Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 1 COR 2:10B-16
The Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.
Among men, who knows what pertains to the man
except his spirit that is within?
Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God.
We have not received the spirit of the world
but the Spirit who is from God,
so that we may understand the things freely given us by God.
And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom,
but with words taught by the Spirit,
describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.Now the natural man does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God,
for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it,
because it is judged spiritually.
The one who is spiritual, however, can judge everything
but is not subject to judgment by anyone.For “who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?”
But we have the mind of Christ.
Responsorial Psalm PS 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13AB, 13CD-14
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is just in all his ways.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. The Lord is just in all his ways.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. The Lord is just in all his ways.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. The Lord is just in all his ways.
Alleluia LK 7:16
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited his people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus Heals The Possessed Man in the Synagogue at Capernaum — By James Tissot
Gospel LK 4:31-37
Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee.
He taught them on the sabbath,
and they were astonished at his teaching
because he spoke with authority.
In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon,
and he cried out in a loud voice,
“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!”
Then the demon threw the man down in front of them
and came out of him without doing him any harm.
They were all amazed and said to one another,
“What is there about his word?
For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits,
and they come out.”
And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.
Commentary on Luke 4:31-37 from Living Space
Immediately after his mixed reception in Nazareth, Jesus moves on to Capernaum, a town on the north shore of Galilee, which was to be the base from which Jesus did much of his missionary work. As in Nazareth, he taught the people in the synagogue on the sabbath. Unlike in Nazareth, “his teaching made a deep impression” on the people because he spoke “with authority”. He did not quote other authorities, like the teachers of the law, because his authority was directly from God, it was his own.
At the same time, it was not the authority of domination. It was the authority of someone who has access to special knowledge, the authority of someone who speaks in his own name and not just on behalf of others, the authority of one who empowers others and makes them grow. (‘Authority’ comes from the Latin auctoritas, which in turn comes from the verb augere, to increase or augment).
And Jesus’ authority is not only in word and teaching. Right there in the synagogue as he speaks is a man possessed by an “unclean spirit”. The spirit speaks through the man. It speaks in fear of the power of Jesus. “Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” This title seems to indicate that the spirit recognises Jesus’ divine origin but not his Messiahship. There was a belief in those times that knowing the exact name of one’s opponent gave one power over him.
Jesus ordered the evil spirit of the man who was thrown to the ground but not hurt. The people are amazed. Exorcism was not new to them but they had never seen it done with such speed and effectiveness. They are astounded again at the power and authority of Jesus. They realise they are in the presence of someone very special, in fact, the “Holy One of God”.
Each one of us is given authority of some kind – as a parent, a teacher, our job responsibility… Let us make sure that we use it in such a way as to enhance the abilities of others rather than diminish them.
• Luke 4, 31: The change of Jesus toward Capernaum: “Jesus descends to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and on Saturday he taught the people”. Matthew says that Jesus went to live in Capernaum (Mt 4, 13). He changed his residence. Capernaum was a small city on the crossroad between two important streets: the one coming from Asia Minor and was leading to Petra on the south of Transjordan, and the other one coming from the region of the two rivers: the Tigris and the Euphrates, and descended toward Egypt. The change toward Capernaum facilitated the contact with the people and the diffusion of the Good News.
• Luke 4, 32: Admiration of the people at the teaching of Jesus. The first thing that people perceive is that Jesus teaches in a different way. It is not so much the content that strikes them, but rather his way of teaching: “Jesus speaks with authority”. Mark adds that because of his different way of teaching; Jesus created a critical conscience among the people in regard to the religious authority of his time. The people perceived and compared: “He teaches with authority, unlike the Scribes” (Mk 1, 22.27). The Scribes taught quoting authority. Jesus does not quote any authority; rather he speaks starting from his experience of God and of his life.
• Luke 4, 33-35: Jesus fights against the power of evil. The first miracle is the expulsion of the devil. The power of evil took possession of persons, alienating them. Jesus restores the persons to be themselves again, giving them back the consciousness and liberty. He does this thanks to the force of his word: “Be quiet! Come out of him!” And on another occasion he says: “But if it is through the finger of God that I drive devils out, then the Kingdom of God has indeed caught you unawares” (Lk 11, 20). Today, also, many people live alienated from themselves, subjugated by the means of communication, by the propaganda of the government and of business. They live slaves of consumerism, oppressed by debts and threatened by creditors. People think that they do not live well if they do not have everything which the propaganda announces. It is not easy to expel this power which today, alienates many people, and return the persons to be themselves again.
• Luke 4, 36-37: The reaction of the people: he gives orders to the unclean spirits. Jesus not only has a diverse way of teaching the things of God, but another aspect which causes admiration in the people is his power over unclean spirits: “What is it in his words? He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out”. Jesus opens a new path so that the people can place themselves before God to pray and to receive the blessings promised to Abraham. Before, they had to purify themselves. There were many laws and norms which made the life of the people difficult and marginalized many persons who were considered impure. But now, purified by faith in Jesus, persons could once again place themselves before God and pray to him, without the need to have recourse to the complicated norms of purity which were frequently expensive.
• Jesus drives out the power of evil and restores the persons to be themselves again. Today many persons live alienated from everything and from all. How can we help them to recover and be themselves again?
slow to anger, full of faithful love.
Yahweh is generous to all,
his tenderness embraces all his creatures. (Ps 145,8-9)
“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
—Mark 1:21-28, NIV
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1CORINTHIANS 2:10-16; LUKE 4:31-37]
In the gospel, we are told twice how the people reacted to the teaching of Jesus and His works. With regard to His teaching, it “made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.” Indeed, the authority of our Lord was different from that of the other rabbis and teachers. Whereas they all referred to other authorities, namely God and Moses, Jesus preached in His own name and in His own authority. He did not have to preface His words, with “thus says the Lord”, like the prophets and the teachers of the day. He spoke from His own conviction and in His own person and in His own authority.
Not only did He teach with authority, but He also acted with authority and power. Whether it is with respect to man or even the evil spirits, Jesus could command with authority. When “the spirit of an unclean devil … shouted at the top of its voice, ‘Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the devil throwing the man down in front of everyone, went out of him without hurting him at all.” Just with a command, the evil spirit left the possessed man. In contrast, the exorcists of His days had to recite long incantations and even used other objects and herbs to drive out the evil spirits. Jesus did not need to say long prayers but simply at His word, the evil spirits obeyed immediately.
What gave Jesus that absolute authority that commanded respect and obedience? Jesus was fully aware of His own identity. Hence, when the devil said, “I know who you are: the Holy One of God”, He told him to be quiet. He did not need the devil to announce His identity. He did not need the devil to affirm His identity. He knew who He was. Furthermore, in letting the people know His identity, they might mistake His messiahship as a political one. Jesus knew the devil’s tactic to derail His plans. As the Son of God, He was conscious that He was not acting by Himself but in union with the Father. He was aware that He had the Father’s backing and support in what He was doing. Everything He did was in according with the Father’s will and His plan for us.
Secondly, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit. After His baptism, the Holy Spirit led Him into the desert. He began His ministry in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was not only acting by Himself but always in the power of the Holy Spirit. It was the Spirit at work in His ministry, empowering Him to heal, to teach authoritatively and giving Him discernment and understanding that the human mind cannot understand or perceive. It was His docility to be led by the Spirit that enabled Jesus to do what He did. Hence, we read that “astonishment seized them and they were all saying to one another, ‘What teaching! He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out.’ And reports of him went all through the surrounding countryside.”
In contrast, many of us, even as leaders, act without personal authority. The only authority we have is human authority. This is the authority that comes from our academic studies. Just because we hold an academic degree on a certain subject, people will listen to us and respect what we say because we are supposedly experts in that subject matter. But then many might disagree with us as well in our findings and analysis. Intellectual knowledge and scholarship are not sufficient to command full authority from our listeners, especially when there are so many diverse opinions on every issue. It is a matter of reliability but there is no guarantee of truth.
When academic authority fails, some exercise juridical authority that comes from the Office. We use force and power to make them submit to our authority. Using the power that comes from the office means to use the force of the law. If you break the laws, you would be penalized accordingly. So our subordinates and those under our charge obey us more out of fear of punishment than conviction or even understanding. We cannot change the hearts of men through fear and punishment. We only make them hostile towards authority. They will await their chance to usurp our authority one day so that they can change the rules.
Finally, when that fails, many of us will use authority that comes from our connection with influential or powerful people. We use them or name drop to get things done. Indeed, we would quote this and that famous person to make our point because no one will respect us for our own opinions. This was what the prophets and many teachers did. When they taught, they would quote some established teachers and leaders to back up what they were saying. Some of us may even use money and rewards to get others to collaborate with us. By so doing we enter into that slippery path of corruption, cronyism and become obligated to them.
As a consequence, we destroy ourselves and lose our credibility as leaders. St Paul makes it clear what an unspiritual man is. “An unspiritual person is one who does not accept anything of the Spirit of God: he sees it all as nonsense; it is beyond his understanding because it can only be understood by means of the Spirit.” Those who are unspiritual cannot understand or see beyond the superficiality of life for the eternal values. They cannot understand why living a life of love and giving is better than simply acquiring things and wealth and power. They are not able to appreciate why spending time with God in contemplation brings more joy and happiness than indulging oneself in the things of the world, like getting drunk, fighting, arguing and living in debauchery. They cannot understand why sex alone cannot bring happiness without love.
Whereas a spiritual man understands what really matters in life. He distinguishes the means from the end. “A spiritual man, on the other hand, is able to judge the value of everything, and his own value is not to be judged by other men. As scripture says: Who can know the mind of the Lord, so who can teach him? But we are those who have the mind of Christ.” When we have the mind and the spirit of Christ, we will look at everything through the eyes of Christ. This is what St Paul wrote elsewhere too, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col 3:2f) “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:2)
Thus, we need to ask for the Spirit of God to enlighten and guide us. Only the Spirit of God can lead us to understand life the way God sees. “The Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God. After all, the depths of a man, and in the same way the depths of God can only be known by the Spirit of God.” Human understanding of the world will not bring us very far. Science can help us in technology and knowledge of the world. But science does not deal with the matters of the heart which is love and truth. Science of course, when seen with faith, can help us to encounter God. “Now instead of the spirit of the world, we have received the Spirit that comes from God, to teach us to understand the gifts that he has given us. Therefore we teach, not in the way in which philosophy is taught, but in the way that the Spirit teaches us: we teach spiritual things spiritually.”
Thus, today, if we are serious in acquiring the Spirit of God in our lives so that we can discern and judge wisely, then we need to pray. There is no other way to be filled with the Spirit of God except through prayer and contemplation of the Word of God. He speaks to us through the Word and He fills us with His Spirit in prayer and through worship, especially through the means of the sacraments. Only when we are imbued with His Spirit, can we then speak with conviction and act with courage and authority.
Written by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore.
Tags: 1 cor 2:10b-16, August 30 2016, He speaks to us through the Word and He fills us with His Spirit in prayer and through worship, I know who you are–the Holy One of God!, In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, James Tissot, Jesus Heals The Possessed Man in the Synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus moves on to Capernaum, Jesus rebuked him and said “Be quiet! Come out of him!”, Jesus went down to Capernaum a town of Galilee, Lk 4:31-37, Lk 7:16, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God, Prayer and Meditation, Psalm 145, Spirit of God, We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, What have you to do with us Jesus of Nazareth?, What is there about his word?, with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, With regard to His teaching it “made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.”