Sunday 31 January 2021

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

Word for today
The Gospel of Mark 1:21-28


Jesus enters Capernaum and at once begins to teach. He does not waste a minute. The people have to know, they have to be enlightened in order to be able to learn to see, they have to be helped out of their ignorance. The people have to know the truth and they have to know it from the mouth of the person who, as no one else, has the authority to do it. Friends and foes alike immediately recognize that Jesus has the authority and capacity to teach. It is clear to everyone that Jesus teaches with a different  authority, he teaches and speaks with knowledge of causes and effects in a completely different way with respect to other teachers and doctors of the law. No one better than Jesus knows that one of the favorite daughters of stupidity, which has so greatly damaged humanity, is ignorance, the non-knowledge, the not knowing how things and life work.
Jesus begins at once to teach and uses the structures that he finds, he uses the churches, and the places where people meet liturgically: the synagogues. He uses what he finds, he uses the means at his disposition, he uses the possibilities to transmit and to communicate possible then and now. To give mankind new opportunities for life, the Lord of all things uses what he finds. To change the history of mankind, Jesus plunges into mankind's history just as it was, starting with everyday matters and commonplace, familiar customs.
Jesus is not the only one to know that to liberate mankind from slavery, fear, evil and suffering, people must first be liberated from ignorance. Jesus is not the only one who knows it. There is someone else who knows the truth, there is someone else who knows how it works, but it is in his best interest that humanity remains ignorant, unprepared, inexperienced. Satan and his demons know perfectly well how things function, how to keep people chained and powerless and emptied of their desire for liberation and salvation. Satan and his demons know perfectly well how to keep mankind used to inner starvation, to spiritual poverty, and fear as a normal, unchangeable state.  Contrary to everyone else in that synagogue, Satan knows perfectly and acutely what is happening on that sabbath in that synagogue in Capernaum.
He knows that that sabbath in that lost and forgotten place his tragedy is being consumed. Jesus has ripped the first thread. Jesus has cuts the first thread of the web that the Evil One has woven so carefully and with such perfection in thousands of years to enmesh mankind and making them into a pathetic meal for his jaws.
Jesus teaches. This is the beginning of the end for Satan, and only Satan knows and is aware of what is taking place when Jesus enters Capernaum and at once begins to teach. The scene is familiar for the Hebrew world, it is normal in every respect; now however teaching, as given by Jesus, is not to keep the people ignorant,  but to liberate them.
This is Jesus' revolution.
The people are amazed by his teaching; they recognize and understand that it is new and authoritative, they look around surprised, and whisper under their breath making exclamations; but Lucifer wastes not a moment. The battle has begun and he too uses the history of mankind and he uses what is there: a man with an unclean spirit, a possessed man who was present there. If  Jesus' presence there in the synagogue was a surprise for the people of the village, it was not for Satan and his demons. They were there, waiting, irritated, and angry.
What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? [literally: What goes to us and what to you Jesus of Nazareth] Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!
Satan asks: What is yours and what is ours in this synagogue, Jesus? Until now it was all ours but now that you are here you want your part of hearts and souls. What goes to us and what to you? What part will remain ours and what part of this synagogue and of the entire world will go to you? After thousands of years during which we have so carefully kept these children of God tied through ignorance, after all this time that we have kept them terrified and rendered them weak, uncertain and incapable of feeling and seeing, after all this work you and your Word have arrived. After thousands of years of easy work and effortless deception, now with your teaching, with your Word it will no longer be so easy to steal souls and hearts. Now if men and women want, if they listen and follow your voice, we will have to let them go, we will have to let them return to you and to your Father. This is our ruin and destruction.
You are here today in this lost, forgotten, and soon to be forgotten synagogue and no one besides you and us know what is happening. As always, the people are unable to understand and to grasp what is happening. But we know what has begun in Capernaum, what has begun at the sound of your voice.  You have not only broken the curious silence of those who are present but you have made a hole in the web, you have uncovered the deception, you have torn the threads and now all of our work has been taken apart. We demons will govern for centuries, that is no doubt about it, but the liberating process has begun: you know it, we know it; they do not know it but with time some will understand and it will be the end and our undoing. Jesus of Nazareth, have you come to destroy us, to ruin us and our work and all of our efforts? We will dedicate all of our energy to slacken the process of faith and of loving adhesion to you. People do not know it, but we know that you are the Holy One of God; of course we know. You are God, the God  we abandoned and betrayed; you are the God of love that we refuse to love or to see. We know, Jesus, that you are God and that you will take the children of God away from us.
People do not know it, but we do and we have arrived on time for our appointment here; we know what is beginning here in this room with walls encrusted with smoke and incense in the midst of these people who sense that someing is going on but do not understand what.
Here in this lost, forgotten village after thousands of years that we have been holding your children in a net you have come and are holding us in a net, and you are doing it by simply beginning to teach, to teach the truth. You know, Jesus, that once ignorance has been overcome, stupidity will walk away with a limp until it will be forced to stop walking completely. Your Word burns our web, it burns it from within. And now we know that you will ask us, or rather you will order us to get out of this man and even if we are powerful and enraged we can do nothing against you and we have no other choice but to obey.
Bur the terrible thing and devastates us completely is when you say to us: Quiet. You begin to to teach and we must be quiet. Now you reveal the Word of Life and we must cease to tell our lies and deceptions. Only you know how often we have deceived, lied, and duped with words, with mountains and rivers of words, prejudices, slanders, and defamations. Using the spoken or written word we have kept entire generations, peoples, and nations ignorant and now you order us: Quiet. You are ordering us - who have used words as the medium for lies and falsities, who have filled heads and hearts with endless, empty words - you are ordering us to be Quiet. And we must obey. And we are ruined. For the time that is left to us we will use all means at our disposition to massacre your Word, to betray it, to weaken it, to entangle it, to render it infantile, a fairy tale, a mythology for featherbrains. We will do all this, but we will not be able to do anything against  those who will choose to believe in you. We were waiting for you. Sooner or later it had to come about. And it is coming about today in this synagogue, now, Jesus, before we are quiet we will scream, shout, and mangle but we must obey.
Tormented and trembling, arrogant and frightened all at once we will let your son go forever. We will let him go on his way and unfortunately for us that way will be your way and from this day onward we will be forced to let a myriad of your children go.
Jesus begins to teach the truth. He knows why. They know why. And perhaps we too will understand a little at a time: the Word liberates from the stupidity of words.