Offers food for thought
Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Moses, told the people to listen to the prophet that God would raise up for them. Jesus is that prophet, the one who speaks for God, definitively and forever. He is the one of whom God the Father said, “This is my Son, Listen to Him.”
Listening often involves both the eyes and the ears, and always actively involves alertness of mind and attentiveness of the soul. Today’s Gospel account of the words and actions of Jesus tells us something very important about His mission that we ought to listen to carefully. We see and hear that his work is focused on exercising from the world and in the souls of man, the presence of evil wrought through the work of Enemy number 1. With the power and authority of his word, Jesus silences and expels the demon. “Be quiet! Come out of him!” The man is made free. Christs work of salvation has begun.
We are being reminded not to overlook the truth that the enemy is real and is determined to sabotage the work of grace in and through us. We are being reminded that our faith teaches (CCC #414), "Satan or the devil and the other demons are fallen angels who have freely refused to serve God and his plan. Their choice against God is definitive. They try to associate man in their revolt against God." We are being reminded that the beloved disciple summed up Jesus' mission saying: "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." (1 John 4:8)
Some folks might say, even some folks here today, that this is a story for a time before the enlightenment of man, because for us in the age of science, such stories about demons and supernatural evil forces have no meaning. But, these folks aren’t listening to the Word of God and they are ignoring the actions of Christ. They are like ones who have eyes but cannot see, who have ears but cannot hear. They fail to see and to hear the truth behind the words and actions of Christ and the Saints throughout history. Jesus himself frequently referred to the devil in his parables and other teachings, and the devil himself tempted Jesus in the desert and returned later to engineer Judas' betrayal.
This denial makes easier the work of the enemy. For example, ignoring the existence and activity of the enemy, would be like being sick and pretending you’re not, so you go about your business as normal… but pretending doesn’t make you not sick, in fact it will make you and others increasingly sick. Such is the danger of ignoring the reality of the enemy.
People have become conditioned to believe that such things as reading horoscopes, watching horror movies (especially those focused on the demonic), Ouija boards, palm reading, tea leaves, crystals, etc, are merely harmless entertainment. But the Church as well as former self-professed ‘true disciples’ of the enemy consistently and tirelessly warn against experimenting with these things and more, because they are in fact gateways which the enemy uses to draw us into a web of lies.
We should have no trouble believing and understanding this truth, because we clearly know and understand that human beings are capable of doing exactly the same thing, and we’re not nearly as clever as the enemy. None of us would disagree with the fact that brainwashing techniques, national propaganda efforts and psychological warfare practices rely on the use of media to affect the way people think about things. Think even, of the social engineering efforts that happen right now through the work of creators of movie and TV shows, which is not primarily for entertainment but is oriented toward changing public opinion about certain moral practices. Dabbling with these things, consciously or pretending them to be harmless, is to directly contradict the faith, our baptismal promises and parts of the Creed… and allow friendship with Christ to eventually be destroyed.
There is a spiritual battle going on and we cannot avoid being the subjects of it. We must always, as St Peter says, "Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
Cling to Christ. Through regular prayer and receiving the Eucharist in a worthy state and manner.
Cling to the truth. The main weapon of the enemy is deception. This is one reason the enemy fights to keep us out of the confessional. Confession is the gift of truth: we face the truth about ourselves and God. Through the priest, we are reminded of the truth of God’s mercy, forgiveness, and grace.
Cling to a love that serves. The enemy is the lord of selfishness, and Christ is the Lord of love. When we resist our selfishness by serving others, we weaken the devil's influence in our lives.
Jesus always expelled the demons from the possessed, easily and definitively. Jesus gives us power in him to do the same and overcome the enemy. Every Christian must become a spiritual warrior and one who absolutely can be victorious in Christ. The enemy has no power over us or in us, that we don’t give it….
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.