Homilette for Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

(Luke 4:31-37)

In the gospel yesterday Jesus says that the Spirit anointed him to let the oppressed go free. Today we see what this means. Before we examine the story let us make a few notes about demons. We see demons as tempters that nudge us to make bad choices. The demons of the gospels, however, affect people physically and mentally, not morally. True, Satan tries to allure Jesus into sin, but he is the devil, not a demon. Today we seldom speak of demons possessing people as physical or mental torture. Rather, we use other terms like “cancer” and “bipolar condition” to describe these states. Still, we should remember that Jesus came to terminate all conditions of oppression

The man possessed by the demon in the gospel is already in the synagogue where Jesus is teaching. Evidently, the words of rabbis and prayers of the people have not been able to help him. But Jesus teaches with authority; that is, he both knows what he is talking about and has the power to execute what he says. Jesus’ words provoke the demon to try to intimidate him. The demon cries out, “’I know who you are – the Holy One of God.’” But Jesus is more than capable of the challenge. He speaks up even more forcefully (exorcism is often a duel of words), “`Be quiet! Come out of him!’” The demon succumbs to Jesus’ power by dispossessing the oppressed man.

With medicine’s amazing success over disease people today have difficulty considering Christ’s healing power. Of course, we can think of Jesus as working through medical professionals. But he also is at work beyond the profession’s capability to bring us from sickness to wholeness. He may decide not to remove the physical or mental malady affecting us. Still, as physician of souls, he will always strengthen us to accept it knowing that its harmful effects will dissolve in eternal life.