Astonished. When was the last time any of us were astonished at the words of Jesus? The awe of Jesus is very important. But I can easily miss it. After all, the story seems to focus on a demon and its desire to identify Jesus. This passage points to the Messianic secret used by Mark—demons and sinners identify Christ, but followers struggle to do so. I typically do some pondering and theological reflection on this secret, but rarely am I astonished.
Perhaps, however, we should focus more on the simple awe. We hear the same or similar gospel readings relatively frequently and they sometimes become just another regular feature in the day. The same can be said of our religious celebrations. We are just at the closing edge of Christmas and the Epiphany. I have to ask myself—did any of these shock or astound me? Did the radical love of Jesus, bursting into the world, surprise me in any way?
I can easily slip into the routines and habits of my faith. But it is very good for me to be surprised, wowed, and amazed by Jesus. The Jews in the synagogue experienced Jesus for the very first time. We have heard the Christ story for years and it is a major part of our society. How do we experience Jesus for the first time? How do we let Christ astonish us by his love and teaching?
Maybe take some time to reflect how Jesus has astonished you by his love through others and yourself. Or perhaps, try Ignatian Contemplation and enter the scene to find out what it was like to be a first-century Jew discovering Jesus for the first time.
—Ken Homan, S.J. is a Jesuit brother from the Wisconsin Province. He is currently studying history and theology at Fordham University, New York.