They went into the town of Capernaum and Jesus taught in the synagogue on the sabbath day. The people were astonished at the way he taught, for he spoke as one having authority and not like the teachers of the Law.
It happened that a man with an evil spirit was in their synagogue, and he shouted, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: you are the Holy One of God.” Then Jesus faced him and said with authority, “Be silent, and come out of this man!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and, with a loud shriek, came out of him.
All the people were astonished, and they wondered, “What is this? With what authority he preaches! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him!” And Jesus’ fame spread throughout all the country of Galilee.
Evil in its many forms will always be a human reality we have to contend with. It can dwell in human hearts and can be perpetrated by an individual, a group, a system, or even a nation causing conflicts, wars, and untold human sufferings. One form of evil that has been the subject of intense scrutiny is that of some forms of mental illness that can lead to violent behavior. Yet we do not have to be mentally ill to know that evil can settle in our hearts. In our sinful nature, there is already in us a constant struggle between the forces of good and the spirits of evil. Although we strive for love, peace and unity, there is also in us a force that works for strife and division. We can be weighed down by our wounded past, tempting us to choose the path of darkness. In today’s Gospel, evil spirits even in a place of worship is confronting Jesus. Invariably these spirits recognize him, his true identity and mission, even confessing his divinity and power over them. As the Gospel demonstrates, only the power of Jesus’ words is able to cast away all spirits of deceit, violence, burden and pain.
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