Lectio Divina: Luke 4:31-37
1) Opening prayer
every good thing comes from You.
Fill our hearts with love for You,
increase our faith,
and by Your constant care
protect the good You have given us.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 4:31-37
Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee. He taught them on the sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a loud voice, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!" Jesus rebuked him and said, "Be quiet! Come out of him!" Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm. They were all amazed and said to one another, "What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out." And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.
• In today’s Gospel we can see the facts more closely: the admiration of the people because of the way Jesus taught and the cure of a man who was possessed by an unclean spirit. Not all the Evangelists give this account in the same way. For Luke, the first miracle is the peace with which Jesus liberates Himself from the threat of death on the part of the people of Nazareth (Lk 4:29-30) and the cure of the possessed man (Lk 4:33-35). For Matthew, the first miracle is the cure of the sick and of the possessed (Mt 4:23) or, more specifically, the cure of a leper (Mt 8:1-4). For Mark, the first miracle was the expulsion of the devil (Mk 1: 23-26). For John, the first miracle was Cana, where Jesus changed the water into wine (Jn 2:1-11). Thus, in the way of narrating things, each Evangelist indicates which was Jesus’ greatest concern.
• Luke 4:31: Jesus’ change in direction toward Capernaum: “Jesus went down to Capernaum, a city in Galilee, and on Saturday He taught the people.” Matthew says that Jesus went to live in Capernaum (Mt 4:13). He changed His residence. Capernaum was a small city on the crossroad between two important routes: the one coming from Asia Minor and leading to Petra on the south of Transjordan, and the other one coming from the region of the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, and leading down toward Egypt. The change toward Capernaum facilitated contact with the people and the spreading of the Good News.
• Luke 4:32: Amazement of the people at the teaching of Jesus. The first thing that people perceive is that Jesus teaches in a different way. It is not so much the content that strikes them, but rather His way of teaching: “Jesus speaks with authority.” Mark adds that because of His different way of teaching, Jesus created a critical conscience among the people in regard to the religious authority of His time. The people perceived and compared: “He teaches with authority, unlike the Scribes” (Mk 1:22,27). The Scribes taught quoting authority. Jesus does not quote any authority; rather He speaks from His experience of God and of His life.
• Luke 4:33-35: Jesus fights against the power of evil. The first miracle is the expulsion of the devil. The power of evil took possession of people, alienating them. Jesus restores the people to be themselves again, giving them back consciousness and liberty. He does this thanks to the force of His word: “Be quiet! Come out of him!” And on another occasion He says: “But if it is through the finger of God that I drive devils out, then the Kingdom of God has indeed caught you unawares” (Lk 11:20). Today, also, many people live alienated from themselves, subjugated by means of communication, by the propaganda of the government and of business. They live as slaves of consumerism, oppressed by debts and threatened by creditors. People think that they do not live well if they do not have everything which the propaganda announces. It is not easy to expel this power, which today alienates many people.
• Luke 4:36-37: The reaction of the people: He gives orders to the unclean spirits. Jesus not only has a different way of teaching the things of God, but another aspect which evokes admiration in the people is His power over unclean spirits: “What is it in His words? He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out.” Jesus opens a new path so that the people can place themselves before God to pray and to receive the blessings promised to Abraham. Before, they had to purify themselves. There were many laws and norms which made the life of the people difficult and marginalized many people who were considered impure. But now, purified by faith in Jesus, people could once again place themselves before God and pray to Him, without needing to have recourse to the complicated norms of purity, which were frequently expensive.
4) Personal questions
• Jesus brings about admiration and astonishment among the people. Does the way of acting of our community draw admiration from the people of the neighborhood? What type of admiration? Are my personal actions also worthy of admiration?
• Jesus drives out the power of evil and restores people to be themselves again. Today many people live alienated from everything . How can we help them to recover and be themselves again?
5) Concluding Prayer
Yahweh is tenderness and pity,
slow to anger, full of faithful love.
Yahweh is generous to all.
His tenderness embraces all His creatures. (Ps 145:8-9)