They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “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.”
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
Interestingly, part of me can empathize with the demon in today’s Gospel who asks of Jesus “have you come to destroy us?” There’s a small, fear-based part of me that has felt the same way. When I felt the first tug towards a call to religious life, at least part of my reaction involved this voice of despair. “Why me? Why this now? Do you want to ruin everything I’ve done?”
I’ve come to understand this loud and reactionary voice is always tied to some temporary aspect of my identity to which I am attached; to my false self. Through prayerful discernment I’ve come to realize this voice, though often loudest, is motivated by fear. In a way, the urgency of the voice makes sense. Jesus has come to destroy it and its false authority, as part of my personal growth and liberation.
Lord God, help us to listen to the small voice inviting us to grow in our relationship with you. As we discern the next right step in our lives, quiet the voice of fear that leads us away from you.
—The Jesuit Prayer team