They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “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!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
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.
“Have you come to destroy us?” We humans aren’t great with change. It is January, the season of New Year’s resolutions, so maybe you are feeling the challenge of changing a routine or outlook on life. I know I am. There is something jarring and upending about the idea of changing our ways of acting and being and I hear that reflected in today’s Gospel. The man possessed calls Jesus by name and asks if he is here to destroy us. As we see, Jesus calls out the evil spirit from the man.
What are our fears in fully committing our lives to Jesus? What parts of ourselves do we wish to stay the same? Where are the flickers of selfishness and pride in our day? With whom do we withhold our generosity? Let’s offer these to the Lord and let him upend and change us. For the better.
—Br. Matt Wooters, SJ, is a social worker at Nativity Jesuit Academy in Milwaukee, WI.
Take Lord, receive,
My selfishness, my ego and my pride
These aren’t my best self.
These keep me caged and fearful of others and of You.
Change my heart to be a bit more like Yours:
On fire with Love beyond all telling.
When I screw up today, help me try again.
Mostly, sweet Jesus, help me laugh at myself.
Because with a good sense of humor, a little pluck and with You
All things are possible.
—Br. Matt Wooters, SJ