In our Gospel reading for today, crowds of people come to see Jesus, having heard about all the things He was doing. Mark tells us that “whenever unclean spirits saw him, they would fall down before him and shout. ‘You are the Son of God.’ He warned them sternly not to make him known.”
Why would Jesus not want to be made known like this? I think it has to do with what kind of relationship He wanted and still wants with people today. I think He might have reasoned that if people only related to Him in terms of what He could do for them, they would miss relating to Him as He is.
That’s still true for us. In our first reading from 1 Samuel, we hear the beginnings of Saul’s jealousy of David, even to the point of wanting to kill him. This jealousy eventually overtook Saul, and in a real way destroyed him. If we look at others and wonder why he has this or she has that, and we don’t, and wonder why God hasn’t blessed us that way, we lose sight of what Jesus did do for us on the Cross, and the unfathomable mystery of God’s love for us.
We can ask God for material or physical blessings, and we may or may not receive them, depending on how God wishes to answer our prayers, and give us what we need. But I do believe that when we ask for spiritual healing: healing from jealousy, from fear, from anxiety, from resentment, from despair, we will receive it.
May we not lose sight of what Jesus has done for us and what He continues to do for us. May we not be overtaken by jealousy or fear or anger, but instead put our trust in God and be at peace.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is a member of the Passionist Community in Birmingham, Alabama.