According to Mark, Jesus’ first public action was the healing of a man possessed by an evil spirit in the synagogue of Capernaum. It’s a gripping scene, narrated so that right from the start its readers discover the healing and freeing power of Jesus.
It’s the Sabbath and the people are meeting in the synagogue to hear the commentary of the Law explained by the scribes. For the first time Jesus is going to proclaim the Good News of God precisely in the place where they officially teach Israel’s religious traditions to the people.
They end up surprised at what they hear. They have the impression that up until now they have been listening to old news, spoken without authority. Jesus is different. He doesn’t repeat what he has heard from others. He speaks with authority. He announces a good God freely and without fear.
Suddenly a man starts to shout: «Have you come to destroy us?». As he listened to Jesus’ message he felt threatened. His religious world is falling down. It’s said that he’s possessed by an «unclean spirit», hostile to God. What strange forces keep him from listening to Jesus any more? What damaging and perverse experiences block his path toward the good God that Jesus is announcing?
Jesus isn’t afraid. He sees the poor man oppressed by evil and he shouts: «Be quiet! Come out of him!». He orders these evil voices to be silenced because they don’t allow the man to meet God or even meet himself. Let him recover the silence that heals what deepest in the human being.
The narrator describes the healing in a dramatic fashion. In one last attempt to destroy the man, the spirit «threw the man into convulsion and with a loud cry went out of him». Jesus accomplishes the freeing of the man from his inner violence. He has put an end to the darkness and the fear of God. From now on he will be able to hear the Good News of Jesus.
Quite a few persons live out false images of God in their heart, images that make them live without dignity and without truth. They feel God not as a kindly presence that invites them to live creatively, but as a threatening shadow that controls their existence. Jesus always begins to heal us by freeing us from an oppressive God.
His words awaken trust and make fear disappear. His parables attract toward God’s love, not toward a blind submission to the Law. His presence makes liberty grow, not slavery; he raises up love for life, not resentment. Jesus heals because he teaches us to live only out of goodness, forgiveness, and love that excludes no one. He heals because he frees us from the power of things, of self-deception, of egomania.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf