The Manifestation of the Demonic in Massachusetts
By Fr. Robert J. Carr
Homily for the First Sunday in Lent Year B
This very short gospel has a great amount to say to us. Again this is from Mark, so it is short and pithy. Mark supplies us the bones and we have to add the flesh. It is for this reason that every word counts in Mark.
Begin by noting that Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert to encounter temptation. It is the Holy Spirit that leads him to the demonic, despite appearances to the contrary. Further, notice he was also among wild beasts. Mark does not say whether they were friendly or not. However, if you think of being in this position yourself, and I have lived as a hermit in the American high desert, you are alone and you hear the coyote off in the distance. You can feel a bit unnerved.
Then notice something really important, once those forty days are up, Jesus begins his ministry. So you can divide this pithy message into three parts: A) Jesus being led into the desert. B) Jesus being tempted by the Devil in the desert and C) Jesus begins his ministry. Now let us add the flesh.
MATTHEW SHOWS WHAT MARK DOES NOT
Matthew in his gospel gives an account of Jesus in the desert, where Mark does not. Matthew shows that the Devil is offering Jesus many things and Jesus refutes them citing scripture. Look very carefully at this, because you deal with this every day. Scripture is the wisdom of God. When you know and understand scripture and you guide your life by it, you are guided not by simple words on paper, but by God himself.
If you look at the work of the Devil, he always tries to distort Godís creation. The Devil is cunning and if you are not wise enough to match his cunning abilities, he will talk circles around you.
We know from Matthew that the Devil was able to tempt Jesus. However, he was never successful because although his arguments were good they were not good enough. Jesus knew a greater wisdom.
DEVIL'S CALLING CARD: MORAL AMBIGUITY
I said on Ash Wednesday that a Deacon in the Church, actually he teaches at a Seminary, pointed out to me that one of the signs of the Demonic is moral ambiguity. The light of reason turns dark and there is a loss of a sense of right and wrong. I also pointed out that this reality describes well the current state of affairs in Massachusetts.
The Devil takes reason and twists it into confusion. If you have no wisdom to guide your reason, you will end up seriously confused. I was talking to a parishioner in the Archdiocese and she said to me, Look around you. "Male is female and female is male a complete distortion of creation." Right is wrong and wrong is right. Black is white and white is black. Do not think for one minute you are not dealing with manifestations of the Demonic.
The Spirit leads Jesus to the Devil for his temptation. The Devilís evil intentions further enable Jesus to define for himself his own mission and ministry. We define ourselves by our choices and Jesus continually chooses against the Devil and for the Father. He gives us the example to do the same.
Now the question is why? Jesus begins his ministry after his time in the desert. He begins to proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand. The minute he spoke his first word you can imagine a huge digital clock beginning to countdown from 40 years to 0. The nation of Israel to whom he is speaking has only forty years of existence left and nobody knows but Our Lord. It is like they are all on the Titanic and it has just left port. Jesus is warning people to know where their life preservers are. He does not say why. However, He alone knows about the forthcoming iceberg and sinking.
Jesus, however, is not preaching to scare people. He is preaching to begin his role of separating the wheat from the tare. He is dividing the faithful from those just going through the motions. He is dividing the true disciple from the one giving lip service.
We too are beginning to encounter clear signs of the demonic. Here in Somerville, how many Catholic schools are closed. One parish and three schools at last count. Yet, we just opened up here a Planned Parenthood Office. If you have read the Somerville newspapers then you saw the picture of the politicians including graduates of Catholic schools attending a ribbon cutting ceremony for a place that roots itself in destroying human life.
That which imparts Godís wisdom is closing and that which imparts the Devilís destruction is opening. Good is Bad and Bad is Good. True is false and false is true. Man is woman and woman is man. The Devil is alive and living in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Yet, Jesusí encounter with the Devil was there to strengthen his resolve and his mission. So it is with us. You are now at a time in which you have to make a choice everyday. ...
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