Wondering what Understanding the Gospel is? Check out the 1st post in the series for an explanation.
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B
If you would like to read the entire text of today’s readings you can find that here.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus and the disciples arrive at Capernaum, a small village on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus teaches in the synagogue on the Sabbath and people respond to Jesus’ teaching with astonishment, noting Jesus’ authority and comparing it to the authority of the scribes.
While there, a man possessed with an unclean spirit calls out to Jesus. As we see in this example and throughout the Gospels, the spirits and demons seem to know Jesus and are often fearful of him. In fact, they seem to understand who Jesus is better than his disciples. As we will read again and again in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus orders the spirit to be quiet and drives the unclean spirit out of the man. Jesus’ ability to heal those possessed by demons is an indication of his power over evil.
We obviously understand illness very differently these days. Possession by unclean spirits may have been a way to describe what we might call mental illness today. It may have even been a way of describing certain kinds of physical conditions. There is evidence that there were many kinds of exorcists and healers in first-century Palestine. Jesus appears to be like these healers, except he heals with unique authority and connects his healing activities with the words of his preaching.
The important thing about today’s Gospel is that the crowds see Jesus’ cure of the possessed man as an affirmation of his authority. It made people pay attention to him and tell their friends about him.
What does it mean for someone to have authority?
People should see in our lives the power and authority of God at work. Can you name any examples of people in whom you have seen the power and authority of God at work?
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