Jesus is again on the shores of the sea of Galilee, now at Capernaum, a prosperous Jewish town (Mk 1:21-28). Here He teaches at the synagogues, it is the beginning of his public ministry, and the people are astonished at the authority by which he teaches. Not only does He explain the scriptures, but he drives out a demon from amongst them, and people are astonished. The demon exclaims I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said,“Quiet! Come out of him!” Jesus teachings in this region at first are greeted with applause, but ultimately he is rejected and I wonder why. This was after all people of a similar background and they can not come to accept the healing that they themselves witness. When the demon calls Jesus “the Holy one of God,” He rebukes that demon, “Be Quiet”.
That command “Be Quiet! is common throughout the gospel healings. When Jesus heals He does not wish to be proclaimed as the Son of God, instead he wishes people to grow in their knowledge of him. In this town Jesus is known. He is known to be Mary’s son, and the son of a carpenter. It is precisely these people’s knowledge that will ultimately stand in their way. For them to accept the authority by which he teaches is the greatest of challenges. He must go against the authority of the Scribes and the Pharisees, both political members of society. Jesus also challenges their demons, and not the demons of others. It is always easy to spot the flaws of others, but how easy is it to admit our own? It is easy to have authority over another, but how easy is it to give authority to another? They are amazed by Jesus teachings, but eventually they will grow fearful.
In the first reading (Dt 18:15-20) Moses talks of God razing up another prophet who will speak the word of God. Jesus not only speaks the word, but also heals and drives out demons. Jesus has authority that goes beyond those prophets. How easy is it to accept those words, when they go against my opinion or my tradition? How quick am I to rush to judgment rather than grow in the wisdom of God? I should remember to heed those words “Be Quiet.” I should listen rather than speak.
I read the gospel of Jesus teaching at the synagogue with knowledge of how the story continues. I wonder what the outcome would have been had that demon stayed quiet and those people listened and learned. Though the demon spoke the truth, it also ignited fear, and that fear hindered an ability to listen and learn and grow. God can speak, but it is up to me to listen. How wonderful it would be to remain astonished at the word of God, and not mute that sound through my own prejudices or frailties. How wondrous to hear that word without, without it being drowned out by the crowd. The gospel tells of the amazement of Jesus’s words, but it also tells of a demon lurking in the crowd. One would be wise then listen to the word, but also be vigilant to the demon lurking in the room.