Over the past week, I have been blessed to experience a series of the spiritual mountain-top moments. God called forth a beautiful team of sisters from the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary to journey to our parish in Chanhassen, Minnesota and share a relic of and teachings from Saint John Paul II with our community. Day after day, I saw my elementary-aged children connect with the joy and beauty of these moments. My husband and I prayed at the relic, wedding rings united and hearts aligned as we asked for the intercession of JP II and the strength of Jesus for our marriage.
In looking at today’s readings, then, I encounter the polar opposite extreme of our faith in the true presence of evil which can infiltrate any of our lives. In Mark 1:21-28, Jesus performs an almost unbelievable miracle by casting an unclean spirit from a man in Capernaum. The man taunts and questions Jesus, even though he knows Jesus is the Lord.
Sometimes it is easy to close our eyes to the reality of evil in the world, but when we scrutinize our own sin and the whisper from society to be selfish or prioritize glamour, materialism, or pleasure above God, we must know that evil is present and our weak human nature, without God, can fall prey to it.
But here, in this Gospel, Jesus not only sees the evil but commands it to leave with great authority. This is the Good News for our culture, as we grow weary of “adulting” and always undertaking responsibility. In our lives, Jesus may not rebuke evil with a literal, loud vocalization, but he may whisper quietly, urgently, and consistently that we need to change our ways and seek good instead of giving in to earthly temptation. Jesus is our ultimate authority, and the presence of our conscience, be it internal or through an external force such as one who loves us, holds us accountable to keep trying to be our best selves, the beautiful selves God intended for us to be.
In this ordinary time of the Church, the swell of Christmas celebration has given way to a time to breathe and get back to work on cleansing ourselves for optimal holiness. As we see our weakness, let us ask God to replenish our hearts with strength. Let us take the step to seek God in reconciliation and begin again, again, ever again to resist evil temptation and work towards sainthood and selflessness.
May God bless you with a glimpse of beauty to sustain your faith in the journey.
About the Author:
Anne Carraux married her college sweetheart and together they embarked on a journey of raising four exuberant children in Chaska, MN. Writing mostly in prayer and to make sense of her journey, Anne hopes her words help readers keep looking toward God, especially when it comes to living joyfully with faith. When not potty training or doing stress-maintenance in group exercise, you might find Anne hanging out in the sunshine with a good book.
Photo courtesy of Father Rolf Tollefson. Used with permission. All rights reserved.