- We can perceive a common theme in our Readings today. This is the reality of spirits, both good and bad, as well as their impact on the human person. The 1st Reading is from 1 Cor. 2:10-16. St. Paul writes about the Spirit of God and about the spiritual person. Through the Holy Spirit God has revealed his secret, his “mystery” (see vv. 7-10). The mystery is God’s plan of salvation through His Crucified Son. It is “only the Spirit who knows what pertains to God” (v. 11). We have been given the Holy Spirit and not the spirit of this world. We are not merely natural persons. We are spiritual persons, living in the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that gives us “the mind of Christ” (see vv. 14-16).
- While St. Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit in the 1st Reading, St. Luke narrates the driving out of an evil spirit in today’s Gospel, Lk. 4:31-37. Jesus is rejected in Nazareth. He is now in Capernaum, teaching in the synagogue. His authority is manifest in his words. “They were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority” (v. 32).
- In the synagogue, an evil spirit that has possessed a man shouts at Jesus. “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!” (v. 34). Incredible! While His townmates reject Him, the evil spirit recognizes Him as the Holy One of God, the Messiah! Our mind goes back to the angel telling the shepherds in Bethlehem to see the child in the manger, “the Messiah and Lord” (see Lk. 2:11). Good angels and bad angels (devils, evil spirits) both know who Jesus is. Another demon, driven out by Jesus, would also declare, “You are the Son of God!” (v. 41).
- “Have you come to destroy us?” (v. 34). The devil’s words reflect an old belief that when the day of the Lord comes the Messiah will destroy all evil and wrest Satan’s control over humanity. The episode ends as it began – the awe of the people before Jesus. “What is there about his word? For with authority, he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” (v. 36).
- We do not know how Jesus spoke. Certainly not with human wisdom, but with the wisdom of the Spirit. We do not know if he had the eloquence of an orator. But oration does not mean much for Jesus. He has astonishing authority in his words and action. He teaches from his heart. He teaches in the Spirit. His words, his mind, his heart, and his actions converge in revealing what His Father tells him. Would that all of us, teachers and preachers, have such unity of heart, mind, words and action!
- Evil spirits still prowl over our land. They take possession of persons and structures. They manifest themselves in Pride, Greed, Selfishness, Possessiveness, Ambition, Avaricious Desire for Power and Wealth. They cause corruption and poverty. COVID-19 still rages. Unjust killings, kidnappings, terrorism instill continuing fear and insecurity. The need for social exorcism and radical renewal is never as urgent as now.
- “The Lord lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:14). From evil spirits, deliver us, O Lord.
- We need to “have the mind of Christ,” to have his values, the values of the Gospel and of the Kingdom — and live them. If we live in the Spirit, if we walk justly, humbly, and love the poor and the needy tenderly, we would have the mind of Christ.
Prayers, stay safe, God bless!