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Gospel for Sunday, January 31: Mark 1: 21-28

Mark 1: 21-28

21They went to Capernaum and, having entered the synagogue on a Saturday, Jesus began to teach. 22And they were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who has authority and not as the scribes. 23Then a man who was in the synagogue, possessed by an unclean spirit, began to shout: 24“What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? You have come to ruin us! I know who you are: the saint of God”.25And Jesus rebuked him: “Shut up! Get out of that man”.26And the unclean spirit, tearing him apart and crying out loudly, came out of him. 27Everyone was filled with fear, so much so that they asked each other: “What is this? A new doctrine taught with authority. He even commands unclean spirits and they obey him!”28His fame immediately spread everywhere around Galilee.

Mark 1: 21-28

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

This Gospel passage is the story of a typical day for Jesus (1,21-28). Jesus enters the city of Peter, Capernaum, on Lake Tiberias. Here he teaches with exousìa, that is, with authority: everyone understood how Jesus taught with authority, and not like the scribes.

Jesus immediately explains his power with an exorcism. Certainly the activity of an exorcist, that is, of casting out demons, is a historical activity in the life of Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark, which is a short Gospel, of only 16 chapters, 4 exorcisms are told. Jesus is accused in chapter. 3 of being in cahoots with Beelzebub, that is, with the prince of demons, and even a Jewish work, the Babylonian Talmud, therefore contrary to Jesus Christ, will say that Jesus was accused of magic for exorcism.

In the Jewish world contemporary with Jesus, it was believed that the devil was the origin of illness, death and sin. The devil tries to intimidate Jesus and proclaims: “I know who you are: you are the Son of God!”. It is said that in Mark the true theologians are the demons, that is, they are those who always reveal who Jesus is. The disciples, however, do not understand him, while the demons always intuit everything.

But Jesus “commanded him”:  the verb epitiman technically also means “to exorcise”. In pagan rituals there were magical rites, but never in the Gospel. There is the threat, the exorcist’s order and finally the reaction and effect on the possessed person.

The monotheistic tradition did not admit other presences before God: the same serpent of Genesis 3.1 was none other than the most cunning of the wild beasts made by the Lord. In the Gospels, unlike the surrounding mentality, there is an extreme sobriety about the devil: it is the way in which, according to the culture of the time, physical evil and illness are expressed.

The demons, however, are presented as intelligent beings, who tempt Jesus, who speak with him, who confess his divinity. But the great announcement of the Gospel is that Jesus came to bring the demons to ruin (Mk 1.24): he is “the strongest” (Lk 11.22) who comes to destroy their power, and this is a sign ” that the kingdom of God has come to you” (Lk 11,14-22).

The devil no longer scares us: this evil force is completely defeated, subjected to the Lordship of the Lord, in whose name he is hunted and defeated, and this ability will be given to the disciples, who observe the definitive fall of Satan (Lk 10, 18-19).

Jesus therefore comes to defeat evil, to free the world from the powers that enslave it, Jesus comes to heal our divisions, all of them, therefore our schizophrenia, our anxieties, our depressions. We must recapture this sense of Christ as healer today. Because it is useless for me to say: “Lord, you are my joy!”, and then I go out and am more sulky than the others. Or: “Lord, you are my hope!”, and then I am always pessimistic and color everything black. Or: “Lord, you are my peace!”, and then I fill myself with anxiolytics because I can’t move forward.

Holiness is putting what we believe into an experiential experience: then Christ will truly animate an endless celebration in the depths of our hearts.

Evil is an evil spirit, master spirit, spirit of self-affirmation, spirit of selfishness, spirit of domination, spirit of maximum profit. This spirit of domination and power is embodied, in the economic field, in exploitation and oppression; in the social field in the privilege of some classes, of some castes, in imperialism, in colonialism, in racism, in wars, in violence, in corruption; in the political field in the unbridled use of power; in the cultural one in ideologies; in the individual one in selfishness, in pride, in the concupiscence of the flesh. Whoever follows Christ is freed from these spirits of evil, because Jesus has defeated them once and for all.

Faced with these exorcisms of Jesus, people were amazed and amazed (vv. 27-28). He who wants to accept God must be amazed, have the ability to be amazed, and this is why Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is closed to the wise and powerful of this world, while instead it is reserved for children, the little ones (Mt 11, 25): because the child knows how to be enchanted, knows how to be amazed. We have lost the ability to wonder, we are all sad and grumpy: instead the Gospel tells us that we must get excited, every day look at the beautiful things that God continually does, discover the wonders that happen in history.

Even Scripture is not that boring book that we always get from priests on Sundays. It is a book to be read with surprise, in wonder and in prayer. If we know how to be amazed in the face of these things, if we know how to marvel, if we know how to rejoice, to be impressed by the great event that is Christ, then truly the Scripture, his powerful Word, becomes news of freedom for us.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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