Scripture: Lectionary 465. October 11. Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2. Psalm 9:2-3.6.16. Luke 11:15-26:
There is no doubt that today’s readings are strong and harsh. Joel speaks of the oncoming terrible Day of the Lord and his judgment upon the unjust. The Psalm continues with the judgment theme: “The Lord will judge the world with justice.” Then in the Gospel, Jesus confronts the demon, and those who say that he has a demon. We listen, ponder, and try to find out how to apply these texts to ourselves. We struggle with handling such negative scenes and thoughts of those who say Jesus is possessed and therefore casts out devils.
Joel is familiar to us as the first reading on Ash Wednesday. Joel exhorts Israel to fast and repent because of the coming of the awful day of the Lord. On that day the Nations would be judged and Israel would be restored to its glory on Mount Zion. The prophecy of Joel has an eschatological message that makes the reader think of the final days while awaiting the judgment of God.
We through our faith are with the Lord not against him. We know he is not casting out devils by the Prince of devils but on his own authority which comes directly from God. Jesus keeps telling us to keep focused on him who is the source of goodness, light, truth not the darkness, gloom, and sin that belongs to the demons. Jesus is the strong man who is alert to the coming of the thief in the night and will vanquish him. With Jesus we are to be vigilant and alert to any form of injustice, evil, and sin. Jesus is preparing us to overcome and resist the satanic spirits in our world.
The very last paragraph pertains to temptation where once we have been made clean there will be an onslaught of more trials and temptations. What are we to do? Jesus says we are to be prepared and alert. A master of novices told us that the best way to confront our temptations is to “resist beginnings.” That is good advice, too. We also find within this difficult selection from Luke another helper toward resistance of evil and that is found in the Holy Spirit. The image I take from this passage is that the finger of God’s right hand is the Holy Spirit and it is this symbol that brings about the kingdom of God despite what is raging about us or sometimes within us. As I glance down on my desktop I see a little card from the Marianist Mission which has the following quote from I John 1:19: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us.” Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.