Mk 1: 21-28
Then Jesus and his disciples entered Capernaum. When the Sabbath arrived, Jesus lost no time in getting to the meeting place. He spent the day there teaching. They were surprised at his teaching – so forthright, so confident – not quibbling and quoting like the religion scholars.
Suddenly, while still in the meeting place, he was interrupted by a man who was deeply disturbed and yelling out, “What business do you have here with us, Jesus? Nazarene! I know what you’re up to! You’re the Holy One of God, and you’ve come to destroy us!”
Jesus shut him up: “Quiet! Get out of him!” The afflicting spirit threw the man into spasms, protesting loudly – and got out.
Everyone there was incredulous, buzzing with curiosity. “What’s going on here? A new teaching that does what it says? He shuts up defiling, demonic spirits and sends them packing!”
News of this travelled fast and was soon all over Galilee.
The Word requires discernment- a personal relationship that takes time and conversational prayer – including a certain amount of silence and stillness – to find its meaning. The people have spent so much time hearing a mere dictation of the Word of God and now here is the Word being broken by the Holy One himself. But although the people realise that there is something about this man, seemingly the wisest of them is the demon – the unclean spirit.
Mark talks a lot about ‘ears that hear’ and ‘eyes that see’. These onlookers see an authority, a power in Jesus, yet, they are unable to make the distinction between the authority of a clever man and the truth of God’s Word. Their ears and eyes see the results; not the source.
The demon simply trusts its instincts. For all this time, perhaps, it has been ‘sitting comfortably’ in the synagogue; the prayers and the words of the scribes washing over it because there has been no conviction, no authority. Because the words and the prayers have been learned by rote and not by heart and, in fact, fear, uncertainty and exclusion have only added to its power.
There is power in names and the demon calls out with both of Jesus’ titles – recognises him as human and divine – but, amongst all of the listeners, there is no-one to hear except Jesus.