Monday, January 30, 2017

“Very few people believe in the devil these days, which suits the devil very well.”

“The evil in the world must not make me doubt the existence of God. There could be no evil if there were no God. Before there can be a hole in a uniform, there must be a uniform; before there is death, there must be life; before there is error, there must be truth; before there is a crime, there must be liberty and law; before there is a war, there must be peace; before there is a devil, there must be a God, rebellion against whom made the devil.” ― Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: (1895 – 1979: American archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church known for his preaching and especially his work on television and radio)

Gospel Text: (MK 5:1-20)
Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea,
to the territory of the Gerasenes.
When he got out of the boat,
at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.
The man had been dwelling among the tombs,
and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.
In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains,
but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed,
and no one was strong enough to subdue him.
Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides
he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Catching sight of Jesus from a distance,
he ran up and prostrated himself before him,
crying out in a loud voice,
"What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?
I adjure you by God, do not torment me!"
(He had been saying to him, "Unclean spirit, come out of the man!")
He asked him, "What is your name?"
He replied, "Legion is my name. There are many of us."
And he pleaded earnestly with him
not to drive them away from that territory.

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.
And they pleaded with him,
"Send us into the swine. Let us enter them."
And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine.
The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea,
where they were drowned.
The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town
and throughout the countryside.
And people came out to see what had happened.
As they approached Jesus,
they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion,
sitting there clothed and in his right mind.
And they were seized with fear.
Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened
to the possessed man and to the swine.
Then they began to beg him to leave their district.
As he was getting into the boat,
the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.
But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead,
"Go home to your family and announce to them
all that the Lord in his pity has done for you."
Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis
what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.

There seems to be a lot of curiosity about demons from popular culture, but it is important to remember that, "the power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God's reign." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 395).  I like to think of them as bugs - easily squashed by Jesus, however bacteria often attach themselves to us by an open wound or sore.  This explains why healing is always a part of exorcism in Christ's work, and also why it is the more important and long term work.  It is easy to swipe a wound with antiseptic, but the more patient work is healing the actual wound.

This is exactly what Jesus does.  He heals.  This is good news.  This must be shared.

Here are a few practical ways we can do this:

Baptism - It is where we are freed from the demon and healed from sin.  Ignite the flame of your baptism by frequent and intense prayer and meditation on the Word of God, especially the Mass readings.  You are probably reading this article because you are already interested in doing this.  Well done.  Keep it up.  However because we need Christ's help returning to baptismal innocence we need to go to frequent

Confession - At least once a month and if your really mean business, like you actually want to become like Christ, once a week.  Find a stable confessor you can be accountable to on a consistent basis, who can help you in the long term. 

Eucharist - Why would you not have contact with Jesus Christ every day in daily Mass?  Ok maybe your state in life makes it hard for you to go every day, but there are usually many masses around in different churches at different times.  You are where you want to be.  Make time.  Do. It.

Rosary - Pray the Rosary. Daily.  Blessed Pope John Paul II called it his favorite "missionary prayer."  This is because in 15 minutes you allow Our Lady to preach the Gospel to you and to pray for the sending of the Holy Spirit upon you to share this good news with the poor.

Pope Francis - Stay plugged in to the Holy Father's words and works.  He is so clear and simple.  Perfect for our age.  The vatican youtube channel has his daily homilies in a few minutes.  He tweets ultra clear messages of 140 characters that can shape your whole mission for a day.

Courage - be encouraged, enthused, enlivened, and animated by God's choice in sending YOU.  He has chosen YOU.  He loves YOU.  Allow yourself to feel this choice and this love every day.  Give God permission to love and convert you that you may help bring this about in others.

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