He went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! 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.”
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” When the demon had thrown him down before them, he came out of him without having done him any harm. They were all amazed and kept saying to one another, “What kind of utterance is this? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” And a report about him began to reach every place in the region.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” cries the demon inside the man in today’s gospel. I’m not sure I know what that demon is, but I know that voice and I know that phrase exactly. Unfreedom, it turns out, starts to feel familiar. My unfree habits, my well-worn ruts of egoism, pride, selfishness and many, many more get comfortable in time. Jesus’ invitation to a greater love, joy, freedom can start to feel, well, uncomfortable. I know exactly the voice that cries out “That’s okay,Jesus, this isn’t your thing! Just leave well enough alone.”
That’s the trick for me—knowing the difference between comfortable unfreedom and uncomfortable faith, hope, and love—the difference between putting Jesus off and learning to listen to Jesus tell that voice inside of me to “Be quiet!” Then I follow his voice to greater joy.
—Matthew Spotts, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic teaching history and religion at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, Indianapolis IN.
Give us your strength, Lord, because sometimes things get tough and we are ready to quit.
Give us your love, Lord, because sometimes people reject us and we are tempted to hate.
Give us your eyes, Lord, because sometimes life gets dark and we lose our way.
Give us your courage, Lord, because often we are put under pressure, and it’s hard to do what is right.
Give us yourself, Lord, because our hearts were made for you, and we will not rest until we rest in you.
—Mark Link, S.J.