February 4, 2024: Choosing What We Hear

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

Choosing What We Hear

In the Gospel lesson, Jesus healed many people and cast out many demons. How curious it is that Mark notes in this process of removing demons, Jesus didn’t allow the demons to speak.

Why? What did they intend to say? Would they out Jesus as the Son of God before he wanted that to be common knowledge? Would they speak against Jesus, somehow twisting his healing of people into a bad thing, in an attempt to turn the crowds against him? By speaking would they be able to gain sympathetic hearts, and thereby find new homes? Is it simply a matter of illustrating Jesus’ power over the demons, showing he was able to control even their ability to speak?

We aren’t told why, so we are free to speculate. I do believe Mark wouldn’t have included this detail if it didn’t add something to the story. So what does it mean? What’s the takeaway?

In the United States, the Land of the Free, we staunchly defend one’s right to free speech. Nevertheless, as Jesus points out, not all words should be heard. Not all words are worthy of an audience. One only needs a cursory glance into the world of social media to see how true this is. Indeed, it is not normally our place to determine who can or cannot speak. Yet we are free to a great extent to determine what words we hear.

Do not give ear to the words of demons, words of hate, anger, and fear. Instead, cling to the words of our Savior. Take to heart the words of the Spirit. Words of mercy, forgiveness, and love. In so doing, we too can bring healing and help cast out the demons of our society, building a more peace-filled world for all.


Jay Petrella, pastor, Graceham Moravian Church
Thurmont, Maryland