A contemplative community in formation of the Institute of Saint Joseph
Monday, March 8, 2010
Jesus Drives Out Demons
The Gospel for yesterday's Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Third Sunday of Lent, was about the driving out of a demon from a mute man. In this passage, some very important teaching is given to us about the nature of evil, the power of Christ over evil spirits, and the necessity of believing that demons, do, in fact, exist.
Today so much materialism and secularism has made many people believe that what was formerly understood as demonic activity, is rather, psychological or psychiatric problems. While these are definitely an aspect of human life, and thanks be to God, we understand these illnesses to be just that, illness, which can be helped by medical intervention; still, the fact remains that evil is very much alive and active in the lives of so many. This is a spiritual reality that has many ramifications into the psychological, mental, emotional and physical realm.
The Church teaches that evil is not merely human; there are spiritual beings, fallen angels, if you will, that are active and attempt to draw men and women into the web of evil, which separates them from God and leads to destruction, beginning in this life and if not repented, into the next.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "[t]he revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace.We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror"(385). The devil and the evil spirits want nothing more than for us to be frightened of their power or even to think they are stronger than God. We must have a true "fear", in the sense that we avoid evil and any kind of relationship with the evil spirits (the occult, Ouija boards, seances, etc.). But the real fear is the "fear of the Lord"; a true respect for God, an abhorrence of offending Him, acknowledgment of His power which exceeds anything the devil or the evil spirits have. They make a lot of noise; they try to influence, manipulate and scare us. But they are created spirits. Their power is limited and is really only as much as we allow them to have over us.
When Jesus is accused of driving out demons by the "power of Beelzebub", He answers back that if is by the 'finger of God' (an important image here) that He drives out demons, "the kingdom of God is already here among you." The 'finger of God' refers to the "tablets of stone 'by the finger of God' (i.e., the Ten Commandments) so "then the 'letter from Christ' entrusted to the care of the apostles, is written 'with the Spirits of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on the tablets of human hearts'(2 Cor 3:3). The hymn Veni Creator Spiritus invokes the Holy Spirit as the 'finger of the Father's right hand'"(CCC 700). Jesus' Divine authority is ever-greater than any evil, any sin. He is the Lord of all!
During these weeks before the great celebration of the Lord's Suffering, Death and Resurrection, a good confession is in order so that we may avail ourselves to the graces of this blessed season, as well as an "exorcistic" release from the bonds of evil and sin. It is through the Sacraments, most especially the absolution of a priest in confession, that Jesus looses the bonds of evil. In fact, a famous exorcist has written that absolution in the Sacrament of Penance is even more powerful that the Rite of Exorcism; it is the power of Christ Jesus..."I absolve you from your sins"...it is not the priest speaking on his own; it is Jesus speaking through the mediation of the priest, just as he spoke to mute man and released him from his bondage.
What a wonderful grace to know that Jesus frees us from evil by His Word and Sacraments. Don't miss out on the encounter with Jesus in the Sacrament of Penance during these days of repentance and conversion!