Knowing Jesus vs. Believing in Jesus

Homily for the Memorial of St. John Bosco

Throughout the Gospel of Mark, there are only a select few who recognize that Jesus is the Son of God. In the passage that we hear today, we are introduced to one surprising group that knew Jesus’ true identity: the demons. Because of that, they were compelled to obey Jesus. What can we learn from that, though? This encounter between Jesus and the demons brings us to the understanding that simply knowing Jesus is the Son of God is not enough; it doesn’t constitute belief in Jesus. It is a challenge for us. All of us here without a doubt know that Jesus is the Son of God, that He is the Savior. But the question we are being invited to consider is: do we assent to his Lordship in our lives and allow a relationship with Him to change us?

As Christians, we are called to know, love, serve and follow Jesus. We are called to be in relationship with Him, to allow that relationship to bring us to our own moments of deeper conversion. All of us are sinners in some way. We all have areas of our lives that we often keep the Lord from entering. We all have areas of our hearts that need to experience the healing presence of the Savior. Do we let Him in?

Jesus came to save all people from the captivity of sin – that’s a reality that we have heard about consistently throughout Scripture and it’s something the Church has been proclaiming from the very beginning. All Jesus desires to do is to bring us to experience the fullness of life, He wants us to experience deep communion with Himself and with others in our Christian communities. He wants to bring each of us to wholeness. We see an example of that in how Jesus cares for this man possessed by Legion.

The possessed man had an incredibly intimate encounter with God’s mercy. His running to and prostrating himself before Jesus was an act of repentance. After Jesus forgave and freed the man from oppression, he wanted to follow Jesus. Instead, Jesus tells him something quite interesting, He gives the man a specific mission. Jesus tells the man to go home to his family and to tell them about what God had done for him. The man was sent to share Christ’s mercy with his loved ones and community. He was participating in Jesus’ mission of bringing glad tidings to the poor and proclaiming liberty to captives. This man’s exile was ended, his life was restored. He was changed by his own encounter with the Lord.

This morning, the Lord wants to change us by our encounter with Him in the Eucharist. He wants to bring us to our own experience of freedom and restoration. Simply accepting that Jesus is the Messiah is not enough. We have to allow Him to enter the deep recesses of our hearts and to change us. Today, as we approach the altar to receive the Body of the Lord, call to mind those areas of our hearts that need healing. Ask the Lord to enter those spaces and to transform them so that we, too, can go out and share with others how the Lord has saved us.

Published by Fr. Tom Pringle

Priest of the Diocese of Orlando. Parochial Vicar at Holy Family Catholic Church, Orlando.

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