1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Peace be with you!
A few weeks before Christmas, Jerry and I moved into our new home that we built. We were both excited to finally have our own space after living with my mom for two years. As we began the never-ending process of unpacking, we had a lot of energy to set up our home the way we wanted it and to show it off to friends and family. However, the week after Christmas, I was emotionally done with the unpacking process. We just had too much stuff that I did not know where to put and throwing it into the basement was not an option since this is Florida we are talking about.
I snapped. I was exhausted from constantly directing people where to put things. I wished I could do the unpacking myself, but my Cerebral Palsy limits my ability to do so. Three people were asking me where to put things all at once. In my exhaustion, I started blowing people off. It felt like something moved into my body and made me do and say things I would never do or say otherwise. The stress of moving put me in a bad mood and made me do and say things that were not me.
Once the majority of the unpacking was done, the bad went out of my body, and I became me again. Thankfully after a few apologies, my friends came back and forgave me for my rude behavior, because they understood the stress I was under.
The Gospel reading today is a bit weird. Jesus performs an exorcism, which is something we, in the western hemisphere, only see in horror movies with priests chanting spells to release the evil spirits. To be honest, I avoid watching those movies, because 1) they give me nightmares, and 2) I cannot grasp the concept and reason behind exorcisms. When I read Mark 1:21-28, I am a little taken aback by Jesus commanding an unclean spirit out of a man’s body. What makes it more awkward is this exorcism begins Jesus’ ministry in the Gospel of Mark. Out of all the different kinds of miracles (healing, walking on water, raising the dead) the author of Mark chooses to document an exorcism first. Why?
The exorcism in today’s reading leads me to ask the question: “How are we possessed today?” It is a difficult question to answer, because as Christians we have to admit the Devil still has some power over us. We know that sin is a real force in the world that the Devil controls, but to admit the Devil has power over us is difficult for Christians to reconcile with our belief that God is all-powerful and has conquered sin, death, and the devil.
So then the question becomes “How does the Devil possess us today?” The first thing that comes to mind is when we do or say something out of anger, jealousy, foolish pride, etc. When we allow strong emotions to control our lives, we are allowing the Devil to have power over our lives. The week after Christmas, the Devil definitely had power over me as I took my frustration out on everyone around me. I was a real bear to my friends and family.
In Mark 1, when Jesus frees the man of the unclean spirit, he claims him for God’s purposes. Jesus continues to cast out unclean spirits through his crucifixion, death, and resurrection by which he redeems us for God the Father. Jesus restores our relationship with God and sends the Holy Spirit to possess us to do his work in the world.
Unclean spirits are cast out when we turn our minds and hearts to God the Father and seek forgiveness. Jesus reclaims us daily on the cross by giving us forgiveness in order to restore our relationship with God. Therefore, when we seek forgiveness and allow Jesus to reclaim us, Jesus cast out the demons in our lives.
When I asked for forgiveness from my friends, Jesus threw out the unclean spirit (the anger that caused me to lash out) from my body. He reclaimed me for God the Father who loves me in spite of my faults. We experience an exorcism when we are baptized and denounce the Devil. Although the Devil keeps trying to convince us otherwise, God has claimed us as his own and dwells within us.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for claiming us as your children. Help us to denounce the Devil, and deliver us from evil. Thank you for being in a relationship with us. Amen.
Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the comment covenant.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
1. How are we possessed by sin, the world, and the Devil today? What demons possess us today?
2. How does Jesus cast out unclean spirits in today’s world?
3. How does Jesus reclaim you as a Christian on a daily basis?