Dealing with Evils in the World Today

October 14, 2014 at 2:10 pm Leave a comment

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SCRIPTURE READINGS:  GAL 3:7-14; LK 11:15-26
http://www.universalis.com/20141010/mass.htm
Perhaps, one of the most dangerous attitudes of the modern man is to think that the devil is a myth, that he is not real.  The reality of the existence of the devil and his works are testified clearly in the scriptures, no less than in today’s gospel.  He is not only a real being, given the name Beelzebul, but he is also a force in the world.  We can see the worrying trend of the world today where people are becoming more materialistic and amoral.  Of course, we also cannot go to the extreme and blame everything that is wrong with the world and in our lives on the devil.  He is only a tempter and deceiver but he cannot make us do evil unless we agree to co-operate with him. If we do, then the consequence is that we find our lives are without peace and joy.
How, then, can we shield ourselves from the godless state in the world today?  Jesus warns us in the gospel, “So long as a strong man fully armed guards his own palace, his goods are undisturbed; but when someone stronger than he is attacks and defeats him, the stronger man takes away all the weapons he relied on and shares out his spoil.”  Unless our house is in order and we are properly armed with the strength of the Lord, we cannot defeat the power of evil.  We are not simply fighting a battle with man, but a battle with the spirit of evil.  Hence, it is vital that we examine the state of our spiritual life today. In other words, what kind of house do we have?  What weapons do we have to deal with the negative influences of the world so that we can enjoy lasting peace and joy?
The greatest mistake of the world is that it relies on itself and its efforts. This is what St Paul is cautioning us.  We are justified not by good works or simply by obedience to the laws. Good works only, will reinforce our pride and ego, whereas the laws show up our weaknesses, and in our inability to adequately fulfill them, lead us to self-condemnation. For this reason, St Paul warns the Galatians not to go back to the Law since none of us can perfectly observe the Law and by attempting to find justification through the Law, we only condemn ourselves. Thus he concluded, “those who rely on the keeping of the Law are under a curse, since scripture says: Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in observing everything prescribed in the book of the Law.  The Law will not justify anyone in the sight of God, because we are told: the righteous man finds life through faith.”
So what is required is faith! Paul argued against the Galatians who returned back to circumcision instead of living in the power of the Spirit.  For St Paul, what makes us the people of God is not so much a physical relationship with Abraham expressed in circumcision, but to share the same faith as Abraham.  It is faith that assures us of God’s blessings. Thus, Paul said, “Don’t you see that it is those who rely on faith who are the sons of Abraham? Scripture foresaw that God was going to use faith to justify the pagans, and proclaimed the Good News long ago when Abraham was told: In you all the pagans will be blessed.  Those therefore who rely on faith receive the same blessing as Abraham, the man of faith.”
For us who live under the New Covenant, this faith is in Jesus Himself who is the New Law, the Law of love and mercy of the Father.  Faith in Jesus is the cause of our justification.  By surrendering our lives to Him, we will “receive the promised Spirit.”  Indeed, we must turn to Jesus the strong man who can help us win the battle against the works of darkness in the world. Jesus was able to cast out the devil “through the finger of God”, that is the power of God.  Only Jesus, who gives us the same Spirit that enabled Him to cast out Satan, can help us to overcome the presence of evil in the world and in our own lives.  Only through the power of His love and mercy, can we do good.  In this way, we can establish the kingdom of God.
Many of us have experienced the power of God in our lives through miracles, healings and personal conversion.  However, the danger is that we can become complacent and rest on our past experiences, just like the Jews who became proud and self-righteous simply because they belonged to the race of Abraham.  Some Catholics presumptuously think that they are assured of salvation simply because they are baptized!
Truth is, there can be no salvation unless we have faith in Jesus.  This faith is not simply trust in Jesus, but a surrender of our entire life to Jesus.  Hence, such faith must be expressed in our daily life.  This faith should never be taken for granted, but must be nurtured to grow in depth each day.  Indeed, there is a danger that too many us, after having been touched by the Lord, do nothing about our faith. These are likened to the parable of the man who, having put his life in order, did not do anything more.  Indeed, Jesus said that the unclean spirit that comes out from him will bring “seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and set up house there, so that the man ends up by being worse than he was before.”
How then can we deepen our faith?  The weapons against the Evil One and against complacency in faith require both offensive and defensive means.  Defensive means of strengthening the faith can be done through ongoing formation.  However growing in spiritual life is not simply about praising, worshipping God and listening to spiritual and doctrinal talks.  Such defensive means must be complemented by offensive actions as well. It must be manifested in our daily life.  We must manifest our faith in good works.  In themselves good works cannot save us but they are necessary signs of our conversion.  We must complement our faith formation with exercise of good works, service to the Church and to the community.  Only by striving to grow in virtues and in grace, can we ward off the temptations of the Evil One.
In the final analysis, to win in this spiritual warfare, we need to be united with Jesus and the Body of Christ, His Church.  As Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.”  To stay with Jesus requires that we stay with the Church as well.  Fighting the battle alone is putting ourselves at risk.  We must face the world with Jesus and His Church.  As Jesus reminded us, “Every kingdom divided against itself is heading for ruin, and a household divided against itself collapses.”  Indeed, being with Jesus and growing with the Church is the key to fight against the secularization of the world today.  The key to success in our mission is communion with Christ and with each other.
WRITTEN BY THE MOST REV WILLIAM GOH
ARCHBISHOP OF SINGAPORE
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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Entry filed under: Catechesis, Spiritual Warfare.

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