Fourth Sunday of Year – B

Many years ago when I worked in Germany,  I met a politician who was appointed as the high commissionar of the United Nations for refugees.  He was a man who did not believe in the devil,  but he said publicly, once he received that appointment,  that he saw so much evil, hatred,  injustice, violence,  and abuse, that  he was convinced of the presence of the devil in the world. He did not see the devil but he saw his devastating work. When I was studying in Rome in the 70’s, Pope Paul VI wrote an article saying that the devil exists;  I was very surprised at the criticism that the Pope received in the media saying that he had resuscitated an old myth. Sacred Scripture tells us that there are evil spirits at work in our world. In our gospel today we read about the healing of the man with an unclean spirit, this is the  first public work of Jesus’ ministry.  As soon as Jesus begins to teach in the synagogue, the people were amazed. His listeners can sense this authority, not only do his words have the power to move people; they can actually make things happen. A man with an unclean spirit is sitting in the synagogue and as soon as he hears Jesus teaching, the man interrupts him and begins to shriek and shout. The unclean spirit knows who Jesus is and is afraid. Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and immediately the unclean spirit disappears. Jesus is the messenger of  goodness, truth and love;  the evil spirit represents lies, criticism, negativity, etc., they cannot  be in each others presence.  One has to go.  That is why Jesus says be silent and leave.  We often notice the implications of evil spirits in our own lives,  our own inclinations to laziness, dishonesty, pride, vanity,  envy and anger, and speaking ill of others.  Like the high commissionaire, we cannot see the devil but we notice his presence,  when we hear the voices of despair and anxiety, when we hear the voices telling us that it is not necessary to go to mass but we can watch it on the webcam, when we hear the voices to lie, to speak ill of others, we know  that this is not my guardian angel,  this is someone else. So  in our spiritual life we all recognise these spiritual demons,  that will try to discourage us from doing good, we must recognise them call them by name,  and say with Jesus be silent and leave. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.