"I know who you are : the Holy One of God." These prophetic words we hear in today's Gospel were not spoken by Peter, James or John. They weren't spoken by Mary Magdalen and they certainly were not spoken by the Scribes or Pharisees. No, it was "an unclean spirit" in the Capernaum community who recognized the true identity of Jesus. He was threatened by the holiness of Jesus knowing that his own motives were in direct opposition to the Holy One. His public outburst was the occasion for Jesus to cast him out of the man with convulsions and a loud cry. The members of the community were astonished first of all by Jesus "teaching with authority" and secondly by his powerful actions.
This teaching with authority came from the "very heart of his being which was his Abba experience of God. Jesus was possessed by the very compassion and love of God. His solidarity with God translated into an experience of solidarity with humankind which made Jesus a uniquely free person : courageous, fearless, independent and truthful. Cynthia Bourgeault speaks of Jesus as the "Master of Wisdom" who is teaching TRANSFORMATION. "As I am you must become and I will help you." The path to become a "holy one" is not traveled alone. When we start on this path we quickly learn of our own self deceptions and weakness. Jesus says "I will help you". "To the one who knocks, the door will be opened." "Come and follow me."
While the members of the synagogue at Capernaum were amazed, we too are amazed when a person's life matches his words. We hear thousands upon thousands of empty words : from politicians who want to sway our opinion : from commercials that want us to buy their products. Empty words vs. words filled with truth and love and justice. Words reflected in actions that verify their truth.
On June 14, 2008, 58-year-old Tim Russert collapsed and died while at work. Tim was the well-known managing editor and moderator of "Meet the Press". It was quite amazing to listen to the comments of famous people who had known him over many years. The man actually was authentically the man who he appeared to be on his show. Whether he was greeting a camera man or a president he was equally gracious. At the time I thought how interesting that simple kindness and truthfulness is perceived to be so unusual.
I don't need to be a famous TV personality or president of anything to change the world. I only need to be kind to everyone whom I encounter this day, be truthful in all of my dealings and accept the responsibility of speaking truth to power. Jesus' own authority speaking in us demands that we relinquish the safety of silence and make our voices heard on behalf of victims everywhere. Then the authority and truth of Jesus will become manifest in us. By our baptism we are one with Christ and are called to be "a holy one of God". We are called to have our actions be at one with our words. When we recognize Jesus in our lives, unlike the unclean spirit, we are amazed, challenged, grateful and humbly pray that he might act through us in our unique time and place.
Jesus, by your Holy Spirit, help us to be a Holy one of God!