In His name- Wednesday, 7th week in ordinary time- Mk 9:38-40

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and has just predicted his passion, death and resurrection for the second time. He has given his disciples a second teaching on what discipleship is all about and used a child to make more than just a point.

The   two verses that make up today’s Gospel seem to be a bit misplaced, for if you have your Bible in your hand and read verse 42 after 37 the two would flow seamlessly, as if Jesus continued to use the little child to explain his teaching. Many scholars have opined that perhaps these two verses were introduced because it reflected an issue that ailed Mark’s community.

The key words in verse 37 are the words, “in my name” and these words seem to attract the following episode of today’s Gospel about exorcism in Jesus’ name. The mention of ‘the name’ appears three times in this text and is used in relation to casting out a demon. So is this text only centred on demonic possession or is there more to it?

For Mark the battle against Satan, demons or unclean spirits is a central theme of his Gospel. So far we have encountered three incidences in the Gospel of demonic possession; this being the fourth. Jesus’ first public act was to cast out the unclean spirit from a man in the synagogue in Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28) followed by another incident in 5:7 and then in 9:14-18 when his disciples (nine of them were unable to cast out a spirit from a child).

The second passion prediction and teaching on discipleship( yesterday’s Gospel) is preceded and followed by incidents of demonic possession; the boy with the spirit (8:14) and today’s narration of the man casting out demons in Jesus’ name. How then is this demonic possession resolved? Mark introduces THE name of Jesus as part of the teaching on discipleship as a means to overpower Satan. It is by this name alone that the evil one is vanquished.

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