That poor man is tormented by something. He is gripped by some force that has power over him. He has lost control. The evil within seems to want to drag him down a dangerous and unholy path.
The demon challenges Jesus but Jesus isn’t taken up by the demon. Jesus is concerned with the man who is possessed.
Jesus doesn’t judge. Jesus doesn’t condemn. Jesus doesn’t ignore. Jesus encounters the man. Jesus casts out the evil. Jesus heals the man. And the man’s life is forever changed.
This gives us hope, because there are things inside of us that are unholy. Grudges. Prejudices. Anger. Lust. Selfishness. Things that aren’t healthy. Things that aren’t life-giving.
We might be broken and hurting and in need of healing. We might be running from and avoiding our problems. We might be possessed by loneliness or fear or despair or depression or grief.
Jesus doesn’t judge. Jesus doesn’t condemn. Jesus doesn’t ignore. Jesus encounters me. Jesus encounters you.
And Jesus loves. Jesus has the power to cast out the evil that is within us.
Jesus wants nothing more than to reach out to you and to me and to remove whatever is sinful, to heal whatever is wounded.
The evil that controls the man has the power to lead the man down a terrible path. But Jesus has power over evil.
If we stay close to Jesus, if we stay in relationship with Jesus, then Jesus can protect us from all the evil lurking in the world. This is what we pray every time we say the “Our Father.” Deliver us from every evil.
When the man, possessed by the unclean spirit, encounters Jesus in the synagogue, he is healed.
We encounter Jesus in this Eucharist. We eat his body that was nailed to a cross for us. We drink his blood that was poured out for us.
When we encounter Jesus here in this holy place, we ask Jesus to heal us. We ask Jesus to cast out the demons within us. We ask Jesus to strengthen us. We ask Jesus to draw near to us and to love us.
Sometimes we are tantalized by the glamour of evil. But the demons only come to destroy. Jesus comes only to love, because love conquers all.