Sunday, January 28, 2024
Mark 1:21-28

“They went to Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue and began to teach. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.”
(Mark 1:21-28)

Until today, the synagogue is a place of assembly, gathering, and prayer, where the scrolls of Sacred Scripture are kept in an ark called Aron haKodesh, ‘holy ark.’ In this place, prayers are offered, and the sacred texts are read and commented upon on the Sabbath. Jesus, too, used to teach in the synagogue. In this passage from the Gospel of Mark, the content of the Master’s teaching in the synagogue of Capernaum is not reported, but His authority is emphasized twice, before and after the exorcism. While Jesus was speaking, a man possessed by an unclean spirit was in “their” synagogue; everything suggests that he was not just passing through but was a member of the community. For him, that Sabbath marks a change. The one teaching in the synagogue is not just any rabbi or scribe; this one has authority! It is indeed He, Jesus, the Son of God, who makes the difference and exercises His authority to set him free. He “appeared to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8b), who “has been a murderer from the beginning (…) and is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). The devil is directly against God, but unable to harm Him, he opposes His works and His creatures. Sin, understood as disobedience and autonomy from God, sells us out to the devil and his followers and brings us under his sphere of influence.

The devil uses two fundamental lies: the first is: I DO NOT EXIST! I am a fable invented to instill fear. But once discovered, he puts forward another lie dictated by his pride: I AM STRONGER! The truth, however, is that he is defeated by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, who came to conquer sin and “bought us at a price,” at the cost of His blood (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23).

The doctrine that Jesus gives us is a word of life, which has the power to set us free and gives us victory in His name. Let us embrace it!

Fr. Giuseppe