Good News for the Day, January 9, 2018
The Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary (306)
Jesus moved in at Capernaum along with some people he had inspired. On the sabbath He would go to the synagogue and would teach there. People were impressed when he taught because he was teaching them like someone with authenticity—not the way smart, educated people did. In their synagogue once, there was a man with an obsession about sex (“an unclean spirit”) who cried out, “What is your business with us, Jesus from Nazareth? Have you come to eliminate us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him, “Shut up! Get out of him!” The obsessive spirit convulsed him and left him with a loud cry. Everybody was surprised, and were asking one another, “What is this? A fresh teaching with such conviction! He commands even unclean spirits and they obey him.” His reputation spread everywhere—throughout all of Galilee. (Mark 1)
The connection between telling the truth—that is, teaching with a conviction people recognize—as opposed to the same old, same old—is the point. In the end, the truth Jesus is offering is not what some Bible—or other great book or wise person—says and you just repeat. Nor is it whatever you might think is true. What is true arises, yes, from God! But how does it work? How does truth truly affect a person’s soul?
First—the truth drives out demons. In this event, Jesus comes, tells the truth. Like so many of us when challenged about faults, this person with an “unclean spirit” responds first with knee-jerk hostility—a counterattack. He wants to keep his life, his spirit. But then—then he changes—he becomes the reverse of what he was. Why?
Jesus preaches a simple message—our Father-Creator loves “you”—and the power of being loved—coming through others– can transform you. Being loved as a brother or sister gifts you with a fresh strength, an inner peace. Being loved—accepting an authentic sense of being loved—sears away your desire to control others, to abuse and gratify yourself—or even defend yourself. You come to rest, to be at peace.
Second, then, that peace makes your bad habits, addictions, hidden sins, and compulsions—your demons—leave. Maybe not dramatically (but sometimes, yes).
Eventually, an attitude of compassion and respect replaces unknown habits of coldness, fear, anger or disdain. A lifestyle of superiority and a pursuit of self-gratification give way to a surprising child-like sweetness of character. Family and friends are surprised—and, most often, thank God. It is His power that makes the difference, and they come to acknowledge how you are—now—a child of God–different, holy!