These next three Sundays before we begin the Lenten Season present some of the major themes in the mission of Christ in the Gospels, taken from the first chapter of Mark.
Today we see the fundamental message of the ongoing battle between good and evil. Our scripture professor in the seminary pointed out that today’s Gospel shows us the first two acts of Christ in his ministry, teaching and exorcising the man with the unclean spirit. The word and deed defined the major themes of his mission.
The exorcism at the very start of his mission is an emphatic message that the battle between good and evil lies at the heart of Christ’s mission.
Allow me to use the work of Fr. Horacio dela Costa, S.J. as our framework for reflection: “It is to know that one is a sinner, yet called to be a companion of Jesus… to engage, under the standard of the Cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for faith and that struggle for justice which it includes.”
Here we see three battlegrounds: the battle between good and evil in our self, in our relationship with God, and in our relationship with the world.
Food for thought
The two readings and the responsorial psalm give us much food for thought on the first two battlegrounds, our self and our relationship with God.
From Deuteronomy, Moses talks about God’s prophet and the false prophet. In the Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, he talks about the anxieties of the world and their resolution by “adherence to the Lord without distraction.”
In dramatic fashion, these battles are won, in the words of the psalm, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
Our interior struggle between the good and evil in us finds its resolution in the struggle of our relationship with God that is healed, made whole, and transformed into mission by our choice to commit and dedicate our self to God’s mission for us.
This was vividly portrayed in the climax scene of the movie “Ignacio de Loyola” when Ignatius is on the verge of attempting suicide. He overcomes the temptation by first becoming aware of the deceits of the evil spirit.
As I often tell people, half the battle is won when we are able to name our demons, giving us some freedom from them.
The battle between good and evil in our relationship with God is won in surrendering. It is not the surrender of the weak, but of the strong, a person who has healed and reintegrated. In this sense of wholeness, one encounters the holy. –CONTRIBUTED