September 3, 2019 – Tuesday of the 22ndWeek in OT
Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
A reading from the Gospel of Luke (4:31-37)
Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee.
He taught them on the sabbath,
and they were astonished at his teaching
because he spoke with authority.
In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon,
and he cried out in a loud voice,
“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!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!”
Then the demon threw the man down in front of them
and came out of him without doing him any harm.
They were all amazed and said to one another,
“What is there about his word?
For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits,
and they come out.”
And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.
How often in a day do we speak of blessing for others? Or how often does our speech bring life to others? Or perhaps there are more cursing and hatred, complains and bitterness in our words.
You know, the people in Capernaum were quite amazed at Jesus when we spoke and taught them. They were not amazed at his eloquence and fluency in the language but more astonished at his words that were spoken with authority.
Well, what does it really mean? When I was younger, those people whom I considered as authorities would always have a weight when they would speak. Yet, I was always afraid of these authorities because they were the same people who would give punishments. It means that I associated authorities before as mere givers of punishments. And it was not a good association of them because I was always terrified by them.
However, such concept of mine is totally different from what the people experienced with Jesus. Jesus spoke and taught them not like the Scribes and Pharisees who would always bragged about how good and righteous they were but burdening the people with many laws to observe and punishments of not following the law. He spoke to them not like the Roman authorities and soldiers who would demand that they should pay their taxes.
The words that Jesus spoke to them made them alive and free and not fearful and resentful. It means that the words of Jesus generates life and freedom, peace and reconciliation.
This has been portrayed concretely when Jesus encountered an evil spirit. The evil spirit that burdened the man, made him suffer and subjected him to bitterness and hate, was powerless before Jesus. The words and the presence of Jesus brought light into the life of that man. Jesus healed the man and broke the oppressive influence of the evil spirit.
These powerful words of Jesus came from his very person. Because Jesus’ intention was honest, his words were of kindness, and his actions generous, that encounter became life-giving and freeing.
Today, Jesus also calls us to find life and freedom in his words and presence in the scriptures and in this Eucharist. And hopefully, what we have found here will also be transmitted into our life that we ourselves will become life-giving and instruments of freedom.
It would be good then to examine our words and our encounters with people today. Let it be the object of our discernment today. Are my words and presence life-giving or condemning? Am I giving freedom or condemnations? Are my words filled with hatred and anger or peace and kindness?
Then, if we find that our words and presence express more of condemnation, and judgments, of hate and bitterness, allow Jesus to transform us. Allow Jesus to cast the evil spirit in us so that we too will become free and at peace. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR