My Dear Sisters and Brothers! Forty six years ago Blessed Pope Paul VI in a prophetic way observed that the smoke of Satan entered the Holy Church. As we listen to the Gospel for this Sunday we discover that the unclean spirit was present in a holy place: in the synagogue in Capernaum. How was it, that evil spirit wasn’t perturbed all this time before Jesus walked into the building? Maybe the synagogue in Capernaum wasn’t filled with holy fear and awe of the Lord. Maybe it was a holy place only in name without submitting to the authority of the Most High. When Jesus stepped into the midst of the congregation he exhibited not only some interesting religious insights but predominantly he made present the Divine authority which as St Mark wrote down: ‘made a deep impression on people.’
How did the devil react to Jesus? It said: ‘What do you want with us Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ In a very perverse way the devil suggested the destructive character of God. In a sense it was also very cunning as people at that time were fearful that God could punish them. We find that it was the way the people reacted to God’s presence when God spoke to Moses as we heard in our First Reading from the Book of Deuteronomy. The people said: ‘Do not let me hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor look any longer on this great fire, or I shall die.’ Our society is different the fear of God punishing people is not an inspiration for being religious any longer but Satan still uses his old tactic to convince people that God is a destroyer in an new way adapted to the modern mentality. The unclean spirit spreads his message that if we surrender to the will of God, if we follow God’s commandments, if we accept his Gospel fully our life will be over. We will end up miserable, unhappy, missing on all the joys and thrill of life. Devil works hard to convince us that God sucks all happiness out of us. ‘What do you want with us Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’
After the last census we have learned that the most rapidly growing group in our society are the people with no religion. However the census didn’t disclose how many Christians have got a wrong image of God. There are Christians for whom God is a destroyer should they fully surrender to him.
It is a disastrous situation because it poisons their faith and trust in God. It is like with a husband distrusting his wife without a reason. It is like children doubting the love of their parents for them even if the parents make big sacrifices to support their offspring. It is like a friend becoming suspicious because someone planted suspicion in his heart.
My Dear Friends in Christ! To those who are afraid of God the prophetic promise of Moses should be a remedy: ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet… from among yourselves… to him you must listen.’ That promised prophet was given in the person of Jesus Christ. Look at a crucifix. Can Jesus be after your happiness if he sacrificed his happiness for you? Can Jesus be a destroyer if he let people crush him so that you and I and the people of all generations could draw new life from him?
In our own generation it is our responsibility to show people around us our Lord and Saviour whom we ourselves trust and to whom we surrender our lives. If we are not afraid of God it will be evident in us following his Gospel. If we are not afraid of God we see in the way of life he invites us to our joy, peace and happiness. Following the example of the Holy Father let us also turn to the protection of St Michael Archangel.