“I Have Come to Cast Out the Prince of this World”
In today’s Gospel Our Lord has been healing and casting out demons, and it is evident from His words that there are two kingdoms: the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of God. But with the coming of Our Lord, the kingdom of Satan is coming to an end. After all, Our Lord is the seed of the woman (Mary) who has come to crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Our Lord also reveals that He has come not only to punish the devil, but to free those who are bound by him. He casts out demons simply by His word or by His touch, and He forgives sins, freeing us from bondage to Satan and evil. But be under no illusion – Satan is real – he is the leader of the fallen angels who rebelled against God, and we are under constant attack.
But never be afraid, because with Our Lord on our side, the devil and his army can never really harm us, but they will certainly try to. In the words of St Peter, “the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Genuine demonic possession, where a demon can take hold of someone’s body, is very rare. However, dabbling with the occult, consulting fortune tellers or mediums or using Ouija boards can open the door to evil, and for this reason is forbidden by the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2116) – so we should NEVER, EVER have anything to do with these things. They are very dangerous. Neither is there such a thing as “white” magic. All of these things have an evil origin, even if those involved don’t realise it.
However, the normal way we are attacked is through temptation. Being fallen creatures, we are attracted by our base instincts of pride, greed, lust, anger, envy, sloth and gluttony (the Seven Deadly Sins). So we have to, with God’s help and prayer, try to form the virtues in our lives which are the opposite of vice. But we will be tempted to choose what is bad for us. This is what happened in the Garden of Eden. The devil tempted Adam and Eve by lying to them, telling them that if they disobeyed God, they would become like God. Our Lord didn’t call Satan the “father of lies” for nothing! The way to protect ourselves is through prayer, confession and Holy Communion.
We must pray to always choose God’s Will. Try to put bad thoughts out of your mind. It may be a battle, but every time we resist for the love of God, we grow in grace and virtue. And never despair. Remember, God showed His infinite love for us by dying on the Cross to save us. He will never let us down if we call upon Him.
Fr Paul Gillham IC