15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B - 15th July, 2012
From time to time in the gospels we come across references to unclean spirits. We can read how Jesus had no hesitation in casting them out and curing those who had been afflicted. The idea of spirits was very common in the ancient world. Today, there are generally two contrasting attitudes to this phenomenon.
1- There are those who believe in the presence of spirits and in their capacity to do us harm. We need only look at the diffusion of amulets, crystals, angel shops, and a host of other things which people turn to with the hope of receiving assitance in their daily lives. The attitude of the gospels to these things, however, is unequivocal - Jesus is greater than any of these things, wheter spirits or so-called remedies.
2- There are also those who tell us that when the gospels were speaking of spirits they were actually using this term to refer to different types of illness, especially mental illness. However convenient this explanation may be, the basic message of the gospels is clear. There are things in this world that cannot be understood simply by adopting an analytical approach to them.
The truth is probably to be found between these extremes and yet, we are all aware of certain things in our lives that we could certainly refer to as unclean spirits. Guilt, shame, anxiety, depression etc. are all things that create in making our own spirit unclean. They make it difficult to see the Lord; the make it difficult to see others; they make it difficult to see ourselves.
In the face of suffering Jesus, we are told many times, was moved to compassion; he reached out to heal. I think that this Sunday's passage from the gospel is an invitation to us to allow Jesus in to our lives to heal us; to hand over to him all that makes our spirit unclean; to ask him to remove from our eyes all that impedes us seeing as we could and as we ought.
Arguments about spirits will continue, of that I have no doubt. They are not, however, of any lasting significance in the context of the gospels. The overwhelming message of the gospels is that God is in charge; Jesus is the only one to look to; discipleship is the only option.
As we face into a new week with all the challenges, successes and heartaches that it may bring why not make our own the prayer of the first Christians who said MARANATHA (Come Lord)?
Article posted on 13th of July 2012Click here for a printable version of this page