Power of goodness
Just after midnight, a group of confused youngsters knocked on our parish rectory bringing a young woman to be prayed-over. They claimed she was possessed. She was shouting, asking them to let her go when they arrived. But the smell of liquor on the group made me doubt their claim.
Nevertheless, we prayed over her then called up the ambulance for medical help.
Demonic possession can happen in some instances. In his new apostolic exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate” (Rejoice and Be glad), Pope Francis writes: “we should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea. This mistake would leave us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up vulnerable.. He does not need to possess us. He poisons us with the venom of hatred, desolation, envy and vice.”
In today’s gospel (Mk 3:20-35), Jesus teaches us that sin and evil must be confronted. His ministry was meant to overcome the influence of evil.
Indeed, the reality of sin and evil are too obvious to ignore. The Book of Genesis describes its origin. It spreads and permeates in every facet of human experience. Again Pope Francis notes “the path to holiness does not involve wrestling with some abstract boogeyman, but involves a constant struggle against the devil, the prince of evil.”
Lest we forget our fundamental calling as Catholics, Pope Francis attempts “to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time” through his letter. He reminds us that every page of scriptures challenges us “to be holy and blames before him.” In truth, God wants us to be saints and not to settle for mediocre existence. We also need each other and our collective effort in this quest of following Jesus.
Saints are not only those beatified and canonized. They can also be found in our “next-door neighbors” who reflect God’s presence: in parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. “Holiness is the most attractive face of the Church,” says Pope Francis. Holiness is for everyone, not just for priest and religious.
“We are called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.” True holiness is reflecting the portrait of the Master in us especially by practicing the ways of the beatitudes: practicing mercy, reacting with humility, forgiving, thirsting for righteousness, sowing peace – these are practical forms of holiness we can do today.
Realizing that life is a spiritual combat, holiness is allowing the Holy Spirit to fill us with his power in order to help us fight our weaknesses, our sinfulness, our complacency and our pride. It is our willingness to go against the flow in order to embrace the power of goodness.
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