Minute Homily: Don’t Be Like the Demon!

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

“In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; 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!’ Jesus rebuked him and said, ‘Quiet! Come out of him!’ The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.'”

Mk 1:23-27

This Sunday’s gospel tells of Jesus rebuking a demon, and it tells us something interesting about the nature of faith. It’s easy for us to mistake faith simply as acknowledging Christ as the Son of God, or obedience to Christ. But if we pay attention to the gospel, we see that the demon does both of those things. He tells Jesus, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” And when Jesus tells the demon to come out of the person, he obeys that command.

So if all we do is acknowledge Jesus as the Christ and obey his commands, really we’re not doing any better than that demon! What’s missing?

It’s love. The demon recognized and obeyed Christ, but he did not love him. And that’s essential. It’s not just about knowing and serving God. It’s about loving God. Love of God is the difference between knowing God as a subject you’ve studied and knowing God as a friend. It’s the difference between obeying God as an overlord, and obeying him as a Father.

In our psalm this Sunday (Ps 95) we pray that when we hear the voice of God, that our hearts not be hardened. Let us strive to always have soft hearts in our relationship to God, so that our knowledge of and obedience to him will always be motivated by love.