Facing the Demons

Monday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

January 27, 2020

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(Sorry for the late post.  I had a brief episode of social life this afternoon. 🙂 )

Today, in Mercy, our readings talk about the polar opposites of unity and division.

Our first reading gives us David, embraced by his kinsmen, and anointed King. Strong in his unified reign, David leads his people to victory over all their enemies. His is the idyllic kingdom – the “Camelot” of the Old Testament.

Then Mark gives us Jesus, of whom David was but a pale foreshadowing. Today’s passage follows the incident in which Jesus’s kinsmen, rather than embrace him, try to “seize”him because they think he’s “out of his mind”.

Clearly, the Kingdom of Mercy for sinners and outcasts is not as acceptable as David’s kingdom of prosperity and military might. Jesus had a hard sell on his hands as his listeners have their old definitions and expectations shattered. His family can’t accept his challenge – they think he’s crazy. And now his neighbors say he is possessed by the devil!

Pretty dispiriting for Jesus, right? 

No way! Here, very early in Mark, Jesus – despite challenge – emerges as “the stronger one”:

But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.

Jesus’s strength lies in his Oneness with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Divine Community that embraces and inspires his mission. Human rejection, even in the ultimate form of Calvary, will not change or diminish his Truth.

Mk3_29 demons


When Jesus talks about blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, it is that kind of rejection he is describing – that place where a human heart is hardened against an abandonment to grace.

Here the sin is unforgivable because those who charge Jesus
with demonic possession see goodness as evil, and therefore
are closed to the action of God’s Spirit. This makes sense for
Mark’s readers only in terms of the preceding narrative
where Jesus, endowed with the Spirit, preaches the good news of God.  The unforgivable sin in biblical thought is similar to “hardness of heart”.

The Gospel of Mark ~ John R. Donahue, SJ, Daniel J. Harrington, SJ


Today’s Gospel reminds us to continually purify that inner heart where God wants to dwell in us. The demons that would petrify us are often more subtle than the ones in our Gospel story. They masquerade under the guise of a false “gospel” that fails to require our inner conversion to mercy, justice and love.

May we pray with today’s Responsorial Psalm that God’s faithfulness and mercy guide us as we seek to deepen in the Mystery of Christ.

Music: Deeper – Hillsong

Demons

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071018.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Jesus cures a demoniac who is mute. 

In Jesus’ time, the connection between ordinary disease and demonical possession was quickly drawn – perhaps too quickly. As we read some of the Gospel cures, our modern understanding recognizes epilepsy, glaucoma, cataracts and mental illness in the people Jesus touched and healed. But two thousand years ago, these conditions were assigned to demons.

Demons

This doesn’t mean demons don’t exist. Remember the Gerasene miracle where Jesus cast demons into pigs who then threw themselves into the sea? Dramatic evidence that demons are real!

Demons are real in our world too, embodiments of the evil that is always competing for control of Creation, that is always resisting the supremacy of Goodness and Love.

These demons masquerade in various costumes of power, prestige and pleasure. But they are all eventually exposed as addictive, self-consuming and destructive.

How dangerous and deceptive these demons are! The word itself comes from the same Greek root as the word “genius”. And they do have a genius for rendering us:

  • blind to narcissistic motivations
  • crazed with exaggerated self-importance
  • crippled by deceptive rhetoric
  • mute in the face of systemic evil
  • deaf to the cries of the suffering
  • dead to the power of transforming Mercy in our own souls

Even as you read this list, faces and moments of history and current events are flashing before your eyes.  Circumstances in your own life, family and work suggest themselves. Bring these to your transforming prayer today. The touch of Jesus can deliver us from such demons. We pray for that touch in our own hearts and in our world.

Music: Our Father – Leontyne Price