Leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the house of Simon. His mother-in-law was suffering from high fever and they asked him to do something for her. Bending over her, he rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and waited on them.
At sunset, people suffering from many kinds of sickness were brought to Jesus. Laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Demons were driven out, howling as they departed from their victims, “You are the Son of God!” He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, for they knew he was the Messiah.
Jesus left at daybreak and looked for a solitary place. People went out in search of him and, finding him, they tried to dissuade him from leaving. But he said, “I have to go to other towns to announce the good news of the kingdom of God. That is what I was sent to do.” And Jesus continued to preach in the synagogues of Galilee.
The following reflections are meant to complete yesterday’s reflections, which attempted to refute the rationalist interpretation of Jesus’ exorcism as mere healings of psychic disorders.
Item. The behavior of Jesus is very different when he is dealing with a merely sick person and when he is dealing with a possessed person. In the first case he speaks kindly and encouragingly to the patient, and displays the greatest compassion for him or her. In the second case, he speaks harshly and mordantly, not to the victim of the demon (who does not seem to be aware of what is going on), but rather to the entity which possesses the body of the victim and speaks through the victim.
Item. When a merely sick person confronts Jesus, his or her behavior is very different from that of a possessed person. In the first case, the person is fully conscious, speaks humbly and respectfully to Jesus, acts with normal calm. But, in the second case, the speaker is not the victim of the possessing entity, it is the entity possessing the victim. Often enough that entity will betray a supernatural knowledge of Jesus’ real identity. How can mere mental illness explain this? (For a thorough treatment of this question, cf. Nil Guillemette, “Exorcisms or Healings?” in Your Heart’s Treasure (Manila: Paulines, 2010), pp. 112-142).