Jesus went down to the city of Capernaum in Galilee and taught the people each Sabbath. They were amazed by his teaching because he delivered his message with authority.
A man in the synagogue had the spirit of an unclean demon. He screamed, “Hey! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are. You are the holy one from God.”
“Silence!” Jesus said, speaking harshly to the demon. “Come out of him!” The demon threw the man down before them, then came out of him without harming him.
They were all shaken and said to each other, “What kind of word is this, that he can command unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave?” Reports about him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.
“Religion should be a private matter,” he said to her, the vein bulging on his forehead. “Keep it out of the public square!”
“It has every bearing on society,” she rebutted, putting down her sign. “If it’s only for private experiences, then it’s worthless.”
Along with friends and strangers who felt the same way, Amanda was picketing the state capitol. There was a heavy debate going on about the death penalty. She, and several other clergy, were against it. Their signs were about peace and forgiveness with different religious sayings on them. The young man came up to Amanda talking about the separation of church and state. He then began to attack her because she was a priest. Things went downhill from there.
This little scenario gets played out more than one would like to admit. When our daughter was younger, the war in Iraq was in full steam. During the summer, she was part of a Peace Camp at a local church. One day, the Peace Campers gathered at a busy intersection holding up signs that said, “Honk for Peace” and “Stop the War.” One guy drove by yelling that they hated America.
Today’s Gospel reading reminds us that The Way of Jesus is not about private spirituality. Jesus’ confrontation with the possessed man was not just a spiritual battle. It was also public battle. It took place in the synagogue in front of several people. The text says that they were “all shaken” by the outcome. It moved them.
Not only was it a public confrontation, it also had social ramifications. This man would now be able to be part of society, no longer seen and treated like an outcast. He would be able to now contribute to society - buy and sell goods, attend meetings, shape public policy, worship.
The Realm of G_d is not just a private phenomenon. It’s a global phenomena. G_d’s Realm is not only concerned with the souls of people but the policies of government and the mores of society. When we choose to follow The Way of Jesus, “reports about [us should] spread everywhere.”
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC