Thoughts To Live By…

Archive for January 2009

Mk 1:21-28 – The Cure of the Demoniac
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 1, 2009

If one admits the existence of the devil, one must also admit the possibility of diabolical activity in our world. Diabolical possession is a tangible proof of the existence of the devil and a visible manifestation of his power.

This is not something in the realm of possibility; it is a fact. There are seven incidents in the Gospel that deal with diabolical possession. Three of them are passing references to exorcisms (Mt 8:32-33, 12:22; Mk 16:9; Lk 8:2). The remaining four are described in greater detail: the demoniac of Capernaum (Mk 1:21-28; Lk 4:31-37); the demoniacs of Gadara (Mt 8:28-34; Mk 5:1-20; Lk 8:26-29); the daughter of the Canaanite woman (Mt 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-30); and the epileptic demoniac (Mt 17:14-20; Mk 9:13-28; Lk 9:37-43).

In the time of Christ, there was a great deal of diabolical infestation, perhaps more than at any other time in history; conversely, there were numerous charismatic gifts at the beginning of Christian evangelization.

Diabolical activity can be divided into two types: ordinary and extraordinary. Ordinary diabolical activity occurs when the devil incites a person to sin. Extraordinary diabolical activity is divided into three types: local infestation, diabolical obsession, and diabolical possession.

Local infestation occurs when the devil has direct and immediate contact with inanimate objects, plants, or animals in order to exert an evil influence or even physical harm on persons.

Diabolical obsession (also called personal infestation) occurs when the devil focuses his power and activity on an individual human being. He operates from the outside, on the external or internal sense faculties, but he can never gain control of the intellect and will of the individual.

Diabolical possession occurs when the devil invades the body of a person and exercises despotic dominion over the organs and faculties of the individual, manipulating them as one would a puppet. His dominion, however, is restricted to the body; he cannot invade the soul or gain control over the spiritual faculties of intellect and will. Two factors are involved in diabolical possession: the presence of the devil in the body of a human being and the exercise of diabolical power. Possession by the devil is openly manifested during the periods of crisis. There will be seizures and convulsions, blasphemy, obscene words or actions, fits of anger or irreverence. The victims usually are not conscious of what they are doing, and they have no recollection when they come out of the period of crisis.

The Roman Ritual, first published in 1614, stated that if a person exhibited a hatred and aversion to the sacred as well as certain specified symptoms, those phenomena were “indicative” of diabolical possession. The three requisite symptoms were: to speak or understand a previously unknown language (glossolalia), to identify objects at a great distance or hidden from view, and to exhibit strength far beyond the age or condition of the individual (see Russell Shaw, Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine as reference for above data).

In today’s gospel about the healing of the  demoniac, however, Jesus is presented to have power even to the supernatural world. In a similar story, he could even expel demons from the two  possessed men who had superhuman strength, self-destructive and dangerous that no one could travel by the road where they lived [Mt 8:28] and no one could bind these men possessed by 6000 demons with success.

In contrast to the people of Nazareth who earlier rejects Jesus, the people of Capernaum recognize his power to drive out demons. He has no need to resort to unusual methods in driving out unclean spirits. He has but to speak with authority and they come out. Leaving the victim unharmed. The Jews were spellbound to hear Jesus speaking with authority unlike the Pharisees and the scribes that even the evil spirits at Jesus’ commands obey him.

Indeed Jesus is the fulfillment of the Messianic prophesy. Jesus, the  Messiah, who has been sent to proclaim liberty to the captives and  release to the prisoners  [Is 61:1; Lk 4:18] also frees those who are oppressed by the demons. Pray to Jesus that he will set us free us from our slavery to sin and from the dominion and oppression of Satan and the evil ones.

“Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Pet. 5:6-10).

Picture: Jupiter Images

Alternative Homily:

FROM 1996 to 2007, manager Joe Torre led the New York Yankees to the playoffs every year—winning an astounding 17 series in the post-season. Over those same 12 years, the Los Angeles Dodgers did not win a single playoff series.

This past season, Torre departed New York to coach the Dodgers. The result? The Dodgers won their first post-season series in 20 years, while the Yankees missed the playoffs altogether.

Ask Yankees and Dodgers fans, and they will tell you that Joe Torre’s leadership matters. However, they may not be able to tell you exactly why Joe Torre is an excellent leader. What’s true of the fans in New York and Los Angeles is true for many of us. We experience the effects of leadership without understanding the cause.

In this article, I hope to make plain why the best leaders are the best leaders. In a nutshell, remarkable leaders give their best to their people, and get the best from their people. Let’s look at how this happens.

The best leaders give their best to their people by …

1) Growing

People naturally follow leaders they respect as being more advanced than they are. For this reason, personal growth is directly proportional to influence. If you desire to gain followers, then pay the price of getting better.

To give people your best, you have to elevate your leadership capacity. Consider the metaphor of walking up a narrow staircase—you can only go as fast as the person in front of you. When leaders stop growing, they quit climbing and impede the progress of everyone following them. However, when leaders grow, they ascend the stairs and create space for those behind them to climb higher.

Personal growth involves challenging yourself, and pushing beyond the realm of comfort. When was the last time you did something for the first time? How long has it been since you felt in over your head?

2) Serving

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
– Albert Einstein

Serving others is an attitude issue. Unfortunately, many leaders operate under a king-of-the-hill mentality. They attempt to pull down anyone above them in order to secure the top spot for themselves. In doing so, they clutch at power, grapple for control of company resources, and strive to dominate others. Seeing relationships as win-lose propositions, they ultimately burn bridges and isolate themselves.

The best leaders take an entirely different approach. Rather than dragging down anyone who threatens their position, they extend a hand to lift the performance of teammates and coworkers. They function with a mindset of abundance as opposed to an attitude of scarcity, and they wield their influence to prop others up rather than to elevate themselves. Over time, they are honored for the contributions they have made to the lives around them.

All leaders serve. Sadly, some serve only themselves. Serving is a motives issue, and the crux of the matter boils down to a simple question: “Who?” Does a politician serve the public or his pocketbook? Does a CEO serve to benefit her shareholders or to support her lifestyle? The best leaders set a tone by serving and prove they are deserving of being out in front.

3) Modeling

Growing leaders have something to share; serving leaders have something to give; modeling leaders have something to show. As VJ Featherstone said, “Leaders tell, but never teach, until they practice what they preach.” The best leaders embody their values. Their passion exudes from every pore and demands respect.

The best leaders get the best from their people by …

1) Listening

The smartest leaders realize the limitations of their wisdom, and they listen to their people in order to capture invaluable insights. However, leaders don’t just listen to gain knowledge, they also listen to give their people permission: Permission to challenge the process, permission to test assumptions; and permission to take risks. Nothing turns off an up-and-coming leader like the deaf ear of a superior. The best leaders don’t simply listen to incoming ideas; they proactively draw them out of their people. They listen actively, not passively.

2) Relating

Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand. To touch a heart, a leader has to be open to disclosing his or her identity by sharing personal stories and owning up to professional weaknesses. Mysterious or aloof leaders may be successful decision-makers, but they won’t get the heartfelt loyalty that comes from authentic relationships.

As simple as it sounds, making a person feel known correlates powerfully to their job satisfaction. In fact, Patrick Lencioni lists anonymity as one of the top indicators of a miserable job. Leaders dignify their people by studying their interests, learning about their families, and finding out their hobbies. Conscious of the power of connection, the best leaders refuse to be barricaded inside of an office, and they take responsibility for relating with others on a regular basis.

3) Teaching

Gifted teachers have a way of making students out of disinterested bystanders. The best leaders have an infectious thirst for knowledge, and they take pride in cultivating knowledge of their craft and awareness of their industry. A leader’s teaching ability depends upon ongoing personal growth. As Howard Hendricks said, “If you stop growing today, you stop teaching tomorrow.”

4) Developing

The best leaders understand the differences between training people for tasks and developing people to be better leaders.

The best leaders view their people as appreciable assets and prioritize investing in the talent on their teams.

5) Motivating

After one of my presentations, an audience member approached me who was visibly indignant about my speech. “Why is motivation last on the list?” he demanded. “Well,” I replied, “because if you listen, relate, teach, and develop your people, then they will be motivated!”

Sustained motivation comes by creating the right environment for your people and by doing the right things consistently to nurture them. Consider a flower. It cannot grow in the Arctic; it requires a climate conducive to growth. Yet, even in the right environment, the flower must be planted in hospitable soil, exposed to sunlight, watered and freed of weeds.

Review

The best leaders give their best to their people by …
1. Growing, 2. Serving, 3. Modeling

The best leaders get the best from their people by …
1. Listening 2. Relating 3. Teaching 4. Developing 5. Motivating

Author:  John C. Maxwell
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer
Picture: http://www.lifeisajoke.com

The Philippines has made it to this year’s “Guinness Book of World Records” for having the most number of recorded murders based on United Nations data in 2004, an election year.

Sen. Richard Gordon revealed yesterday the country’s inclusion in the widely published records list and expressed concern that it might further tarnish the country’s image.

“We should shudder at this world record because it shows that the best legacy our generation will leave behind is our reputation for succeeding at killing people rather than making our country safe,” Gordon said in a statement.

The Guinness record was based on 2004 United Nations data that placed recorded killings in the country at 3,515.  Full Story

Even the dead have to follow environmental standards.

Expressing concern about the potential pollution and danger posed by waste from facilities catering to the dead, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now requiring crematoria, cemeteries and funeral parlors to secure an   environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the government.

“Crematoria involve the burning process. Funeral parlors make use of formaldehyde. So because of the hazardousness of wastes coming from these establishments, we have amended the AO to upgrade the classification of these business establishments and require an environmental impact statement,” Atienza pointed out.  Full Story

Motel ‘short time’ stays, says SC. Motels in Manila and their patrons have reason to celebrate two weeks before Valentine’s Day. The Supreme Court yesterday declared as unconstitutional a Manila city ordinance banning “short time” admission in motels, saying it violates the rights of both motel operators and their clients – especially married couples.   Full Story


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