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Epiphany 4B
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Gospel: Mark 1: 21-28
Casting Out Our "Unclean Spirits"

Highlighted Verses: Mark 1: 21-28

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

Have you ever done something you shouldn't have?

I know that I have. Sometimes I'm grumpy - or selfish. Sometimes I say things that aren't so kind. Those aren't things I'm proud of, but I must admit I make those mistakes sometimes.

In this week's Gospel story, Jesus meets a man who has an "unclean spirit." The story describes it almost as if there was a ghost that had taken over the man's body and was making him act in ways that he shouldn't have. So Jesus tells the spirit to be quiet and get out of the man's body - and guess what? It does! It comes right out of his body.

The people watching were all amazed that Jesus was able to do this - that even spirits did what he asked! This is one of the ways that Mark tells us that Jesus' fame began to spread.

I've never had a ghost take over my body - but do you know what? Maybe that's not really what Mark was trying to help us to understand?

You see, the word "spirit" can mean a ghost, like in his story - but it can also describe our attitudes - or the ways that we think.

And so the more I thought about it, I realized that Jesus helps me to remove unclean spirits too, just like the man in the story.  And he can help you.

When I'm feeling grumpy, or selfish - or I'm tempted to do or say something unkind - I try to think about what Jesus would do. And when I do, I almost always manage to change my way of thinking. I leave the wrong - or unclean - thoughts behind and trade them for better ones. 

Will you try to do the same this week when you're faced with a challenge?

Let's pray.

Dear God,

Thank you for casting out our unclean spirits and helping us to lead good and faithful lives. 


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