Then they came to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; 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!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Even the unclean spirits obey him
There is a saying that if one believes in God, one must also believe in the existence of the devil. And many movies on exorcism realistically present how powerful the Enemy is. Two are particularly worth experiencing: The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose. The Exorcist is a 1973 American horror film adapted by William Blatty from his novel and directed by William Friedkin. It tells the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and her mother’s attempt to rescue her through an exorcism conducted by two priests. On the other hand, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a 2005 American horror film directed by Scott Derrickson, following a self-proclaimed agnostic lawyer who acts as a defense counsel of a parish priest accused of negligent homicide after he performed an exorcism. A recent feature on exorcism is a documentary film The Devil and Father Amorth, directed by William Friedkin, showing the ninth exorcism of an Italian woman by Fr. Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican chief exorcist who passed away not long ago. Fr. Amorth happened to be a member of the Society of St. Paul, the publisher of this Liturgical Biblcal Diary. Being a spiritual being, the devil or unclean spirit is too much for a human being who relies only on his own power. The exorcist must rely on the power of Jesus Christ who, in today’s Gospel, orders the devil (or the company of demons by their use of the plural) to come out of the possessed man. Such is the authority of Jesus that the unclean spirits quickly obey him. This power and the authority of his teaching are unmistakable signs that in Jesus the Kingdom of God has come among his people. If exorcists are to order the devil, they must invoke this power of Jesus. In The Exorcist, Fr. Merrin commands the devil Pazuzu to get out of the possessed girl, “The power of Christ compels you.” He uses other spiritual aids like the cross, holy water, the prayer of exorcism. The battle with the devil was hard fought, but Pazuzu was finally driven out and the girl saved. The devil continues to search for and destroy its victims. Peter warns the Christians, “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith” (1 Pt 5:8-9).
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2021,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.