Jesus healed the evil-possessed man in today’s Gospel reading, and He showed that He has the authority over all, even over all the evil spirits. These evil spirits are actually once holy angels who served the Lord in Heaven. This is why they perfectly know who Jesus is when they see Him, even when He appear in human form. No demon will not tremble before the presence of the Lord, not even Lucifer, the leader of the angelic rebellion against God, who we now know as the great evil, or Satan. It is because of their rebellion against God, and man’s weakness that led to the fall of Adam and Eve to the temptation of the evil one.
Just like the man who was possessed by the evil spirits, all of us also have evil in ourselves, and we are chained and constrained by this evil that also ‘possess’ us the way it possessed the man. But the Lord is truly merciful, and never are we forgotten by Him who love us with all of His heart. God listened to our prayers and pleas for mercy, but especially only if we are truly sorry and repentant from our sinful ways. Only if we humbly ask Him for forgiveness, He will justify us and welcome us back into His loving embrace.
Those who are proud and refuse to reject their sins, and refuse to ask God for His mercy, are those whom God rejects, and to have no part in His inheritance. Pride is the greatest of all sins, as it cause our hearts to be hardened against God, and perpetuate our rebellion from God’s love. Such pride brought down Lucifer, who was the brightest and mightiest of all angels created by God. Such is his beauty that in his vanity he, as told in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, tried to make himself equal to God, and there came his fall. He brought down with him many of the angels of heaven, who followed him in his pride and rebellious ways. These are the evil spirits that possessed the man, legion they were called because they were many.
But Jesus wanted to show us that, not even these evil spirits, mighty as they are, have permanent hold on us. And that not even the greatest sinners are without hope. Why does the evil spirits fear Jesus? Because they know that He, as the Son of God, God Himself, has authority over all, including themselves. It is in Christ that they met their greatest undoing. For ultimately, Christ’s Sacrifice for us on the cross deliver us forever from their hands, and by His act in becoming the bridge between us and God, we have hope of life eternal in Him, while they languish in darkness and hell, for their rebellion against God, which inadvertantly brought mankind down with them.
We humans are weak in flesh, and many are also weak in the Spirit. Nevertheless, just as it was in the past with the heroes, the judges, and the king David himself, if we believe in God, and put our trust in Him, He can grant us strength to persevere and do things that we normally would not be able to do. While these heroes of Israel fought physical warfare against the enemies of Israel who were bound to destroy the people of God, in our present day world, we are involved in spiritual warfare against evil and sin.
Many of our fellow brethren are still under the thrall of evil and chained by the slavery of sin. We, who are already freed by God from the subjugation under evil through baptism in Him, therefore should do our part to help these brethren of ours, to bring them out of darkness, back into the light. Our priests and missionaries are involved in the great mission on the spreading of the Good News of the Lord, but this does not mean that we cannot have a part to play in this mission. We have all been called to the mission when we were baptised, which is to spread the Good News to all peoples, and to baptise them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It will not be easy to bring God to all peoples, as mentioned in the first reading, that there would be great persecution against those who believe in Christ. Many would have to face even death in defending their faith. This had happened during the early years of the Church, when the pagan Roman Empire tried to crush Christianity through numerous and intense persecutions. But persecution did not end that day, as even in our modern world, we also have a different kind of persecution. Christians today are ridiculed for their faith, especially by those who do not believe in God and His love. Those who, like Lucifer, believed fully in their own greatness and ability, as surpassing those of the Lord, and many believe that they do not need God, and assert that we, who believe in Him, are backward and superstitious.
However, let us not be confrontational, but instead approach them with love. Just like Christ, who with His great love purged the evil spirit out of the possessed man, we can also bring God’s love to those in our world that is spiritually hungry and empty of God’s divine love. Let us embrace them and show that God is Love, and in God only, we can find true peace and fulfillment. Let us pray for one another, that our faith will be strong, and we will be given great courage, to be able to deliver the Good News of our Lord to all peoples. May God bless us all, and bless our holy Church in our mission. Amen.