Healing and Resistance

Homily, Healing and Resistance/ Curación y Resistencia
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, 2020
Santa Fe Episcopal Church
San Antonio, TX

The Rev. Derek M Larson, TSSF

Today’s Lectionary Readings:

“They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! Incluso a los espíritus impuros da órdenes, y lo obedecen!”

En el nombre del Padre, y el Hijo, y el Espíritu Santo. Amén.

Horror Movies and Exorcisms

When people in public find out you’re a pastor, you get into some of the most interesting conversations with the most interesting questions. A few weeks ago I was at the dentist. The technician x-raying my teeth started making conversation with me and asked what I did for a living, and I told him I was a seminarian studying to be a priest. This seemed to perk him up a bit and he seemed interested. After a few minutes of small talk he stopped and asked me, “Can I ask you a question?” “Sure,” I said. “At your school do you study demonology and learn how to do exorcisms?” At first I didn’t know what to say. That is not something I have any interest in studying. But it is a good question. “Actually we don’t spend much time on that in my program,” I said, “that is a very particular ministry that not all priests are called to.” “Oh, I see. I just always wanted to ask that,” he said.

While we don’t talk about it much, we as a society are so fascinated in the spiritual realm of angels and demons. How many of you like horror movies about demons and exorcisms? A lot of people LOVE that stuff! Not me. Not my cup of tea. I do not feel called to that ministry.

Scripture: A Synagogue Exorcism 

In today’s gospel we encounter an exorcism, but interestingly it looks nothing like those horror movies that give us nightmares. There are no spinning heads. No blood and gore. No knives. There are no dark and abandoned mansions, or hotels, or churches. No, this exorcism takes place in the middle of the day in a completely ordinary and even holy place. It’s the sabbath and Jesus is teaching in the synagogue when “a man with an unclean spirit” enters and confronts Jesus, evidently afraid of being destroyed. Jesus tells the unclean spirit to be quiet and come out, and after a bit of a noisy rumble and tumble, the spirit leaves. The end. That’s it. No suspense. No horror. No gore. The people who saw what happened were not running or screaming. They weren’t left frozen in shock. Instead they were impressed. “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 

This Story is About Jesus

This story is not about demons. Esta historia no es sobre los demonios. No es una historia de horror. Esta historia es sobre Jesús. It’s about Jesus. Aquí, estamos en la estación de la Epifanía, y en esta estación aprendemos sobre quién es Jesús. En las estaciones del Adviento y la Navidad nos preparamos y celebramos la venida de Jesús. En las estaciones del Cuaresma y la Pascua caminamos con Jesús a la cruz y celebramos su resurrección. Pero aquí en el medio, en Epifanía, aprendemos sobre quién es Jesús. Experimentamos su poder y escuchamos sus enseñanzas. Escuchamos unas historias como la visita de los mago donde vemos a Jesús como Rey, y el bautismo donde vemos a Jesús como el Hijo de Dios, y ahora en la lectura de hoy, vemos a Jesús como el Sanador y el Hacedor de los milagros, el Santo que tiene poder y autoridad sobre toda la creación. Today we see Jesus as Healer. This theme will continue in our readings next week when Jesus heals St. Peter’s mother in law who was sick in bed with a fever—a message that will clearly resonate with us in this time of pandemic—but today, Jesus’ healing is not over the physical body but over the spirit. En la lectura de hoy, la curación de Jesús no es se realiza sobre el cuerpo físico sino sobre el espíritu. 

Healing of the spirit

¿Cuántos de nosotros nos hemos sentido enfermos cuando nuestros cuerpos estaban bien?How many of us have felt sick when our bodies were well? Maybe not with a demon, but how many of us have been weighed down by the spirit of fear in our lives? Or the spirit of addiction? Or the spirit of shame? ¿Cuántos de nosotros hemos sido agobiados por el espíritu de racismo, sexismo o abuso? ¿El espíritu de agotamiento? ¿El espíritu de desesperanza? ¿El espíritu de odio? A veces, la curación que necesitamos no está en nuestro cuerpo sino en nuestro espíritu. Y ese fue el caso del hombre de nuestra lectura de hoy. The man’s need for healing was not so much in his body as in his spirit and there he approached Jesus while the unclean spirit cried out against him. 


When I read this passage, I wonder how the man made it to Jesus there in the synagogue on that Sabbath morning. How did he make it there when this unclean spirit had so overwhelmed him it had taken over his voice and brought him to his knees. ¿Cómo llegó a Jesús un hombre tan agobiado por un espíritu impuro?When the man yelled at Jesus, “What do you want? Do you want to destroy us?” It wasn’t the man’s voice that spoke, but the spirit. How often when we speak do our words come from the things that weigh us down rather than from who we really are? And yet there the man was. Despite all that weighed him down, despite all that made him cry out, despite all that made him fall to his knees. And I can’t help but think that even with an unclean spirit, the man had some resistance left in him. Al hombre le quedaba algo de resistencia.

A veces nos sentimos abrumados por los espíritus que pesan sobre nosotros. A veces sentimos que no nos queda nada más que lo que nos pesa. Sometimes we feel like there is nothing left but our fear. Nothing left but addiction. Nothing left but shame. Oh, but we are not those things. Nosotros no somos esas cosas. Our deepest self is the holy and powerful child of God. We are resistors. Somos resistencias. And while our spirits might be weighed down, while we may feel like we are unworthy, or not strong enough, not important enough, not smart enough, deep within us is the powerful presence of God which urges us on to the feet of Jesus where we can find healing. As St. Paul says in his second letter to the Corinthians, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Cor. 4:8-9). O en la carta a los Romanos, ni la muerte, ni la vida, ni los ángeles, ni los poderes y fuerzas espirituales, ni lo presente, ni lo futuro, ni lo más alto, ni lo más profundo, ni ninguna otra de las cosas creadas por Dios. ¡Nada podrá separarnos del amor que Dios nos ha mostrado en Cristo Jesús nuestro Señor!

Through the authority that is in Jesus the Healer, the Holy One of God, we are resistors! Somos resistencias. And whatever spirit weighs us down is nothing compared to the Holy Spirit which strengthens us through the voice of Jesus. 

Come to Jesus

So the invitation this morning is to come to Jesus. Ven a Jesús. Like the man weighed down by the unclean spirit, bring your burdens to Jesus, the one who says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Come listen to the words Jesus says to the spirit that weighs down, “Be quiet!.” Come and find yourselves in Christ. For when the power and compassion of Jesus—cuando el poder y la compasión de Jesús—meet the persistent resistance of those who struggle—se encuentran con la resistencia persistente de los que luchan—we encounter the healing power of God—encontramos el poder sanador de Dios. Amén.