4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Dt 18:15-20 / PS 95:1-2,6-7,7-9 / 1 Cor 7:32-35 / Mk 1:21-28

     In last week’s gospel we heard Jesus proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand. As I meditated on that reality I concluded my homily by pointing out that the Catholic Church is a sleeping giant who has the power to change the world and I asked the rhetorical question what would the world look like if we, as Catholics, woke up. My brothers and sisters we have no choice but to wake up. Open the newspaper, turn on the evening news, click on the internet; regardless of where we find our news we find the news of murder on our streets, the beheading of countless Christians in the Middle East, the increase of poverty and the rapid spread of evil throughout our world. Looking around the world today it can be easy for us to ask where is the prophet that the author of today’s first reading promised God would raise up. Yet amidst that temptation we know that his prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and so we must hear His voice and harden not our hearts.

     Today’s Gospel gives witness to what happens when pure evil confronts one who is holy and good; the evil is driven out. We see in today’s gospel that evil cannot be in God’s presence so in the face of growing evil we need to bring God’s presence to the world. “The more visible and powerful holiness becomes, the less the devil can conceal himself.”[1] If we want to see peace on earth we must be the instruments of change, it must begin with us, we must bring Jesus, who comes to destroy the works of Satan and free us from sin, out of this church and into the world.

     While much of our pop culture presents us with cosmic battles between good and evil, this simply is not the case. Evil is nothing more than a lack of the good and as soon as goodness enters the good always wins. Evil is simply an absence of the good just as dark is the absence of light; and just as the moment light enters into a dark room, the darkness ceases to exist, so too the moment good enters into evil, the evil ceases to exist.

     In order to bring Jesus out of this church and into the world we must begin by looking inward at ourselves. We must ask ourselves, where am I ruled by sin, where do I excuse myself from God’s way, the teachings of the Church; in short where do I excuse myself from living in conformity with the truth? The results of this daily act of examination should not cause us to fear for “when man steps into the light of Jesus Christ, the devil is convicted and can thus be conquered.”[2] We have no reason to fear when we step into the light of Christ because our God is merciful and in His great love for us He gives us the cleansing power of Christ’s blood in the Sacrament of Confession and the food of Immortality and Divine strength in the Most Holy Eucharist.

     My friends, only when our own hearts have been converted and strengthened can we be authentic witnesses to the truth of the Gospel. Only when we have a deep intimate relationship with our Lord can we go out and be Christ to others. Only after our hearts have been converted and strengthened by God can we lead others in our world out of darkness and the slavery of sin into the light of truth and freedom.

     “Man’s greatest evil is sin, since it leads directly to hell, and that, on earth, it leads to wars and revolutions.”[3] The root of the growing evil in our world is the growth of sin. If, we as members of the Body of Christ, are going to wake up and change the world, we must begin by first rooting sin out of our own hearts, then as we continue on the path of holiness, goodness will shine through our hearts and drive evil away. Since “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,”[4] we who have been called to be prophets to the nations must wake up, hear the cry of the Lord and bring Him into the world, for when He confronts evil, the devil recognizes defeat is at hand and is driven out.

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Recently a few people have asked a question about why I say there is no cosmic battle. Please find my response below. As always please feel free to email me any questions you still have. 

Dear X,

Thanks for the email. I’m assuming the questions surround the line “While much of our pop culture presents us with cosmic battles between good and evil, this simply is not the case.” While ‘spiritual warefare’ is a reality we must be very careful with our terms. To claim that there is an ongoing battle between good and evil in the cosmos is the heresy of dualism. Perhaps the most famous example of this heresy is that of Manichaeism, from which St. Augustine eventually converted out of. Another famous example of dualism is the Albegensian heresy, often called Cathars, which much of the inquisition in southern France was focused on and the Dominicans were commissioned to preach against. Both of these heresies at their core believe that God and the devil are battling for the world. This is simply not the case, the battle has been won in Christ.

While the battle for the cosmos has been won, the bottle for individual souls rages on. Certainly all of us face temptations, but we must remember that temptations in and of themselves are neither good nor evil, rather how we respond to them is good or evil. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear that all of us in virtue of being born with original sin, have inclinations towards evil which we call concupiscence which “summon him to spiritual battle” (CCC 405) Certainly there can be interior battles within ourselves as a result of this concupiscence, but I would not say our individual battles are cosmic, they are personal.

In conclusion there is not cosmic battle, that battle is over and was won by Chris, but there is a battle for individual souls, which I pray was the point of my homily in all of the other paragraphs. Maybe I could have presented it better but I was hoping to drive home the point that evil in the world has a direct correlation to sin in our lives, and it is not some side effect of a battle God and Satan are waging in the cosmos (as if often depicted in Greek and Roman mythology.) I am happy to address specific questions or concerns with you or anyone else (please feel free to pass my email along)

Hope this helps clarify the question, but I am happy to continue the discussion with you or anyone else.

Deacon Peter Fonseca

[1] Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Dogma and Preaching Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011. pg. 203. [2] Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Dogma and Preaching Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011. pg. 203. [3] Chanoine Barthos and Pere Fonseca. Our Lady of Light translated and abridged from the original. Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1941. pg. 33. [4] Attributed by many, including President Kennedy in his famous address to the Canadian Parliament in 1961, to Edmund Burke, but no one can authentically trace the quote to him.

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