Memorial of St. Blase, Bishop and Martyr
The devil and the power of evil are real. The consequences of that power are also real.
In our first reading David, the King of Israel, is fleeing for his life. His enemy is not a foreign king but his son, Absalom. We see in this reading the fulfillment of the prophecy that God gave through Nathan in one of our readings at Mass last week.
When David abused his power and committed adultery with Bathsheba and ordered the death of her husband Uriah on the battlefield, God warned David that there would be consequences. His son’s betrayal was one of those consequences. David allowed himself to be seduced by evil, and that evil in turn overwhelmed him and his house.
In our gospel reading, Jesus confronts a man overwhelmed with demons. The length of the man’s distance from God is seen in several ways. He is in the Gerasene territory, a gentile area. He lives among the dead in the cemetery. He physically abuses himself. He cries out in torment. When Jesus casts the demons out of the man, they enter pigs and drive them to their death.
So yes, the devil is real. His power is real. The human suffering because of his power and because of sin is real.
But Jesus is also real. His power is real, and it is infinitely greater than the power of the devil. Jesus’ love and compassion for all who suffer is also real, and so is his desire to save us and heal us.
The man possessed by Legion challenges Jesus: “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?”
Jesus answers, “Everything.” He has everything to do with us. He became one of us. He came, as he reminds us in St. John’s Gospel, that we might have life and have it abundantly. He gave all that he had for our salvation. Will we trust in his power? –jc