God at the dawn of creation created and empowered man to conquer and subdue the earth. It is wonderful to note how man has embarked on this project. Man has delved into varied dimensions of life; he has not only conquered the sea, the land but even space. Nature is at his beck and call to collaborate with. When nature revolts, the force of man is nothing to contend with! When nature shows its real power through earthquake, tsunami, flood and other pandemics, man realizes how powerless he is. The elemental power of nature can easily destabilise our technology, disrupt the schedules and systems we create and throw everything into chaos. We often think that we are in control of the Universe, until certain forces of nature prove that we aren’t. The above gives us a glimpse of the condition of the man who came to Jesus in the Gospel reading.
We can only imagine what his life must have been like, to have had a demon in him, ruling his life, destroying everything he held dear. Maybe he tried to fight it off but couldn’t. Maybe he thought the next day would be different but it wouldn’t. The demon’s power was too great for him. It controlled him and his actions and made him powerless. No one even dared to come to his aid, for they knew that he was possessed by an evil force, which was not like a ritual impurity to be set free from. Again, the Synagogue is a place of prayer, reading of the Word of God and its exposition. There was no music; no singing and no ritual sacrifice as was the custom in the Temple that would have necessitated his cleansing. Therefore, he couldn’t have been cleansed in the Synagogue, besides such was prohibited on a Sabbath. However, he encountered the power of God at the breaking of the Word by Jesus himself, for what he needed was the grace and the power of God to be set free from the clutches of this demon. Jesus looked at him and addressed the demon saying, “Quiet! Come out of him.”
And he was set free. Jesus’ exorcism, indicates that the kingdom of Satan, which enslaved people since Adam’s sin, is now giving way to the kingdom of God. Consequently, the words of Moses in our first reading that, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren- him you shall heed….” was manifested among the people of God. God indeed does not fail to keep his covenant! There seems to be more forces and demons in this era than in the past. These forces of evil are outside of us and inside of us, sometimes with near-total control of our lives. Sometimes we think that if we just have the right ideas, read a little bit more and get more information, then we can somehow think ourselves into spiritual freedom, whereas what we really need is the power and grace of God which comes from total obedience to the Word of God.
The Psalmist puts it right thus: “let us bow and bend low. Let us kneel before the God who made us, for he is our God.” When we make the word of God part of us, we then have the grace and power to dispel the demon that confronts us. Some demons can take control of our whole being, torment our existence, and render us helpless. Bishop Fulton Sheen in Peace of Soul (p.109) calls the demons “the seven pall-bearers of the soul.” They are anger, pride, greed, sloth, gluttony, envy, and lust. When these powers engulf us, they render us useless, dehumanize, and make us beast unto our fellow humans and to our very selves. They rob us of the freedom, dignity and purpose which God has for us. However, when the Living Word of Jesus resides in us, like this man who was possessed by the demon, it dispels the powers of evil and renders them inactive. Jesus can do for us what He did for this man but he needs us to be available, disposed and accept the invitation He gives us daily.
The fact that Jesus cured the possessed man by words alone and without ritual or magical display heightens the supernatural character of the healing. The power of his Healing Word reinforced the authority of his teaching. He spoke, and the unclean spirit left the man. This authority with which He used to cure this man with unclean spirit is what He bestowed upon us in a threefold manner during our baptism- Prophetic authority, Kingly authority and Priestly authority. In this existential era, many people needs this freedom like this man but instead of using their threefold authority or asking Jesus for liberation, they resort to diabolic means, psychics, syncretism, idolatry, occult powers, and charms. “How can Satan cast out Satan” (Mark 3:23b)? “And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come” (Mark3:26). Running to Satan for liberation leads to doom. As Christians, we need to avoid ideologies and actions that will keep us in perpetual captivity and darkness and dedicate ourselves to God. As Jesus liberated the man that was possessed, He wants to free us from all the forces of evil both within and outside of us in order to restore to us our dignity and freedom as people of God. Thus, we have to arm ourselves with the power and authority of Jesus to be set free from all kinds of demons