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July 15, 2018 - An Exorcist, Each One of Us

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

I was in a phone conversation with a couple last week. They believe that their home is possessed. At least one of the family members is convinced that a strange presence may be controlling this person. They gave me very vivid and strange imageries of things happening in the house. The terms they used most often was “darkness.” Knowing that they were not Catholic or that any of them were baptized, I invited them to meet with me so that I could know more about them before I went into their house to bless it. The family did not honor their appointment and I feel a little concerned. I made a phone call to find out, but they have not responded. It is not very rare for me receive requests for exorcism. Whenever I receive them, I am a little cautious but also bold. I am always remined of today’s gospel reading, where Jesus gave authority over unclean spirit to his apostles. Today’s gospel tells us that with faith in the authority that Christ gave them, “The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.”

I am not sure how many times you have received a request for exorcism. I am assuming that it is rare. However, I am sure, you have received may request for prayer for healing from sickness and illnesses. I am sure people share their stories of hurt, pain, and sadness. What do you do? How can we make today’s gospel real for them? As baptized people, what authority do we have? What is Christ sending us for? I would like to answer these questions in my three practical implications.  

a) Two-by-two. In many ways, the authority that Jesus shared with his apostle is the very authority that Jesus himself had. At our baptism, like Christ, we are anointed Priest, Prophet, and King. Since we share in the anointing of Christ, the authority we have is also the same. Some of us my cringe at this thought. Not because we do not believe it, but because we may find ourselves very unworthy to compare ourselves to Christ. Yes, we are not the Christ. We are not the saviors of the world. However, we must understand this – that Christ invites us into his very life, his mission, his work, his Body, his Blood. Christian life, in fact and reality, is a continuation of the life of Christ. To the extent we believe this, to that extent we will exercise the authority that Christ has given to us.   

b) An Exorcist, Each One or Us. While we share in the anointing, the life, and the mission of Christ, the chance of you being invited to conduct an exorcism might be rare. And if you are invited, you should probably call your pastor. Genuine exorcisms are highly specialized and complex phenomena. However, there is the kind of exorcism that you can perform without any hesitation. For example, hatred is the work of the Evil One. Racism is Evil. Prejudice is Evil. Greed is Evil. Lust is Evil. On Thursday, I met with someone whose marriage and family has been destroyed by pornography. That is the work of the Evil One. Wherever and in whatever form we encounter Evil, our mission is to make it powerless. Today, Christ is sending us two-by-two against Evil that comes in various forms. This authority and mission are ours by our baptism.  

c)  A Mission of Goodness. When Jesus completed his mission upon the earth, not only did he vanquish Evil, but he replaced it Good. Death was replaced with Life. Darkness was replaced with Light. Our mission and the authority given to us is similar. As the prayer of St. Francis says, Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.  

Today’s scripture and liturgy invite us to not merely destroy Evil but to replace it with God and Goodness. 

As we receive the Eucharist, we receive Christ himself – the source and summit of goodness and holiness. With Christ himself in us, let us join him in his mission. 

- Fr .Satish Joseph