5th Sun (B) 2015

Job 7:1-4; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19,22-23; Mark 1:29-39

My life is nothing but drudgery; I am filled with sadness, tired of dealing with the mess other people have made of this world. Life is an unbearable burden. Will it ever end? Is there a God out there who cares what happens to us, or are we helpless pawns on some cosmic chessboard, only accidentally born?

If God is so good, why does He allow us to experience pain, loss, terrible depression, and various disasters? If God is so loving, kind and good, why did He allow the space shuttle Columbia to disintegrate over our Texas skies?

Answering the question “why?” gets us into a long philosophical and theological discussion. Suffice it here to say that God has chosen to put us into an incomplete world, living in our own personal incomplete lives. But by His grace we have the enormous dignity to be His co-operators, to work with Him while investing our own love and determination into the task of bringing our selves and our world into completion and wholeness. This is a great gift – an act of faith that God has made in us. We can be who He dreams we can be, IF we work with him, IF we place ourselves in His loving presence and allow His power to enter into us. That can happen only in a world — and in lives — that challenge us.

There are huge forces at work on us, both natural and supernatural. We wrestle, says St. Paul, with angels, principalities, powers and spiritual forces on high. AND we wrestle with our own selves, trying to put down the demons that beset us deep within our own hearts and souls.

There are demons against which we struggle, forces of evil that are outside of us — cosmic and worldwide, as well as forces we find within us, personal and deep within us. There are those who are uncomfortable with publicly talking about evil, such as when our own president uses the term. Using the term “demons” discomforts many, thinking perhaps it smacks of voodoo, witchcraft, and medievalism. But if we’re in denial then how can we mobilize our efforts to rid the world, ourselves, and those around us of what besets us? Rid our selves and our world of the demonic?

The time comes when we simply have to put aside questions of “why?” and take action. How to deal with all that threatens our peace and well-being becomes more important and urgent than to theorize over why. Then, too, perhaps the road to happiness is to set our selves to the task of freeing others of what besets them rather than thinking only about our own misfortunes and lack of happiness. This is what St. Paul urges us to do.

To be sure there are times when a good look into ourselves can be necessary. There are things within me that cause my own unhappiness and which thereupon bring unhappiness to those around me. Such things come to mind when I think about pride, anger, envy, gluttony, lust, avarice, sloth, and self-centeredness. Taking a moral inventory of my self is quite necessary from time to time.

How can I bring health, happiness and good news to those around me if I do live in with those things within me? I cannot give to others what I do not have myself. If I am to help in bringing better lives to those around me then I need to identify and cast out my own demons so that I might better live in the power of God and then share that exorcising power with those around me.

If we do nothing, if we give up the struggle to grow spiritually and grow in the love and power of God, then all that will be left for us is to moan and groan about life and all it’s unfairness.

God chose not to remain isolated in His nice, safe and cozy heaven. God chose to get himself mixed up in our miserable humanity and therein release His power and love in our humanity so that His kingdom might come here on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus, the Son of God, knew what it was like to live among the sick, the suffering and the oppressed in a land held in subjugation by the princes and powers of this world, namely occupying army and governors of Imperial Rome.

The Good News of Jesus Christ is the news that God is casting out evil and establishing His kingdom here among us. The challenging news is that God is accomplishing all of that in us when we respond to him, when we submit ourselves to His will, when we choose to work with him, co-laborate with him, co-operate with him. We must surrender our autonomous selves into the love and care of God, for without Him we can do nothing. Without Him we are poor and weak. With His Presence within us we are richly endowed and full of strength. Then we can face the world and all that life hurls at us.

To be sure there are times when each one of us simply sits back and demands that God do it all for us. To be sure there are times when we are exhausted, depressed, and seemingly beaten down. But, then, so was Jesus. The question put to us every day is: “Will I be controlled by sin, by evil, by all that is demonic around me? Will I allow life to entomb me?”

The stones of our tombs have been, by God’s power, rolled back. He unbinds us and cries out to us: “Come forth! Rise from whatever is death-dealing, victims no longer. Walk in the glorious freedom of the sons and daughters of God.”
Job suffered – the saints suffered – the righteous have suffered – Jesus Christ suffered. And so will we. The question is: What are you going to do about it? What are you going to do about it in your own heart and soul, and what are you going to do about it when it comes to removing it from the lives of others?

If we do nothing, then indeed life will be uncaring, threatening and over-powering. If we do nothing we will have nothing left to do but complain and shake our fists at God. If, on the other hands, we enter deeply into the life and Spirit of Jesus Christ then we shall have the power to face any and all evils, internal and external. Then life’s challenge will be an opportunity; then all that confronts us will become promises. Then we will have the wherewithal to cast out the worst of demons and reveal the presence of God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”