt in the gospel story? In the gospel, Jesus’ audience felt something so powerful in his words and actions. It was a feeling of delighted admiration mixed with fright and astonishment. It was at this point the man possessed by the unclean spirit spoke and questioned Jesus. He shouted, “What do you want of us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?”
His outburst does in many ways represent our own aspirations. A cry for help, a cry of desperation and an invitation for dialogue. “It is the experience of every human being who really hears and grasps the Lord’s message.” The unclean spirit in the man said it all. He understood the power before him. “He realized that the word of God put him at a loss, overthrowing everything that he would seek to be and the means to achieve his ends.” Indeed, this man gave us an insight on who Jesus is. He said to Jesus. “I know who you are; the Holy One of God.” He professed faith in Jesus even though he was tormented by the unclean spirit. Jesus, in response, imposed silence and commanded the unclean spirit to depart.
This incident further demonstrates that there are evil Spirits and powers that cause havoc in people’s lives. Through Jesus, God’s reign on earth is made visible and the present order of the world is subjected to reform. The unclean Spirit and the evil Spirits which dominate the world will be driven out by Jesus. We are surrounded by evil and atrocities to the extent we feel discouraged and helpless. Faith in Jesus Christ is the beginning of our victory and liberation. The reign of God is here, and everything will undergo renewal and transformation. There is room to be hopeful.
Are we ready to accept the reign of God? Are we ready to trust him who has power to cast out evil Spirits? Is our anxiety depriving us of the courage to trust Jesus? Let us remember that Satan and his evil Spirits are frustrated and incapable of giving love. Jesus comes with love and will transform the world with love and sacrifice. St. Paul addresses the anxieties that weigh on us and the ups and downs of life that stress us. We are now part of God’s reign, and it includes a trust and confidence that God guides and directs our lives and that he cares for us.
Grace And Peace To You,
Rev. Vitalis Anyanike