January 31, 2021
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Readings for Today
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. Mark 1:25–26
This passage from Mark’s Gospel could be the scene from a horror movie. Well, at least if Hollywood were producing the film. In truth, it’s the scene of an act of great love and mercy and reveals the power and authority of Jesus!
It’s the story of a man with an unclean spirit, a demon. The demon is tormenting him. So, Jesus looks at the man with great love and compassion and expels the evil spirit, setting him free. This truly is an act of love.
But one question this clearly brings up is the role of the evil spirits in our world and their ability to control, manipulate or, at least, tempt us. They are powerful spiritual beings created by God with free will, and they exercised that free will to turn away from God. One of their primary duties, granted them at the moment of their creation, was to care for humanity. Those spirits who fell from grace by their pride and sin still retain their natural spiritual power. But because of their fall, they now only have hatred for mankind and seek to destroy us. This is real. And this is something we should be keenly aware of.
But there is no reason to lose hope or to give in to fear. These beings are, of course, ultimately subject to the power and authority of God. They can do nothing without God permitting it—and, in the end, they can have no power over our lives.
But for now, we need to be aware of their natural spiritual power and influence. We need to understand that they can and will try to wreak havoc in our lives. When we let fear weaken our faith, and lack trust in God’s almighty power, we slowly allow them to have more influence over us. But when we allow the grace and mercy of God to overshadow their evil influence, we hear Jesus rebuke them and order them to cease.
Reflect, today, upon the fact that the spiritual battle is a real one. However, the victory is assured if we only humble ourselves before God and trust in His power and authority. Humility is the key to this spiritual battle. It’s the key to overcoming the attacks and temptations of the evil one. So, humble yourself before God when you feel oppressed or tempted. Humble yourself by admitting your weaknesses. Acknowledge that only God has the authority to strengthen you. Put your trust in Him. He will not let you down!
Lord, I am weak and nothing without You. Help me to know and believe that. Help me to humble myself before You and to be strengthened in that humility to overcome the temptations and influences of the evil one. Jesus, I trust in You!
Saint of the Day – Saint John Bosco, Priest
Not celebrated as a liturgical memorial this year since it falls on Sunday