Tuesday of Week 22 in Ordinary Time
1 Ths 5:1-6,9-11
In the synagogue there was a man who was possessed by the spirit of an unclean devil, and it shouted at the top of its voice…
Today’s gospel surrounds this possessed man in the presence of Jesus, calling out to Him in the synagogue. Often, we think of places of worship as holy grounds where evil spirits would never thrive, and certainly the manifestation of the demon in God’s presence is unthinkable! Such misconceptions were reinforced through inaccurate depictions in movies where humans often sought refuge in places of worship to avoid pursuit by demons and spirits. However, today’s gospel absolutely debunks that myth, and makes us rethink about how we can guard ourselves against the forces of evil.
Although the probability of witnessing a manifestation of a demon would be rather uncommon, having negative thoughts and exhibiting acts of sin can be an everyday affair regardless of the venue, even in the church and certainly amongst the Christian community. These can all be attributed to the fruits of the evil one if we do not guard ourselves well. The spiritual battle is a constant one, and the moment we think we have arrived is perhaps the moment of our downfall.
One of the best ways of defending ourselves is through regular Sacraments of Reconciliation – an act of allowing sin to come into the light; and light in this context can be referred to as Jesus. In today’s gospel, Jesus rebuked the evil within the man and cast him out, and it was mentioned that the demon threw the man down in front of the crowd and came out of him without doing him any harm. By going for confessions, we are allowing ourselves the opportunity to have the evil within us come into the light, and for the sins to be driven out without causing us further harm. Imagine if the man with the unclean spirit in the gospel had sat still and not cried out in the synagogue; would there be a possibility that it would continue to remain within the man and not be cast out by Jesus? The same goes for the sins that continue to bind us if we refuse the Sacrament of Reconciliation; in essence, we are denying ourselves of the opportunity to be set free.
Bringing our sins and shortcomings into the open is humiliating and uncomfortable. None of us wants the world to know our darkest secrets. The biggest forces against confession are probably pride and sloth. Pride prevents us from humbling ourselves to share our failings with another; sloth is the root cause when we come to a point of futility after confessing the same sins over and again. However, breaking free from strongholds will never happen on our own. Pretending that we have it all together is purely an act of self-deception. Remember that we are dealing with the powers of the fallen angels; we mere humans will be defenceless unless God is in the equation. Most importantly, we must call out to Jesus, just like what the man with the unclean spirit did in the gospel. God will always be there, but will never impose His will on us if we refuse to abide; that’s the power of free will that He has bestowed upon us. Hopefully, we can all embark on the path of contrition before the Lord, and give ourselves the opportunity to purify our hearts and intentions. May we all find the humility to accept the way out that God is so faithfully offering to us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Dylan Tan)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to be contrite and humble. Unite us so that we will have the power you intended in order to live this life in victory. Let us treat each other with love and pray earnestly for one another. May you continue to extend your mercy and faithfulness to each one of us – In Jesus’s name. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for being with us every single moment of our lives and guiding us to bring our failings into the light.