“A demoniac who could not speak was brought to Jesus, and when the demon was driven out the mute man spoke. The crowds were amazed and said, ‘Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the prince of demons.” Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”
Demon possession is sometimes a popular topic for horror films produced by Hollywood. The Exorcist was one of the most popular horror films of all time. There have been many such movies out there that reminds us of the evil that lurks in the darkness. There is actually a movie called Deliver Us From Evil that was a big money maker.
Today’s gospel reminds us that there is a reality of demon possession but we are to be full of hope and trust in the power of Jesus Christ over the powers of darkness.
Mark 16:16-18 states, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
These signs have been demonstrated over the past 2,000 years in the Catholic Church. It is very interesting that there are many Protestants who have become Catholic when faced with a demon possession. These cases would eventually be brought before a Catholic Exorcist to be delivered and full conversion to Jesus usually takes place.
A Jew who becomes a Catholic becomes a fulfilled Jew. A Protestant who becomes a Catholic becomes an enlightened Christian. They accept the fullness of truth which is only found in the Catholic Church. These signs that St. Mark speaks of are often times imitated by those who are terribly deceived. Consider some of these Protestant groups that makes snake handling part of their services. That is one of the most bizarre rituals that is built from twisting scripture. Yes, St. Mark does speak about not being harmed after being bitten by a snake, but this was not a ritual to test faith. St. Luke writes a case when St. Paul was actually bitten by a snake.
Acts 28:3 states,“Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire when a viper, escaping from the heat, fastened on his hand. When the natives saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to one another, ‘This man must certainly be a murderer; though he escaped the sea, Justice has not let him remain alive.’ But he shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no harm.” This was a huge surprise to the natives who expected St. Paul to fall over dead. When St. Paul continued with no problems, they thought he was a god!"
Notice St. Paul was not playing with a snake, this situation happened by natural circumstance. God’s protection was not a show for those natives, it was a promise as a sign for those people. Plus, God was not finished with St. Paul, there was still much for him to do in fulfilling God’s plan.
God has shown his faithfulness by the many signs of healing through the Anointing of the Sick, my Mother benefited from the gift on this anointing as well as my wife. There are many examples where Saints used “new Languages” to reach the natives.
I love the story of St. Anthony when he spoke in tongues just as it was given in Acts 2:5-13:
“St Anthony became known as one of the chosen disciples and companions of St Francis. He would refer to St. Frances as his “Vicar”, “was preaching one day before the Pope and the Cardinals in Consistory, there were therefore present at that moment men of different countries- Greeks and Latins, French and Germans, Slavs and English and men of many other different languages and dialects. And being inflamed by the Holy Spirit and inspired with apostolic eloquence, he preached and explained the word of God so effectively, devoutly, subtly, clearly and understandably that all who were assembled at that Consistory, although they spoke different languages, clearly and distinctly heard and understood everyone of his words as if he had spoken in each of their languages. Therefore they were all astounded and filled with devotion, for it seemed to them that the former miracle of the Apostles at the time of Pentecost had been renewed, when by the power of the Holy Spirit they spoke in different languages. “And in amazement, just like in the Acts of the Apostles they said to one another: “Is he not a Spaniard?’ How then are we all hearing him in the language of the country where we were born-we Greeks and Latins, French and Germans, Slavs and English, Lombards and foreigners?”
Unfortunately, there are many groups who have twisted scripture to such a degree that they have taken a sign of the Lord and placed it beyond recognition.
This is the result when signs are not authentic. When man tries to make things happen which really become opportunities that the Devil uses to deceived people.
False doctrines are very much a part of the Devil’s plan, “Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences.” 1 Timothy 4:1-2
Sola/Solo Scriptura has opened the door for many to twist the scriptures to their own ruin, “And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:15-16
When we are talking about the Catholic Church, we are talking about authentic Christianity. It is the true gospel handed down from the Apostles.
What kills a Catholic is the spirit of lukewarmness, Jesus warns, “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
There are a lot of these Protestant denominations who boast of a strong Catholic following. One out of every ten Americans today are statistically fallen away Catholics.
You will find them everywhere from joining an Atheistic group to cults like the Moonies and the Krishna to the Fundamentalist like the various
Baptist and Assemblies of God.
This is the Devils play pen, he enjoys rebellion no matter what the source.
1 Samuel 15:23 states, “For rebellion is as the sin of divination (witchcraft) and presumption is the crime of idolatry.” Once Saved Always Saved is another false doctrine some believe that is in truth idolatry, the sin of “presumption”.
Hollywood can create some very scary movies dealing with demon possession, I think the best one I have seen was The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
The larger concern I have is demon oppression which captures God’s people by enslaving them in these false doctrines and philosophies that lead people away from the truth.
It is important as Catholic Evangelists to work towards bringing home these captives and set them free.
James 5:19-20 states, “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
As a Catholic Evangelist, I have used apologetic like as a first base coach helping people step up to the plate. The batter looks to the third base coach which is the Catholic priest. Once the batter is able to get on base, we guide them towards second where the Church guides them home.
Ephesians 2:19-20 states, “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.”
The Church is the foundation that Christ placed His Deposit of Faith upon. This is what is authentic.
Those foundations built upon the foundation of men who created their own gospels, that is a play pen of the Devil.
In saying this that does not mean that most are demonic evil beings out to do evil.
Many are people who do love God with all their heart, mind, and soul. Satan does not play fair. He will throw pitches at you that looks really good, but until you get on base, your caught in the batters box.
The Devil seeks to destroy you and he brings in his environment to wear you down. Demonic oppression is a far greater concern because how his environment has deceived so many enticing people with the appearance of what tastes good. Like Eve taking that very first bite, peoples eyes are opened making themselves their own gods. That becomes the worst form of idolatry.Heaven has given us a peace plan beginning with the coming of Jesus, the establishing of the Catholic Church, the devotion to Our Lady, the Virgin Mary, the Sacraments, the true gospel handed down for 2,000 years. Jesus is Lord, He came in the flesh, and he has power over the powers of darkness. As Catholics, the bible tells us to “fear not”, “be not afraid” over 500 times.
St. Pope John Paul’s inauguration as Pope, the 265th successor of the Apostle Peter, on October 22, 1978, stepped out on to the balcony in St. Peters Square and said:
Be confident in the batters box, “Be Not Afraid"! Open up your heart, open wide are the gates to Christ. Open up to his saving power.
As the crowds were amazed when Christ cast out demons know that the world will try and blind your vision of your liberation. The more you cling to your faith, the more you cling to devotions such as the Rosary and the Divine Mercy, the reading of scriptures, the lives of the Saints, the teachings of the Church, the more you will see the work of the devil in your midst. I am reminded of Ephesians 5:11, “Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them.”
O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because in revealing them you can neither deceive nor be deceived.