Deut. 18:15–20 / Ps. 95:1–2, 6–9 / 1 Cor. 7:32–35 / Mk. 1:21–28
Last week, Jesus announced the kingdom of God is at hand. This week, in mighty words and deeds, he exercises his dominion — asserting royal authority over the ruler of this world, Satan (see John 12:31).
Notice that today’s events take place on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was to be an everlasting sign — both of God’s covenant love for his creation (see Exodus 20:8-11; 31:12-17) and his deliverance of his covenant people, Israel, from slavery (see Deuteronomy 6:12-15).
On this Sabbath, Jesus signals a new creation — that the Holy One has come to purify his people and deliver the world from evil. “With an unclean spirit” is biblical language for a man possessed by a demon, Satan being the prince of demons (see Mark 3:22).
And as God by his word “rebuked” the forces of chaos in creating the world (see Psalms 104:7; Job 26:10-12) and again rebuked the Red Sea so the Israelites could make their exodus (see Psalm 106:9), Mark uses the same word to describe Jesus rebuking the demons (see Mark 4:39; Zechariah 3:2).
Jesus is the prophet foretold by Moses in today’s First Reading (see Acts 3:22). Though he has authority over heaven and earth (see Daniel 7:14, 27; Revelation 12:10), he becomes one of our own kinsmen.
He comes to rebuke the forces of evil and chaos — not only in the world, but in our lives. He wants to make us holy in body and spirit, as Paul says in today’s Epistle (see Exodus 31:12).
In this liturgy, we hear his voice and “see” his works, as we sing in today’s Psalm. And as Moses tells us today, we should listen to him.