Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
(I Samuel 1:9-20; Mark 1:21-28)
Parents in Australia worry when their children finish secondary school. Graduation there is typically followed by a week with classmates at the beach. Un-chaperoned, the teens are likely to turn the rite of passage into a seven-day orgy. Some families offer their graduates a trip to Hong Kong if they forego the week-long partying. In today's gospel Jesus presents himself as the rescue of such people given to drink, drugs, and sex.
The passage speaks of "unclean spirits" which are normally considered devils possessing the innocent. However, it may be profitably read today as hedonists obsessed by lust and craving stupor. Jesus addresses this condition with authority. He is not concerned with how pitiful the situation appears but with the well-being of the people involved. He commands the spirits to leave the infected; that is, in a contemporary interpretation his care engenders a genuine love of self that moves hedonists out of self-abuse.
In a society that condones libertine sex and blinks at drunkenness we should see Jesus as a champion of spiritual integrity. His love for us suppresses bodily urges for illegitimate pleasure. He provides us with peace of mind and the tranquility of self-control.