Deut 18:15-20; Ps 95 If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28
We read in the gospel that Jesus comes to a synagogue in Capernaum. Synagogue was a meeting place to celebrate and to grow in faith as a community. The rabbi would give instructions and the community would gather to fulfill their obligation to keep holy the Sabbath.
While in the Synagogue Jesus meets a a man with an unclean spirit and he chooses to do something about it. This man was broken and was in need of healing. The question that comes to my mind is how many others noticed the broken man and did nothing to help him.
How often do we encounter people who are broken from within and like the crowd do nothing.
Yet Jesus rebuke the unlearn spirit.
Thus, St Mark whose gospel we are journeying with sets the stage for what's at stake with the Jesus who comes perching good news.
First, Mark reminds us that we are at war not at peace. Spiritual warfare is real. Jihad is not that which belongs to the Muslim extremist but it belongs to all of us. There are two roads in life: the straight and narrow that leads to joy and life and fulfillment and the broad and wide that leads to destruction, misery, and dissatisfaction.
Mark reminds us what is at stake. The bad news is that we are need of liberation. The good news is that Jesus is sent to set us fee. But not only does Jesus set us free but he also teaches us some spiritual martial arts or Spiritual Judo that we might defeat evil rather than tolerate it. Judo is not about over powering but rather throwing opponent off balance.
There are few things we should be attentive to in regards to spiritual warfare. What works?
Obviously the sacraments and prayers are essential. We should draw close to God. Going to confession on a regular basis and receiving the Eucharist on a regular basis if not daily is necessary for stamina as we engage in the fight.
There are other things to be in sync with as well.
Sacrifice helps defeat evil. In the book of Revelation the adversaries are identified. There is the lamb and the beast. The lamb in greek is the little lamb and the greek word to describe the beast is monstrous monster. Yet the lamb wins, defeats evil for it is willing to shed it s blood. It is the sacrifice, the laying down's one's life as we stand on the principles of goodness that evil is destroyed.
Sacrifice worked on calvary and thus it works every where. The blood of the martyrs is the seed bed of the church. Sacrifice is the height of love. It is the saying that becomes the tie that binds: my life of your life. Sacrifice is essential in defeating evil. Jim Elliot the missionary martyr from Ecuador in 1956 said that "He is not a full to give up what he can not long keep for that which he can never lose."
Humility defeats evil. One must bow low in order to rise victorious. As I have been doing a bible study on the book of revelation, i have been struck by how many times those envisioned in heaven are constantly bowing their heads or bending low before the thrown. In fact the terror of the end times will not be terrible for those who recognize their neediness before God. Pride and power go to the side of the road and true peace is engendered. This is why we begin the mass with "Lord, have mercy." we invoke the words of the blind man on the road to Jericho who cries out to Jesus, "Lord, have mercy on me." Only when we bow low in neediness are we truly able to stand erect. Humility keeps evil at bay for it teaches us to be selfless not selfish.
Friendship helps defeat evil. Friendship means we do not stand alone. We choose our friends wisely but with this is mind that they will help us in our fight again evil. Do our friends "invite" evil or "fight" evil. Think about Simon of Cyrean who helps Jesus carry the cross to Calvary. Friendship is strength because it unites. Evil wishes to divide. We are continually asked to look out for each other like the old buddy system. Friendship that is rooted in Christ defeats evil.
Words are effective in defeating evil. We tell the students to always use their words. Words have power because the word preexistence things. God spoke and the world was created. Words effect a change they signify. Think about the Sacramental system. When the minister says "I baptize you"then a change is effected. Or when Jesus says, "this is my body." Words effect a change.
The words "I love you" or "I hate you" "I forgive you" are like weapons. They are arrows that pierce the flesh through to the heart. They effect a change.
Think about the power that one has over another when their proper name is mentioned. When I am at school and call the kids by name they stop in their tracks. There is power. Think about the name of Jesus. Invoking the name of Jesus has great power in defeating evil.
As we battle unclean spirit just remember: sacrifice, humility, friendship, words and like Jesus we too will be a liberating force in the world. Spiritual Judo is a necessity for all of us to keep the opponent off balance so even the weak can overcome the strong.