Exorcism. The casting out of unclean spirits is a dramatic but extreme aspect of faith. Very few of us would have experienced or even witnessed this. It evokes great fear because we will be frightened by the powerful forces at play even though we know and believe in the one authority that will prevail.
“’Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’”
Fortunately our everyday faith isn’t quite as dramatic. But this is not to say we do not deal with unclean spirits every day. None of us is perfect. Perfection comes from within. Within us we battle little demons that block our path to become a better person. Impatience, anger, un-forgiveness, bitterness, vengefulness are some fruits of the unclean spirits in us.
But the authority over them is also in us except that we need to cooperate with this authority; we need to desire to want to be better, to follow his teachings. This teaching is all about love. And the bigger little demons that stand in the way are selfishness, self-centredness and self-righteousness. When we put self above love, our actions will betray the teaching authority.
Imperfect as we are, with little demons in us, the beauty of this love is that we too are entrusted with the responsibility to teach. We have opportunities every day to cooperate with this authority. Words without action is hollow. Today we are better skilled at choosing the right words but they are more harmful if they camouflage the demon of self-centredness.
Jesus was sent to be among us. The first reading, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen.” It adds, “But the prophet who presumes to say in my name a thing I have not commanded him to say, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die”.
We too are sent to be “among yourselves”, in the midst of our families, friends, colleagues and people God has put in our life. We are sent as instruments of his teaching and to demonstrate the action required to add authority to his teaching. This authority, this powerful force that overcome the unclean spirits is Love. We carry this message to others and express it by demonstrating it through action.
We are sent to be prophets, to be little prophets amongst the people in our own little world. We battle the little demons in us to produce better fruits. When our actions are felt and experienced, it gives authority to our teaching. We cannot underestimate the dramatic and remarkable consequence of how ours and another person’s life can changed through the power of love. We as little prophets, no doubt with little demons, are instruments of this.
We too can leave a deep impression on the life of others. “And his teaching left a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught with authority”.
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time