Reflection By Fr Ajin Albarnas

First Reading Deuteronomy 18:15-20

Second Reading 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Gospel Mark 1:21-28








He is an image of what the lives of those in the synagogue look like. His uncleanness is not about personal hygiene, immorality or being bad. Instead, his presence “in their synagogue” describes the disease of their soul, their fragmented lives, and the many voices within them.

“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” He senses the distance between his life and Jesus’. It’s not, however, just about him. He speaks not only for himself but for all those in the synagogue that day. He represents everyone who has ever experienced the brokenness of life. He is the spokesperson for all who feel disconnected from themselves, others, or God.

We’re not so different. We too know the separation and brokenness of our own lives. We’ve lived in isolation. We have been trapped in grief. We have carried the burden of guilt. The truth of those situations often reveals itself in the many personas we wear.

We use our personas as masks to hide the truth of what our life is like and who we are. It seems that those masks most often arise from the many voices that live within us. They are the voices of condemnation and guilt, grief, fear, anger, and judgment. They are voices that keep us in constant comparison and competition with others. They are voices demanding perfectionism, asking, “What have you done for me today?” The voices are never satisfied. Every one of those is a false voice, the voice of the unclean spirit that separates us from our authentic self, from all that we love, and all who love us.

One of the parishioners recently asked me, “Why do I care so much about what other people say and think about me?” -I thought about false voices, an unclean spirit, separation, and a longing for acceptance and approval. All of those are contained in her question. She could just as well have said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus of Nazareth?” She could be the man in today’s gospel. But then so could you. So, could I.

We’re such funny people. Deep down we long for intimacy and authenticity but the last thing we want is to be found out, to have someone see us for who we truly are and who we are not. So, we put on a good front hoping that will gain us approval, acceptance and love.

We say the right things, act the right way, dress and behave the right way, even believe the right way, and all the while we are creating ourselves in the image and likeness of the unclean spirit. The irony is that those fronts we put up, those personas, keep us from having the very things we think they will gain us; things like intimacy, love, acceptance, healing, forgiveness, and authenticity. The personas offer no possibility for life to flourish and be abundant. Still, we hold on to those false voices, voices that collectively ask, “Have you come to destroy us?”

That is exactly what Jesus has come for. He has come to destroy. His silences our false voices.  He casts out all our personas and makes us people with a clean spirit. He has everything to do with us. He stands before us as the mirror image of who we can become. He calls us into our true self, the one made in the image and likeness of God.

The true voice and the true image are always present. That’s why the man with an unclean spirit can cry out, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” His recognition of Jesus is at a profound level a recognition of himself and his own holiness. For every voice that denies that and leaves us crying, “What have you do to with us?” Jesus says, “Shhh. Be quiet. That’s not who you are. You are mine and I have everything to do with you.” Listen to that voice and it can begin to put our life back together.