Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs) or White (Bishops)
Today we witnessed the exorcism conducted by Jesus our Lord on the possessed man of Gerasenes, and how even the evil spirits obeyed the Lord and feared His authority. In today’s readings, we listen about the concept of authority and power, and how mankind had interacted with these across time, with the story of the rebellion of Absalom, the son of David, and how Jesus cast out the demons from the man.
The authority of Jesus was clear. He was the Son of Most High God as the demons themselves proclaimed. He was the Word of God made flesh, incarnate into Man in Jesus through Mary His mother. The evil spirits, the Legion feared Him because they knew who He was, even if mankind could not recognise who He was.
The evil spirits feared Jesus as Lord not because He has wealth, influence, or power that denote greatness in our human eyes. The greatness of the Lord is not measured in terms of human power and glory. What is power and glory to us mankind have no meaning and are nothing before the Lord our God. Jesus Himself showed us all this through His own actions.
Jesus was great not just because He was already the Lord and Almighty God, but because in His actions He showed the perfection of God’s love and mercy to us all. He was great because even though He has power, majesty, and authority, He chose to come down and be our servant, that through His works, we may have new hope in Him, and as our Shepherd, He guided us through the narrow gates towards salvation.
As Jesus mentioned in His Last Supper with the disciples, that the true meaning of leadership is service. A leader must be the servant of the people whom he or she leads, and the power and authority that the leader has been given must not be misused. True authority does not equal oppressing others or destroying those whose ideas or views not necessarily in line with our own views and opinions.
The Lordship and authority of Jesus is one of humility and service, and He did not boast of His miracles and achievements, while mankind like us must have been tempted to glorify ourselves or seek praise and glory from others for what we have done, gaining credits for our works. The irony is that, it is always the devil and the evil spirits in league with him that clamoured to proclaim Him! Yes, such as the evil spirits that inhabited that man of Gerasenes.
The authority of Jesus in casting out the numerous demons, the Legion, from that man showed His power and sovereignty over all things, be it angel, man, or demons, and is a testimony clear enough for all of us today to hear. We are fortunate to be able to witness this testimony through the Holy Gospels written by the Holy Apostles, who witnessed what happened first hand on that day.
If we trust in the Lord and in His power, then we will have no need to worry, for our Lord will be with us and He will take care of us well, and He shows us how to live a good and faithful life. The contrast we can see in the first reading today, which is centred on the civil war in Israel, between king David, the faithful servant of God and his own son, Absalom.
Absalom as the oldest son of king David was driven by his youth and ambitions, and he aspired to be the king of Israel, even though his father was still the reigning king and the chosen one of the Lord. Absalom succumbed to the taste of power and human glory, and that doomed him, causing him to rise up in rebellion against his own father.
As the story would go, Absalom was defeated in that war, and he lost his life in the process. The example of Absalom and David in today’s reading showed the frail nature of human power and glory. Power and glory in human terms are just temporary. We cannot hope to depend on our human power, as if we depend on them as Absalom had done, then we shall fail.
In a way even king David also had a part of blame on himself in this matter. David as a king as was common among the kings of his time, had many wives and children. Having more wives and children was associated with power and glory, and the more wives and children one had, the more powerful and prestigious was one seen by their people and their neighbouring countries.
Trusting in human power and authority was what had made David, the faithful servant of God, to err in some occasions. First of which was his plot to kill Uriah after committing adultery with the latter’s wife, Bathsheba, despite Uriah’s great loyalty to him, and then David’s sin of wanting to count the number of the people of Israel and Judah, as if he revelled in the great glory God had given him and was immersed in a moment of self-glorification and self-praise.
And David met his troubles because of what he had done, be it the rebellions of his sons and their mischievous behaviours, or the disease and pestilence that swept across the land and killed many, as the sign of God’s displeasure. This is proof that trusting in human and worldly power does not bring us good. Rather than be proud of our own power, ability, and achievement, we should rather trust in the Lord and walk in His ways.
Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of two saints of the Church, that is of St. Blaise and St. Ansgar. St. Blaise was the well known patron for throat based diseases, which feast day usually saw the traditional blessing of the throats with two crossed candles. St. Blaise was a renowned physician who went around many places to heal peoples, often with miraculous results, and people flocked to him seeking the consolation of the flesh as well as the soul.
St. Blaise was a faithful follower of the Lord, and practiced his faith truthfully in the works that he had done, but when Christians were persecuted by the last persecution of Christians by Emperor Licinius of the Eastern Roman Empire, he was arrested by the governor of his province and subsequently was tortured and martyred for his faith in the Lord.
Meanwhile St. Ansgar was an Archbishop who lived in northern part of Germany during the late Dark Ages, and was renowned as the Apostle of the North, for his works of evangelisation, bringing the Good News of the Lord to many peoples in the northern Europe, where paganism still dominated most of the people. St. Ansgar tirelessly worked for the cause of the Lord and gained many converts, even baptising lords and kings of the pagans.
Despite his position in the Church, St. Ansgar did not have an easy work ahead of him. Often times many of his supporters withdrew their support from him, and St. Ansgar had to proceed with his missions with great difficulties. Yet, St. Ansgar persevered and he never complained. And the Lord gave him the help he needed through various sources, and he prevailed in his missions.
The examples of St. Blaise and St. Ansgar show that if we walk upright in the path of the Lord and if we remain faithful to Him and trust always in Him, then we have no need to fear at all about the work we are to do, our about our lives. God will care for us and He will protect us. He has all the power and authority, and no evil shall dare to approach us, for they know who they will be dealing with if they mess with us.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us today therefore put our trust in God, and keep our faith in Him strong, especially avoiding the bad influences of this world, taming our greed and desire, particularly for power, authority, and influence among many others, and seek only for the Lord. May our Lord therefore be with us, and guide us to walk upright at all times in His ways, that we may never again fall into sin. Amen.