Homily for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
This Sunday’s liturgy brings our attention to the greatest battle of all: the battle between good and evil.
The first reading from the Book of Genesis sets the stage for this Sunday’s intense gospel narrative. The first book of the Bible reveals to us the existence of Satan, the fallen angel Lucifer: “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it” (Genesis 3: 13).
Further references to Satan appear throughout the Scriptures. Three examples are the following:
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says: “I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10: 18).
In the Gospel of John, Jesus calls Satan the father of lies (John 8: 44).
Saint Peter exhorts: “Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith” (1 Peter 5: 8 – 9).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church helps us to understand the reality of Satan with these words: “The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God’s reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and his kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries – of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature – to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but we know that in everything God works for Good with those who love him” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 395).
Looking back, Pope Paul VI (1963 – 1978), who was widely ridiculed when he famously warned that the smoke of Satan had entered through the cracks of the Church.
At a 1972 Wednesday General Audience he said: “So we know that this dark disturbing being exists and that he is still at work with his treacherous cunning; he is the hidden enemy who sows errors and misfortunes in human history. It is worth recalling the revealing Gospel parable of the good seed and the cockle, for it synthesizes and explains the lack of logic that seems to preside over our contradictory experiences: ‘An enemy has done this.’ He is ‘a murderer from the beginning, and the father of lies,’ as Christ defines him.
He undermines man’s moral equilibrium with his sophistry. He is the malign, clever seducer who knows how to make his way into us through the senses, the imagination and the libido, through utopian logic, or through disordered social contacts in the give and take of our activities. He can bring about in us deviations that are all the more harmful because they seem to conform to our physical or mental makeup, or to our profound, instinctive aspirations.”
My dear friends, Satan has convinced the world that he does not exist. He has lied to the world that there is no sin. He continues to dupe everyone into believing that everyone is going to Heaven.
Satan is not only the father of lies, he is a lie.
What then are we to do about all of this? How can we be faithful disciples of Jesus and not be overcome by the evil of Satan?
First, we must be completely convinced of the ultimate victory of our Savior, Jesus Christ. “For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but top what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4: 17 – 18).
We must persevere. Do not allow discouragement to overcome you.
Secondly, we must stay connected with Jesus. Left to our own resources, our fallen human nature cannot resist evil. Daily, structured and organized moments of prayer are essential if we are to survive.
As our physical immune system needs to be well nourished to resist disease, so too does our spiritual immune system need daily sustenance.
Daily Mass, daily meditation on the Scriptures, daily recitation of the Rosary, frequent Confession and the solitude of Eucharistic adoration are the preferred moments that provide health and strength to anyone who desires to continue the good fight.
Thirdly, your family life needs to be strong. Get back to basics: order, discipline, have dinner together, limit all the crazy activities, build up a healthy emotional life by building up a healthy social life. If there is peace and happiness in your family life, it will be very difficult for Satan to attack your home.
Added to a strong family life, it is important to have a least one good friend. Isolation and loneliness allows us to be targets of Satan.
It is impossible for Satan to pick off someone who is happy.
Fourthly, be very, very careful about the use of the TV and the Internet. Pornography is a very serious and common addiction.
Finally, get back to the regular use of the Sacrament of Confession. This is your greatest weapon against Satan. Find a good confessor and seek his advice and direction.
Don’t play with sin.
In this Sunday’s gospel passage, Jesus talks about the sin against the Holy Spirit with these words: “Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness but is guilty of an everlasting sin” (Mark 3: 28-30).
The sin against the Holy Spirit is the sin of unrepentance. This is the sin of the person who refuses to change. This is the sin of the person who shuts out God from his or her life.
My dear friends, use these proven methods against the attack of Satan. They work.