In our gospel reading today, in the Synagogue, as a result of Jesus’ teaching, the people were spellbound because of the authority he displayed. His teaching was with authority, quite unlike their own scribes. The scribes were the expert scholars in religious law, who presided over the synagogue services. As legal experts, they claimed oral traditions to be more important than the written law, thus tending towards religious formalism. As religious authorities, they gathered students around, whom they taught in the temple, and at the same time, as lawyers, they administered the law as unpaid judges in the Sanhedrin. While some of them believed in Jesus, some others clashed with him.
In teaching, they relied on external authorities, or bibliography of other teachings, but Jesus’ teaching was not like their own. Jesus teaches with authority that resides in him. He teaches with divine power and authority. Jesus’ presence emanated divine aura and majesty. His presence was a teaching presence, a healing presence, the presence that reveals the Father’s presence and his Spirit of holiness. Jesus’ presence, emanated holiness, and provoked ungodly powers and sent then running away. Jesus’ presence was the light shining in the darkness, which the darkness could not overcome, as St. John would put it. This is what the people of Capernaum were spellbound about. Jesus could not use another authority or power, except the one that comes from him, in his oneness with the Father in the Holy Spirit. He exercised his power in his two-fold love for the Father and humanity. In his divine mission, he comes to save humanity by loving us, and to lift us out of our infirmities, and to elevate us to share life with the Father in himself.
In the Synagogue in Capernaum, we see how a man with unclean spirit shrieked at the sight of Jesus. The unclean spirit started speaking. But Jesus rebuked him sharply, saying: “be quiet! Come out of the man!” The evil spirit convulsed the man violently and with a loud shriek came out of him. At the amazement of the people, they recognized the Spirit of authority with which Jesus teaches and drives away all evil spirits. Jesus exorcises these demons. Exorcism is a spiritual tool used to drive out demons or unclean spirits. It is a powerful arsenal in spiritual warfare used to liberate those under a demonic influence. In the New Testament, however, Jesus’ driving out of demons was a prominent feature of his ministry. This was a key sign that the kingdom of God has come and that God’s Spirit was mightily at work through him. Jesus had such a commanding authority over principalities and powers that he could simply command them in these words: “Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit: (Mark 5:8). These unclean spirits recognized this power of Jesus over them. Hence, Mark 3:11 says: “And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.” This power was not only recognized by these demons. The Jews also noticed it. Hence, Luke 4:36 says: “And they were all amazed, and spoke among themselves, saying, ”What a word is this! For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” As a result, people with unclean spirits began looking for him to be healed. In this regard, Mark 7:25 says: “For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet.”
The life of the Christian is a persistent and continuous struggle, consisting of the “seen and unseen;” visible and invisible forces. Every time the Christian loses this struggle it constitutes a sin or a “fall”. Here, there is always a transgression against God. This is the reality of the Christian. And each time there is a defeat that puts us in the column of the enemy we need deliverance. In the Old Testament this would involve ritual cleansing or purification in order to become whole again. Christians are reminded that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (see Ephesians 6:10-20).
This is a call to be holy and to be ready to win our spiritual battles. As the gospel of today has taught us, holiness can destabilize demonic forces. In the gospel text of today, we can see the demon calling Jesus the “Holy One of God.”