Wednesday, 22nd Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

Notice in today’s Gospel how Jesus does not let the demons speak.

[D]emons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” But [Jesus] rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.

Jesus does not allow them to speak, even about the truth of his being the messiah, because demons mix lies within truth.

In the garden, the serpent asked the Eve, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” No, God hadn’t told them that, but God had told them not to eat from one particular tree, or they would die. The serpent insisted, “You certainly will not die!” and it is true that when they ate of the tree Adam and Eve did not keel over dead right then and there, but the divine life within them did die to be followed by natural deaths many years later.

The book of Acts records how St. Paul once encountered a slave girl who carried a demon. The slave girl used to bring profits to her owners through her fortune-telling. For many days she followed Paul, shouting out, “These people are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” Finally, Paul became annoyed, turned, and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her,” and at that moment it left her. Did you catch the lie amidst the truth in what the slave girl’s demon said? “These people are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you ‘a’ way of salvation.”

Demons smuggle lies into the truth. If a man accepts and carries a compass that is just off just a few degrees, he may not notice that anything’s wrong with it until he’s horribly lost. If there are angels helping us throughout our daily lives, encouraging us and prompting us to do good, then there are also demons trying to do the opposite.

Don’t have conversations with demons. They are spirits far more clever than us and they can confuse or discourage us greatly. However, as Christians, we should not be afraid of them. If and when you feel their oppression, make the sign of the cross (for this is an exorcistic gesture) or say, “In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, depart from me and go where you can hurt no one.” Such is our authority in Christ, that we too can command spirits. Holy water is helpful, too; it’s power can sometimes make a palpable difference.

And here’s a final tip for discerning whether a spirit be good or bad, of God or not: From time to time our friends in heaven my correct us or challenge us in our lives as disciples of Christ. But, if you ever feel discouraged or weakened, as if by an accusation or a rebuke, that is not from them. Such condemnation is either coming from of your own, lingering, internal brokenness or from an external oppressor. When one of our heavenly friends corrects or challenges us, they leave us feeling their love and with increased strength to do what is good. Recognizing this difference will help you in receiving grace and peace from God our Father.

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