This coming Sunday at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, at our 9:30 A.M. Mass, Father will discuss Mark 1:21-28. First to notice is how the location of the Gospel reading is Capernaum. We have all heard of Yom Kippur. Kippur is Cypress. Capernaum was named because it had roofs made from the Cypress tree. One of the rules of Semitic writing is that Scripture has no unnecessary details. Mark calls out the name of the town, to remind us of Jesus’ call to Kippur, atonement. The people are astonished at Jesus’ teaching, about atonement.
The unclean spirit cries, “What is between us and you…?” The unclean spirits are the only individuals present who know who Jesus is, and the only ones who know what it is like to be so close to God. In Exodus 33:20 God says, “You cannot see My face, for man shall not see Me and live.” Genesis 32:31, “Jacob called the name of the place Peni El: ‘for I have seen God face to face, and my animate being/soul is rescued.” The word for rescued means first, Decayed, rotten.” The unclean spirits see themselves as the rot. Jesus calls them out. He calls them to rise from the rot of dispair, and to rise like the Phoenix from the Fire of Dante’s Infirno and into the hope of new life.
In Judges 13:33, the father of Samson tells us wife, “We will die. We have seen El.” The unclean spirits cry out/Isaac, “I know who you are…!” The unclean spirits have suffered. They see that God, in the person of Jesus Christ, stands before them. The rest of the people have not suffered. They are blind to this. What a sad commentary. These are the people in the synagogue, the people who go to the house of worship every Sabbath, and the unclean spirits know more about who stands before them than they do.
What of us in Reno Nevada? Matthew 25:31- 26:1 tells us, “As you do to the least of these my brothers, you do it to me. Matthew 26:1 begins the Passion, which we relive in the Eucharist. Genesis 1 tells us how God created all men in his image and in his likeness. Do we see the image and likeness of God in the homeless, the suffering, or the person on death row? Do we see the Physical Presence of Jesus and his Passion in the Eucharist? In the city of Capernaum, in the city of atonement, Jesus asks us, do we see Jesus in the Eucharist, or in our neighbor?
Deuteronomy 30:14 states, “The word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your hearts…” The word is not in our minds, but in our hearts. We need to see the homeless man, and all who suffer. Our hearts and not our minds will show us the image of God within them. If we look at the Eucharist with our minds, we see a wafer of bread. If we look with our hearts, we will see the Physical Presence of God. After two millennium of looking at the Eucharist, are we as smart as the people who were in the synagogue that day? As we as smart as the unclean spirits? We need to look, to learn, and to act. The world is watching.