“Growing deeper in our relation with the Lord, and with Him, being strong and bold against the storms of the evil one!”
(Based on Gen 21:5,8-20 and Mt 8:28-34 – Wednesday of the 13th Week in Ordinary Time)
Four boys were on an expedition – through the rivers and valleys and the mountain ranges.
At the end of the day, they camped – with supper by a campfire – in a lonely ravine.
However, at midnight a terrific thunderstorm encountered them.
The boys were forced to take refuge from the storm in the barn of a farmer.
They felt safe from the stormy rain and lay on the hay…
… when suddenly they heard loud noises…
This time not that of nature… but of a human voice – loud and wild.
All through the night they heard that terrible shouting.
Somehow, in fear and trembling, they managed to through the night.
When dawn appeared, they come down from the barn, and realised the reason for the noise…
The farmer’s father was mentally unstable… mad
… locked up in one of the rooms of the house!
The expedition of the boys ended up with a dual-storm-experience!
… the storm of nature’s fury – in the thunderstorm and heavy rainfall
… the storm of human anger
- unleashed by that poor man who was hysteric
The Gospel of the Day along with the previous passage, presents two storms that are encountered by Jesus and His Disciples…
… the storm of nature’s fury – as They got caught in the heavy tempest while in the boat (Mt 8: 23-27)
… the storm of human anger – as They met the two demoniacs coming out of the tombs (Mt 8: 28-34)
In both the “stormy” and “turbulent” encounters, Jesus calms the “violence” and displays His supremacy as the Lord of all storms and turbulence.
The Gospel of the Day is the incident of the healing of the two demoniacs.
The word “demons” might immediately put off many a people… including perhaps some of us…
“Modern and learned” sceptics of the Bible dismiss demon-possession as rubbish!
Some might say that it was just a primitive manner that people had, to describe psychic or social disorders.
Some might say that it was just a superstitious belief and practice.
But when we consider the Bible in its totality and especially the ministry of Jesus, it is very evidently seen that there is not much accommodation to superstitious beliefs or practices.
Any false or fanciful superstitious stuff was in fact, corrected or rectified!
The Church teaches that the Devil is real, and not just a mythical personification of evil.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that Satan “acts in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and … his action causes grave injuries” (CCC #395).
Pope Francis, in his first homily quoted: ‘He who does not pray to the Lord, prays to the Devil.’
This then is an important aspect that we see in today’s Gospel… Jesus performing this miracle of exorcism, showing His supreme power and authority over the satanic forces.
What is my understanding of Satan and the evil forces?
I need to realise that this real force opposes anything that is spiritual and holy.
This also means that wherever there is a spiritual action taking place, there is an opposition by the Devil and his evil power.
Do I arm myself with deeper faith, courage and conviction in God’s power?
Do I equip myself with greater holiness and sanctity to withstand evil influences?
The “Our Father” is a powerful prayer which invokes the power of God against the evil: “… and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Evil”
Another important and interesting dimension that we see in today’s Gospel passage is the repulsion and disgust for Jesus…
This repulsion is displayed by two groups:
The two demoniacs
The people of the town
And this repulsion is characterised by a singular word – “begging”
The demoniacs BEGGED Him, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine” (Mt 8: 31)
Thereupon the whole town came to meet Jesus, and when they say Him, they BEGGED Him to leave their district” (Mt 8: 34)
The demoniacs couldn’t stand the Holiness and Power of the Lord and so they “begged” Him to cast them into the swine
The people of the town – we are not very sure, what exactly were their reasons – too had a repulsion to the Lord and “begged” Him to leave their district.
In both the cases, one thing is clear: Holiness was opposed and was found repulsive by evil forces!
Where there is Holiness, evil cannot stand!
Where there is Sanctity, satan finds it unbearable!
This then, makes it imperative on our part, as Christians, to embrace ourselves closer into holiness and immerse ourselves deeper into the power of God!
Evil is a reality…
But the power of God, is a much stronger force!
Jesus says, “Fear not, I have conquered the world”
May we grow deeper in our relation with the Lord, and with Him, be strong and bold against the “storms” of the evil one!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE MYSTERIES OF JESUS’ INFANCY
Jesus’ circumcision, on the eighth day after His Birth, is the sign of His incorporation into Abraham’s descendants, into the people of the covenant.
It is the sign of His submission to the Law and His deputation to Israel’s worship, in which He will participate throughout His Life.
This sign prefigures that “circumcision of Christ” which is Baptism.
The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Saviour of the world.
The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee.
In the magi, representatives of the neighbouring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation.
The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the One who will be King of the nations.
Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Saviour of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament.
The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”).
The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord.
With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Saviour – the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the “light to the nations” and the “glory of Israel”, but also “a sign that is spoken against”.
The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ’s perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had “prepared in the presence of all peoples”.
The flight into Egypt and the massacre of the innocents make manifest the opposition of darkness to the light: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.”
Christ’s whole life was lived under the sign of persecution. His own share it with Him.
Jesus’ departure from Egypt recalls the exodus and presents him as the definitive liberator of God’s people (Cf. CCC # 527-530)