Evil Spirits and Jesus
Gospel Reflection for Jan. 10, 2023: Mark 1:21-28
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
I have only twice experienced what I might call an evil spirit. Perhaps more, but definitely twice. Once was in a confrontational dialogue with a pro-abortionist online, where I was taking time between responses to pray that I would say only what I should, when suddenly I could not get the words of the Our Father to form within me, internally or externally. The effort to pronounce the words took every effort of my being. Then just as suddenly, the oppression ceased.
The second was while on a personal retreat, where in a dream while being pursued by evil spirits, I was prevented from saying the name of Jesus. When I went to say the prayer of St. Michael, the prayer card would disappear or the words would rearrange when spoken. Later on, that dream revealed a patron saint for my son, St. Benedict.
“You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet.” Ps. 8:7
I am not one for seeing the devil in everything and I also do not doubt the written witness of Christ addressing evil spirits and dismissing them. His authority is over both interpreting the faith passed on to us (“The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” Mk. 1:22) and over all the spiritual and physical realm, as demonstrated with the man with the unclean spirit. There is a balance to be sought in order to not be crazy in either extreme, always taking care to always trust that Jesus has overcome the enemy.
“In ‘subjecting’ all things to him, he left nothing not ‘subject to him.’” Heb. 2:8
In Thomas Aquina’s Catena, he quotes Pseudo-Jerome who says, “When salvation is near, temptation is at hand also…the devil, when despised, rises up to create scandals.”Our Gospel today illustrates this unclean spirit attempting to use the true name and identity of Jesus to control him, a way to avert the good work of God (and its own demise). I experienced situations where an evil spirit attempted to prevent the good work of God being done, but Christ has already won the victory.
As unsettling and frightening as these occurrences may be, Jesus shows us he has the authority and power to save. And all of humanity, each and every one of us, are worth suffering for and saving, as he has shown us by his cross and resurrection.
Question to ponder:
What prayer or what word from Scripture has helped you through spiritual attack?