Posts Tagged ‘Evil in the World’

“Whoever is Not With Me is Against Me”

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Thursday of the Third Week in Lent
Jer 7: 23-28; Luke 11: 14-23
Dc. Larry Brockman

Make no mistake about it, evil exists and is real. One of our greatest challenges as a Faith Community is to recognize evil in our world and hold firm against it.
This morning, we hear Jeremiah speaking to the Jewish people after over 1000 years of history following the Exodus event. In just these few words, Jeremiah summarizes all of that history.

Moses had acted as a Priest to set up a covenant between the people and the Lord God at the foot of Mt. Sanai when he delivered the Ten Commandments. These were the people the Lord had rescued from slavery and planned to deliver to the promised land, his own special people. God would assure that his people would flourish if they kept His commandments and loved their God with their hearts and minds and souls. That covenant was sealed by the blood of a sacrifice that Moses offered, a blood covenant. Moses warned them of consequences if they agreed to the covenant and then broke it. And so, Moses asked the people three times if they would abide by it. They all responded “yes”.

But despite a long and consistent history of prophets sent by God to his special people, prophets who constantly reminded the people of that covenant and warned about the consequences of breaking it, the people were not abiding by the blood covenant that God made with them. Why? Because of the evil that creeps into men’s hearts and takes possession of them.

That evil is characterized by three things- a failure to pass on the covenant to their children- either by laziness or indifference; preoccupation with things of the world, especially in times of prosperity- life is just too good; and selfishness, the tendency to put their individual interests ahead of the spirit and intent of the law.

And so, over the course of that thousand plus years of history, the Israelis did not obey the law of the Covenant, and fell victim to idolatry and grievous sin. The Old Testament shows cycles of up and down adherence to the covenant over the course of this history and speaks over and over of the Kings who “did evil in the sight of the Lord”. Over time divisions arose amongst the people, the tribes separated from each other, and that caused the Israelis to lose their national identity. Finally, the kings were powerless and were overrun by stronger and more resolute adversaries. Evil had undermined the Israeli nation.

In Jesus’ time, evil was symbolized in several different ways. But today, our Gospel talks about evil through a man possessed by an evil spirit. We can see the division in the people within this Gospel. Some feel that casting such a demon out of a person could only be done by someone close to God. But cynical observers accuse Jesus of casting devils out by the prince of devils, Beelzebul. These self-serving folks didn’t want to acknowledge that someone who they didn’t want to listen to could be right; so they tried to turn his good deed into an evil one. Boy, does that sound familiar in today’s world! But Jesus makes it very clear that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. He shows that even Satan must keep his followers focused on that.

And so, the lesson for all of us today is clear. Evil exists, and we need to work together to recognize it and to counter it. We must be unified in our faith and then practice our faith to recognize evil and counter it.

Evil today feeds off divisions caused by things like moral relativism, pro-choice attitudes on life issues, and mistaking inaction for tolerance. Evil also feeds off of self-righteous clicks, greed, and over reactions. We can heal these divisions by all of us agreeing with the core beliefs of our faith.

These core beliefs are well represented in the teachings of the Church in the Catechism. The catechism guides us in what we believe and in how we should respond. But we have to believe in all of it. Yes, it’s the whole enchilada, or nothing.

Second, we need to cast out the modern demons in our world. We don’t cast these demons out by tolerating them. We have got to be proactive; stand up for our faith; and do whatever it takes to change the system. That includes voting, running for office, standing up before civil authorities and school officials when needed, and other forms of witnessing of our faith. It even means speaking up in discussions amongst our peers when they say things that are offensive to us.

Remember these words from today’s Gospel. They pretty well sum up Jesus’ attitude towards evil: “Whoever is not with me is against me”.