4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I love movies about exorcisms. Apparently, so do many others.
The 2023 movie “Nefarious” features a possibly possessed inmate on death row. Critics were not impressed, but audiences scored it at 97% on the website Rotten Tomatoes.
Most people have an appreciation for the demonic realm, even if cultural elites are generally embarrassed about it. As is standard in exorcism movies, the afflicted person (in this case, a man named Edward Brady) thinks and acts like multiple persons. He is someone besides himself. We know what that is like.
We feel fake sometimes, not ourselves.
The same dynamic is on dramatic display this week in the Gospel. Jesus the Exorcist approaches a possessed man who utters, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” Notice the plural, us.
The basic effect of the demonic is division. The man’s identity is fractured, divided, and thus many. Jesus powerfully expels the
spirit by saying, “Quiet! Come out of him!” Jesus’ word has the power to restore the man’s singularity — him
— and indeed it does.
All this helps us to dismiss childish images of demons sporting red goat tails. Equally, it overcomes the cultured aloofness that dreams demons are mere metaphors for evil. We see instead that fallen angels are conscious and intelligent beings who orient their agency toward division.
They bring about schism where there should be unity, e.g., in persons, families, communities, politics, and so on. Thankfully, Jesus commands demons to flee from all these places to restore wholeness and peace.
What if we made room for his word where we need it?