The first spin doctor in salvation history was the serpent, later identified as the Devil, in the Garden of Eden, and in today’s Gospel we see one of his buddies also trying to put some negative spin on Our Lord’s mission by sowing confusion about Our Lord and his mission. Jesus’ listeners are impressed by how authoritatively Our Lord speaks; he does not couch his expressions in disclaimers and qualifiers as the scribes often did, nor tries to put a spin on them. Things seem to be going well when the demon uses its possessed prey to make some noise.
Why does Our Lord silence it before casting it out of the possessed man? Not just because it is making a racket, but probably also because it is trying to identify who Jesus is at an importune moment–it is trying to ruin the surprise Our Lord wants to reveal in his time. Referring to Jesus as the “the Holy One of God” could be interpreted as being the Messiah or even God the Son, and the people were not ready for either of those revelations: there were many expectations about the Messiah that Our Lord had to address, and often correct, throughout his earthly mission, and in today’s Gospel he is barely starting. If the people in that moment realized that God the Son was standing before them, they would have become overwhelmed by fear. However, to be fair, it’s not clear whether the demon recognized Jesus to be anything more than the Messiah in that moment. In any case, the demon does not manage to frustrate Our Lord’s plans (as if it could), and casting it out becomes another sign testifying to the authority and power of Jesus.
There are many things in life that try to frustrate a deeper knowledge of and love for Our Lord in our lives. Let’s examine ourselves today by asking ourselves the question Our Lord once addressed to Peter and the disciples (see Matthew 16:15): “who do you say that I am?”
Readings: 1 Thessalonians 5:1–6, 9–11; Psalm 27:1, 4, 13–14; Luke 4:31–37.