February 20, 2023
Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today
As Jesus came down from the mountain with Peter, James, John and approached the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. Mark 9:14
This line, from the beginning of today’s Gospel, reveals a transition from an experience of incredible glory to one that is very sad. On the mountain, Jesus was transfigured before three of His disciples, and a small glimpse of His divine essence was revealed to them. The three disciples were overwhelmed with joy and amazement. But as they came down the mountain, they immediately encountered an argument between the scribes and the people.
The argument had to do with a man who brought his son to Jesus’ disciples for healing. The boy had been possessed by a mute and deaf spirit from childhood, and the disciples were unable to cast the demon out. What’s more, the scribes appear to be critical of the whole situation, and the father appears to lack faith. Jesus’ response to them all was, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to me.” After the boy was brought to Jesus, Jesus did two things for the boy. First, He commanded the demon to “come out of him.” Second, He told the demon to “never enter him again.”
Though there is much we can learn from this passage, it’s worth pondering this twofold command of Jesus. Certainly, to set the boy free from the possession of this demon was significant and life-changing. But this act of mercy would have ultimately ended in tragedy if the demon were to reenter the boy after Jesus left. Therefore, the second command, forbidding the demon to ever enter him again, is also an act of great mercy.
One thing this should teach us is that overcoming evil is not enough. This is because the temptations and oppressions that come from the legion of fallen angels are continuous and relentless. It often happens that once a person finds freedom from some diabolical influence and from some sin, they later fall back into that sin as they become lax. Therefore, we must always remember that once we overcome some sin, temptation or oppression, we must perpetually remain vigilant so that we do not fall back into these evils. Ongoing vigilance is essential if we are to remain firmly grounded on the road to virtue and holiness.
Reflect, today, upon any temptation you have endured and overcome, only to later fall into it again. Reflect, especially, upon the importance of the vigilance that is necessary so as to not only refrain from returning to your former sins but to also move forward in holiness and virtue. The evil one never relents, but God is even more relentless in His compassion and grace. Keep moving forward in the spiritual life so that you never slip and fall back into previous sin.
Most glorious Lord, I turn to You in confidence and beg that You not only free me from the sins with which I struggle, but that You also keep me from ever turning back to them once I am free. May I always move forward toward You and never become lax in my journey of faith. Jesus, I trust in You.
Featured image above: Cast out Satan, via flickr