The Transitory Nature of this Life
In last week’s Gospel from Mark, we heard the call of the first disciples, and today those new disciples were with Jesus on the Sabbath as he entered the synagogue and taught. While Mark does not record what Jesus taught at this particular time, he does tell us the reaction to it: The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
This moment is followed by Jesus’ expulsion of an unclean spirit from a man, and Jesus’ interaction with the demon is telling. Jesus recognizes the demon as the very antithesis of the kingdom of God and the demon recognizes Jesus as the Holy One of God. While the demon taunts Jesus, Jesus silences the demon in response and orders him to come out of the man. Once more, the people are affected: they are amazed and question one another as to what is happening.
Writing for a community suffering under the oppressive regime and power of imperial Rome, Mark encourages his listeners by reminding them of Jesus’ power and promises. 2000 years later, we too are challenged by our own demons, personal and communal. We desire words of encouragement and a reminder that Jesus is the Holy One who liberates us and cares for us with true compassion. Today’s Gospel serves as our reminder of this, only the power of Christ’s love can set us free.
In Matthew Kelly’s book “Perfectly Yourself” pg. 34-39, he talks about Our Desire to Please, and how this can be good and lead us into God’s Kingdom, or it can be bad and lead us into unhealthy situations. Much like what must have led to this man being demon possessed. The key is what lies behind our motives? Often we can simply look at our emotions to discern what path we should follow.
Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians today can be of help in this as well when he says, Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties. Most, if not all of us, would agree with him! Writing for a community that expected the Second Coming to happen imminently, Paul is communicating a message of hope. He is telling them the circumstances and conditions of earthly existence (being married or unmarried in this case) are important, but they are of less significance than the new life we are all called to in Christ.
In other words, he reinforces for them – and therefore for us – the transitory nature of this life. As such, our state in life should be of less concern than our state in the kingdom. Wherever we find ourselves, we are to answer God’s call and follow the Lord without distraction.
Paul’s message of hope, along with Mark’s encouraging message of Jesus’ power and promises, are a reminder the Holy One of God has liberated us from death and sin – the difficulties and trials of this life are, in the end, overcome. We have certainty that with faith in the risen Lord, we are destined for an eternity with him. In this life a certainty that our God is always with us, for we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.