The people of Jesus’ time believed that the world was full of demons or ‘unclean spirits’ that could harm them. Nowadays we have a different understanding of the world, based on science. The man who appears in today’s Gospel might well be diagnosed with epilepsy or some other condition. But we cannot doubt that evil forces exist in our world too. We sometimes talk about people struggling with the ‘demons’ of addiction or mental illness, which can destroy their lives.
When Jesus sets the man free from the unclean spirit that was tormenting him, the people see that the spirits are afraid of him and they recognise the authority that he holds. Jesus always used his authority for healing and teaching. He lifted the burdens that weighed people down and he brought them the Good News of God’s love and mercy.
Pope Francis has said that authority ‘does not consist in commanding and making oneself heard, but in being consistent, being a witness and for this reason, being companions on the way of the Lord.’ All authority is given by God and authority should always be used to heal and to teach, following the example of Jesus.