Dt 18:15-20; Ps 95; 1Cor 7:32-35; Mk 1,21-28
Capernaum was the center of Jesus’ activities in Galilee. The synagogue was the heart of the Jewish community. It was the Sabbath, a holy day for them. According to their religious rules they prayed and read the Bible. Every man could be invited to give a commentary of the holy text. Usually, the scribes were the ones who interpreted the Scriptures.
At the beginning of the Gospel, Mark shows how Jesus, after having called his first disciples, came to the synagogue in Capernaum to teach the people. They “were astonished at his teaching”, perceiving the difference between the Master from Nazareth and the scribes. They saw Jesus as “one having authority”. What was the source of this authority? Was it just a nice talk which he delivered to them or something else?
Force of God’s Word
Maybe while the people in the synagogue were listening to him, they realized that he was an exceptional teacher. There was something extraordinary in him, a special power in his words. We don’t know the sermon of Jesus, because Mark doesn’t tell us the content of the speech. However, in the gospel of Matthew, we find that the long sermon of the mountain was finished with this conclusion: “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” (Mt 7:28-29). Mark chooses the other perspective. He wants to pay attention to the effect which the word should have in the history of salvation. It is why Mark presents the three protagonists of this meeting in the synagogue: Jesus, the people, and Satan. He then he describes the miracle of driving out the demon from a man.
It is interesting that the description of the miracle came after the first astonishment of the people gathered in the synagogue. The miracle reinforced even more the astonishment. “All were amazed” that he taught with such authority and the unclean spirits obeyed to Jesus’ words. God’s word has to have an impact in our lives, it has to purify our hearts and consciences, it has to determine our behavior, our deeds, our decisions and form our community and social life.
Sword against the Devil
Mark shows in this scene in Capernaum that Jesus has started the decisive confrontation with Satan. Jesus’ presence and first teaching in the synagogue provoked his attack. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” Satan knew very well that Jesus threatened his work. Christ came to liberate people from Satan’s power. The miracle performed by Jesus in the synagogue confirmed the domination of God`s power over the attempts of the Devil. It signified the coming of God’s kingdom which spells the end of the demons’ power.
Jesus threw the unclean spirits out and cured the man just by the power of his word. The power of his healing word reinforced the authority of his teaching. It is a very important sign for us to believe in the supernatural power of God’s word. It is not only wise words but above all the words given to us from God, and also to defend ourselves from the attacks of Satan. In reading and reflecting on the Scripture in our daily lives, we arm ourselves against our enemy who very much wants to destroy our relationship with Jesus. Don’t miss the opportunities to get to know the word given to us by God.
Fr. Andrzej Dobrzyński