Reflections on Mark 1:21-28 part 2

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"if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you." (Luke 11:20)


The Holy One of God

The unclean spirit recognised the true identity of Jesus, ‘the Holy One of God’. The religious leaders of the time did not. Even those who witnessed the scene missed the point when they asked “what is this? The question should have been “who is this”. They focused on the miracle not the person and identity of Jesus. Do you recognise who Jesus really is? Who do you say that he is? Do you recognise his message only or do you accept his authority and rule? If you recognise the person and not only the message, then welcome to the Kingdom of God, where the Holy Spirit reigns supreme and the unclean spirit is cast out:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Romans 8:1, 2)
Is it at all surprising that his fame spread throughout Galilee? It has now reached the ends of the earth.

The man with the unclean spirit is also a symbol of wounded humanity in the grip of evil. Man has become a travesty of what he was meant to be. Here we have a classic example of God searching for man to restore him to his former dignity when man is unable to free himself from the grip of evil. Through a personal encounter with Jesus the mercy of the Father saves fallen humanity. This episode shows us that nobody is irremediably lost; no one is beyond the mercy of God.
“Have you come to destroy us”? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. He has come precisely for this, to overcome evil and the consequences of evil, oppression, sadness, despair, emptiness, death, anything and everything that deprives man of his divine dignity and identity made in the image of God.

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:22)

Christ is here among us and still saying “come out!” to every attitude and every thought, every action that tries to hinder God’s plan for fullness of life that he has for each one of us.  He says “no!” to every power that would imprison his people.  “Be silent!”, “Come out!” he orders every destructive spirit, both in the world and in the church, to everything that cannot stand before the “Holy one of God”.  Where the spirit of selfishness and self-centeredness rule, Christ says, “No!  Come out!”, the Kingdom of God is here. Where arrogance and power cause turmoil and pain, where anxiety and fear paralyze people the Word of God rings out:

Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
Christ Jesus is setting people free from all kinds of unclean spirits; in all things he is working for our good. But he has harsh words for those who hinder the liberating work of God:

‘But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them. (Matthew 23:13, 14)
The Kingdom of God is now calling man to come out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. The kingdom is where the king is, where the king rules: “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. How often have we said those words in prayer! Now we are called to enter into that Kingdom we have been praying for.

In face of the disintegration of nations, in face of political instability and social upheaval, in face of the disintegration of personal relationships, all of which belong to the kingdom of death and destruction, may our Christian communities be living examples of unity in the love of God rooted in the stability and solidarity of the all powerful and unchanging God. In a word may they be living examples of the Kingdom of God that has come amongst us and is now operative and actively engaged in the spiritual battle against the force of evil.

Robert Walsh

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