Be Silent O Unclean Spirit
They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit...
January 29, 2021, Words By: Margartia Solis-Deal, Image By: Unknown
In the text today, Jesus encounters a man with an unclean spirit and speaks truth with authority and authenticity to him. And it triggers his whole being, shaking him to his core. I know this shaking in my own soul. Perhaps you do, too.
As I read through the text, I find myself wondering what Jesus was teaching that triggered this man’s spirit so deeply? And what kind of spirit “possessed” him in the first place: was he carrying his own sin, the unresolved sins of the community, or the sins of the synagogue where this story takes place? We don’t know the answer to either question.
But the text is clear about how Jesus taught—with authority and authenticity. I can’t help but hear the echoes of both in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Give Us the Ballot address in Washington D.C. in 1957. Reverend King spoke truth that day: “I’m talking about a type of love which will cause you to love the person who does the evil deed while hating the deed that the person does. We’ve got to love.” Such a message of unconditional, disruptive love provoked unclean spirits to shout, and it still does.
I also hear echoes of Jesus in Greta Thunberg when she addressed the U.N. at the Action Climate Summit in 2019, where she firmly stated, “We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.” This type of prophetic firmness can make people squirm.
The fact is, there may be a reason the text tells us the “how” but not the “what.” By leaving this space blank, Jesus gives all of us a chance to fill it in with whatever inner shadow we struggle with. Can you see it? We are the possessed man—both as individuals and as a community.
He understands the burdens this man carries and he doesn’t dismiss him. Instead, he speaks firmly, authentically and authoritatively into his life, freeing him from the lies of the violent and fearful spirits, and creating a space for him to become whole.
I have heard the truth about situations in my own life that caused me to react from a place of fear. “Nope, I am not going to believe it,” I would tell myself. “No, I like the way my life is just the way that it is and I am not going to change it.”
And I too have felt that firm divine voice speak to me saying, “will you just shut up,” or more politely, “be silent!” Would you just be silent enough to hear my truth? Would you be silent enough to trust me? Would you be silent enough to know my love for you is unconditional? In silence, the truth unfolds. Yes, I will be silent.