1 February 2015
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
Jesus confronts a man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue of Capernaum. When the unclean spirit came into contact with Jesus it felt threatened and asked: What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Upon reflection, one could say that the question was put forth logically. Indeed, what does Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the Holy One of the Lord, have to do with unclean spirits? There can be no association or link between unclean or evil spirits with the Christ, the Anointed One of God!
Yet the question put forth by the unclean spirit is one that comes to us spontaneously today as well, even though we may think that we are not possessed by an unclean spirit. Many of those searching for Christ, who are struggling to discover God and the true meaning of our existence, may ask the same question: What have you to do with me Jesus? What have you to do with my life, my work, my family, my free time? What do you Jesus, who we recognize as the Son of God, have to do with us poor sinners? Why do you even bother yourself with us?
The unclean spirit then continued with another question: Have you come to destroy us? When we approach Jesus we can ask ourselves, do we feel threatened or challenged? In our search for God and our desire to come to a deeper relationship with Him, do we somehow feel that he is destroying us or is he encouraging us and inspiring us?
Some might feel threatened by Jesus because their ways are evil and they prefer to continue living in sin. Jesus truly does come to destroy our coexistence with sin. He takes away our false sense of peace that we may have acquired over the years, but this is so that we may rid ourselves of bad habits and sins that have made us blind, selfish and distant from God. Some may feel threatened because of Jesus’ demands upon them, such as to love and forgive one another. They may not want to love and forgive others, but prefer to seek revenge and justify their sense of justice. Jesus is therefore a threat to their way of living, because he came into the world to destroy the forces of evil and sin that can easily enter into a person’s heart, making him unclean. This is where we can truly sense the power of Christ and of the gospels in our lives, when a desire for liberation from sin awakens within our hearts and we seek God’s grace in order to rid ourselves of our slavery to sin, in order to become free sons and daughters of God.
Interestingly, the unclean spirit makes a clear profession of faith: I know who you are – the Holy One of God! If the evil or unclean spirit is capable of recognizing in Jesus of Nazareth the Holy One of God, we can ask ourselves, why is it that so many people today, who are not possessed, still have difficulty in making the same profession of faith? The final question we can ask ourselves is ‘do I know Jesus and do I believe that he truly is the Holy One of God?’ If each of us can reply positively to this question then we can examine our lives better and ask ourselves are we truly living our lives according to the faith that we profess in Christ? Do we care about Jesus at all and his saving power?
We certainly do have reason to care about him because he is the one who has revealed to us and taught us God’s care for mankind. We should care about Jesus because he cared about us enough to die and rise from the dead so that we would be saved. He is the one who conquered evil through his free sacrifice given out of love towards each of us. He is the one who reveals our true selves and offers us new life.
There are plenty of reasons for caring about Jesus. If we have the courage and faith to confront this question: ‘What have I to do with you Jesus?’ then we can embark on a new and deeper experience of God’s love for us. This will lead us to a greater knowledge of Christ who came into the world not to destroy us, but to save us from our selfish inclinations and sinful ways, so that we can have new life in union with him that leads to eternity.