4 February, Thursday — If you want to soar, you must first learn to fly

Thursday of Week 4 in Ordinary Time

Heb 12:18-19,21-24
Mk 6:7-13

And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff…

A few years ago, a talk on demonic possession was conducted at the Catholic Spirituality Centre. I did not register for the talk but when I popped over to have a look-see, it was packed to the brim — standing room only. I joked with a friend that when it was a talk about the devil, it is usually full-house. But when it’s a talk on some other topic of Christian faith, chances are it would be ‘under-subscribed’. Although starting out as a joke, it dawned on me that this in fact, attests to an underlying truth about the state of our faith.

More often than not, we fail to truly acknowledge God’s sovereignty and authority. We forget that whilst the power of the devil is not to be trifled with, he is nevertheless, like us, a creature. And as a creature, he too is ultimately still subjugated to the Creator. The devil, for all his huff and fury, fools not only us but himself. Unlike God, he is neither omniscient, nor omnipotent nor omni-present. And his ‘power’ actually comes from us – how much we choose to give him that power over us instead of allowing God’s power to reign supreme in us. He is NOT God. He just wants to fool us into believing that he is. Are you one of those fooled by him?

Jesus reminds us that He opposes all forms of domination and He wants us to do likewise. So, Jesus stands by the poor and the outcast, he liberates those possessed by demons or dominated by addiction, sickness, despair, despondency. We are reminded of the danger that possessiveness is to our souls. The desire for wealth, prestige, consumption, leads us ultimately down the path of our own self-destruction through pride, arrogance, selfishness and indifference. In this world, the more we want and the more we have, the less we are and become because it stunts our ability to love God and to love others. Do you?

The Gospel also reminds us that God alone provides. The power of the apostles to cast out demons comes from God alone. In the battle against evil, so rampant in this world, Jesus shows us from Him alone can we find all power and sovereignty for our deliverance. Ever wondered why the only thing Jesus allowed His disciples to bring along with them is a staff? It perhaps has something to do with the message that the only thing we can lean on for support on our journey is Him. And that we do need to lean on that support and never to try to go on our journey without it.

Allow me to end this reflection not with answers but with questions – Who or what is my ‘staff’? On the other hand, what are our ‘demons’? Do I dominate and diminish others and leave them in states of damage and bondage? Do I try to cast out the ‘devils’ in others? Or do I allow God or others to help me to do so? How much baggage do I carry along with me in life’s journey? How much ‘dust’ do we allow to cling to us in our spiritual sojourn on this earth? Are there things that I hang on to which I may be better off letting go?

And for those of you who remain more fascinated with the power of evil than of God’s sovereignty, perhaps there is this old Irish saying which we can ponder over: “May you be in heaven a full thirty minutes before the devil knows you are already dead”.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)

Prayer: Father, help us. We are often bowed down by the weight of our fears, our doubts which keep us in bondage to the lies and oppression of the evil one. We are prisoners of this world and we long to be set free. Only You can deliver us.

Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for all you have done for us. For understanding us, comforting us, waiting for us, welcoming and not rejecting us and for sending your Son to set us free.

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