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When Satan tells the truth

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Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 01/10/23

Faith should never be solely proclaimed, but also lived.

Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.

Finding people teaching in the synagogue, especially on the Sabbath, was not an oddity in Jesus’ day. But when it is Jesus who does it, then the Gospel underlines something special:

“They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

This is the great difference between authoritativeness and authoritarianism. The latter works only by instilling fear. Authoritativeness, on the other hand, inspires an attraction that, in turn, instills respect out of beauty, truth, reliability – certainly not out of fear. 

Even within the Church we can base our relationships and bonds on fear and power – the power that others might have over our lives. But whenever we do this, we are working against the logic of the Gospel – a logic that is driven by authoritativeness instead, by a life lived according to the truth. 

Evil hates authoritative people because they don’t follow the world’s logic. It is no coincidence that immediately after underlining the quality of Jesus’ preaching, Mark adds the reaction of a possessed person:

“Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and 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.’ But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit, throwing him into convulsions and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.” 

Paradoxically, the devil spoke the truth: Jesus is truly the Holy One of God. But the truth the devil spoke, even if orthodox, is not edifying. Jesus rebukes and silences him because faith should never be solely proclaimed, but also lived. Saying the right things but living the opposite is typical of the devil. This should make us think. A lot.


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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