Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “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, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.Mark 1:21-28
Power in Naming
Opposing spirits sought to overcome Jesus by identifying him precisely by name as the “Holy One (Hagios) of God.” The declaration was “not a confession but an attempt to ward off Jesus’ power, reflecting the notion that use of the precise name of an opposing spirit would guarantee mastery over him” (NABRE footnote to Mark 1:24).
Episodes like this reveal the hidden, invisible warfare of “principalities and powers” against the kingdom of God (Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 2:15). Pure intelligences have the capacity to recognize truth, but void of love, the presence of the “Holy One” is torment:
Even the demons believe—and shudder.
James 2:19 (RSV)
Today’s couplet recalls the words of John the Baptist about the Holy One who will judge Jerusalem and the earth with a winnowing fan (Jeremiah 15:7).
“His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Matthew 3:12 (cf. Luke 3:17)
Unseen spirits saw God in a man:
Hagios with a winnowing fan.