Thoughts To Live By…

Posts Tagged ‘Sunday Gospel Homily or Sermon

Mk 1:12-15 – The Temptation of Jesus
Sunday Gospel Reflection

The longing and  desire for heaven  or the single indestructible longing for God, for an eternity spent in intimate, blessed communion with him is the deepest desire of human heart. Heaven is “the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (CCC 1024). This is always what we pray for, what we strive for, what we hope for. But there were and will always be temptations, trials and tests on the way that will prevent us, hinder us and steal away from us the heaven that we long for.

The Gospel for today tells of Jesus’ retreat and temptation in the desert and the beginning of his preaching of God’s good news. Today’s Gospel simply tells of Satan tempting Jesus. But Jesus passed the test and overcame the test and temptation.

What is temptation? A temptation is anything than inclines a person to commit sin. It is enticement to evil, seduction to sin and death. Though it is not a sin it is more than trial or test because it lead us to sin. Once we enter into, give in to and submit to, temptation we are already committing sin which will bring us alienation, corruption, death and ultimately hell where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

What distinguishes temptation from trial? Trials or tests are necessary for growth while temptations incline us to sin. “No one who is tempted is free to say, “I am being tempted by God.” Surely God, who is beyond the grasp of evil, tempts no one” (Jas 1:13). God tests the heart puts his own in trial (1Th 2, 4) while only Satan tempts them (Lk 22,37; Ap 2, 10; 12,9). Trial is indispensable condition for growth (cf. Lk 8, 13ff), for sturdiness (1 P 1, 6f), for the manifestation of the truth (1 Co 11, 9: the reason for Christian divisions) and humility (1 Co 10, 12). When we overcome trials, temptations we are proven to be steady and strong (subok na matatag at subok na matibay. Thus freed, tried and tested Christian knows how to discern, verify and “try” everything (R 12, 2; E 5, 10). Trial is therefore the condition of the Church which is still to be tested, although she is already pure; stll to be reformed, although she is already glorious.

St. Paul assures us that “God will not let you be tested beyond your strength. Along with the test he will give you a way out of it so that you may be able to endure it” ( 1 Cor 10:13; cf. CCC 2848). In fact St. Paul wrote that we should even boast of our tests/afflictions, knowing that afflictions produce endurance, and endurance, proven virtue (cf. Rom 5:3-5; CCC 2897).

Sources of temptations:

  • Some temptations arise from within ourselves. “The tug and lure of his own passion has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches maturity it begets death” (cf. Jas 1:14).
    • Our passions and emotions incline us to long for attractive gratifications even through doing acts we know are evil.
    • Pride incline us to sin.
    • Imperfection of our very nature are sources of sin more particularly concupiscence and bad habits or vices.
  • We also experience temptations from the world. Persons, places and things can be occasion of sins to us. Even things good in themselves can be incitements in us to seek the attractive goods in unreasonable ways.
  • Faith also recognizes Satan, once an angel, but now hostile to God and to us, as one source of temptation. In his hatred for God, he seeks to drive us toward sinful and self-destructive choices (CCC 394-395).

Consequence of being tempted: slavery to sin, alienation and separation, death and ultimately hell where Satan dwells and where Satan reigns and where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth because of it unquenchable fire.

How do we handle with temptations?

  • Avoid temptations and keep yourself busy. Idleness is the workshop of the devil.
  • Resistance, faith and vigilance. Stay sober and alert because your enemy the Devil is like a prowling lion, waiting for someone to devour. Resist him and solid in your faith.
  • Prayer. In communion with their master, the disciples’ prayer is a battle; “only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation” ( cf. Lk 22:40, 46). “Pray that he will not let you be tested beyond your strength” (cf. 1 Cor 10:13). Pray that the Father “lead us not into temptations and allow us to be overcome by it (cf. CCC 2846). Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy…Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.
  • Repentance and conversion. Always return to the Lord with fasting, weeping and mourning. For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness and relenting in punishment.
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Always seek in everything the will of God. Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.

Temptations are not themselves sins and no one entirely escape temptation. Hence, be vigilant and pray that God our Father may “lead us not into temptation” or allow us to be overcome by it and “seek it with all our hearts His sufficient grace to overcome temptation and to remain faithful to God (cf. CCC 2848).

Picture: http://www.padrebergamaschi.com/Pets/images/Temptation.jpg

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

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