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Spiritual Reflection – TENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B)

‘The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis is a masterpiece and a must-read. If you haven’t read it, you really should try and get hold of a copy. St. Thomas More said: ‘Satan proudeth spirit cannot bear to be mocked’, but this is precisely what C.S. Lewis does in his amusing yet deadly serious account of the training of a younger demon by an older, more experienced one.
Jesus in a beam of light

He also wisely counselled: ‘There are two equal and opposite errors…about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.’

Certainly, today many will say that belief in demons or Satan belongs to the ancient world, a bygone era. In our more sophisticated age, medicine and especially psychiatry shed new light on behaviour that once might have been called demon possession, but today is understood to be mental illness of one kind or another. Indeed, psychiatry and psychology are sciences which do explain a wide range of human behaviour. The problem believers have is that the New Testament contains accounts of deliverance from evil, the teaching of the Church since the beginning has upheld its belief in the devil and his realm, and saints through the ages have often engaged in conflict with demonic forces.

However, it is Scripture itself that is our greatest authority for the existence of evil. The author of Hebrews wrote: ‘so that by his death Jesus might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.’ James urged us to resist the devil and he will flee, and Peter described the devil as a roaring lion on the lookout for someone to devour.

We are delivered from evil in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, but also by the blood of Christ. Faith gives us confidence by assuring us that the power of Satan cannot go beyond the limits set by God. Faith likewise assures us that even though the devil can tempt us, he cannot force our consent. Through the power of God, we can triumph over evil.

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