We pray with the awareness of all the tempting voices around us which seem to have attractive power. The voices from within and from outside us can seem to be grace-filled and godly. We pray for a greater sense of what is from and of God and what is truly false.
The people following Moses, who are about to enter a new land for them, do not want any more horrible experiences of God. They have heard God’s terrible voice and been shaken by experiences of God’s fire. They have put in a request for a kinder and gentler God. Moses encourages his hearers in today’s First Reading. The prophet who will mediate between humankind and God will be like Moses himself, taken from their very own company. This prophet will have the words of God for the betterment of the people.
The land into which Israel is soon to move is populated by a people who have their own prophets or soothsayers. This prophet will have the authority or power coming directly from God. The people will have to learn what God sounds like through this prophet’s words and not listen to alien voices. If this prophet misuses God’s power or his position, that prophet will die. If this prophet speaks concerning some future event and it does not take place, that prophet has been speaking in his own name and the lack of fulfillment is the proof.
We are going to be watching Jesus as prophet during these next weeks of our walking through Mark’s account of the life of Jesus. His curings and accompanying teachings will be the proof that He is the awaited-for Messiah. This “authority” with which He speaks is not bravado or simple self-confidence. Mark presents Jesus as a prophet Who speaks the Word of God and His actions testify to His authority.
This powerful healing is the “in sighting Incident” as is said in the theory of drama. It forms the frame for a more important revelation. Healing physical ailments is secondary to interior healing.
In our Gospel today, a person is suffering from an unclean spirit.This particular story is set up so that we see the “authority” of Jesus extends first of all over the Evil One. Jesus has come to establish a new kingdom, not dominated by evil, but by God’s merciful love. The Evil One cries out that this spirit knows who Jesus is. Jesus quiets the spirit, because Jesus does not want the Evil One to proclaim the Messianic identity of Jesus. This announcing is to be carried out by the witnesses of His authority over evil.
The last line of the Gospel is about how Jesus’ fame began to spread, because of His teachings, but even more, the proofs that even the unclean spirits obey Him. The good news spread that the words of Moses were being fulfilled. A Moses-like leader from within the Israelite community was making the rounds. The Gospel then, like gossip was beginning to be proclaimed. Physical wellness was meant to be a sign of God’s blessing. Jesus uses this healing as kind of a medium and media.
The medium is the healing from various forms of illness and so He is seen as the man of blessings. This continues the process of how love needs to adapt to the convenient and comfortable medium of the beloved. Physical wellness, being the sign of God’s love for a person, becomes the preferred way by humans of seeing God’s love. The fertility and abundance of the fields and the fertility of wives and husbands to have children were other medium-platforms which God was using with Israel.
The media, as it is today, builds upon an event and then spreads the news around to share what has happened. The “gooder” an event is, the more it will want to spread. Those attending the events of Jesus’ ministry spoke about it and about Him. Jesus was a kind of media celebrity, but He relied on the witnesses to extend the good news, or Gospel, beginning in Galilee.
What is going on here during these first weeks of Ordinary Time is the simple presentation of Jesus doing something good and significant according to the minds and expectations of what exactly the Messiah or “prophet” is to do. We in our turns are to interpret how God is lovingly adapting to how we personally need a Messiah, Savior, Healer, or what ever our needs call for. The healing of Jesus is way deeper than simple physical wellness. We are invited to sense ourselves and our spirits and check to see if we have been freed from self-spirits. “Unclean” has many meanings. There are events and persons whom God uses as mediums for our being cleared of our “dirtiness”. When we experience this ego-exiting, which like the unclean spirit of the Gospel will shriek and convulse us, we will more freely spread the fame of the Name.
It is true that physical healing is more popularly attractive and celebrated. There is a great deal of attention and money spent on bodily wellness. As we walk along with Jesus these weeks we will find that God is spending spiritual funds and much attention on our inner wellness. This driving out of the unclean spirit is the first healing miracle by Jesus as presented by Mark. This healing becomes the real meaning of all the other healing miracles. This new “prophet” is extending the meaning of blessing. Inner spirit-wellness is now the definite orientation and redemptive mission of Jesus. When we allow Jesus in more, we will more let Him out.
“Let your face shine on your servant, and save me by your love. Lord, keep me from shame, for I have called to you.” Ps. 31, 17-18
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