Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
There is a story about a priest who decided to go on his annual retreat to a monastery in Ireland. He had never been there before, and when he arrived, he introduced himself to a fellow priest and asked, “How are you, Father?” The priest replies, “I’m doing well. But there is still a bit of the devil in me!” It sounds funny, but doesn’t the priest’s response tell the truth about all of us? There is still a “bit of the devil” in all of us. Why? Because we have not yet overcome our attachment to sin.
This would certainly be true of the man with the unclean spirit in today’s Gospel narrative. But think of this. It was possible that no one would have suspected anything was wrong with the man in question. After all, he was in the synagogue on the Sabbath, so he was obeying the Jewish law. It is also possible that his outward appearance didn’t give any clues that anything was out of order. However, inside, where no one could see, the man was unclean. We could say this about any one of us. However, with the grace of God, we try to be the holy person we are called to be.
What then acutely occurred in the Gospel account? Saint Mark relates this event in the first chapter, which is at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. As listeners, we learn how Jesus demonstrates His teaching and His power over the “unclean spirit.”
The eye-witnesses try to grasp what they have observed. They describe the particular quality of His teaching as coming from one “with authority.” Yet, the crowd does not seem to identify the source of this authority and power. The source is identified from an unlikely voice, that of the possessed man, who shouts out, “I know who you are—
the Holy One of God!”
I suspect that there will always be “a bit of the devil” in all of us. But when we let go of our egos and attachment to sin, Jesus takes His place in our lives. In so doing, the words of John the Baptist ring true to all of us, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Therefore, we must decrease as God increases within us.
In many ways, we are just like the possessed man in our Gospel narrative. Only we know the demons inside us. We live our lives as if everything is normal. It may just look that way but, being true to ourselves, we know that there is nothing normal about it. Sometimes it takes courage to deal with our sinfulness. Jesus understands our human nature. Trust in His forgiving grace, and remember that he loves you as much as you love Him.
Question of the Day: How will you ask Jesus to rid you of your sins?
Prayer: “Let your face shine on your servant, and save me by your love. Lord, keep me from shame, for I have called to you.” (Psalm 31)