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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Christ's Authority: Even Impure Spirits Obey Him

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jan. 28, 2018
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching--and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him." (Mark 1:27)

In today’s Gospel (Mark 1:21-28) Our Lord Jesus is right in the heart of his ministry on earth. He goes to Capernaum on
a Sabbath and heals a man who is possessed by an unclean spirit. The demons are afraid of the power of Our Lord as the unclean spirit cries out,
"What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!" Jesus drives the demon out of the man, and the people are amazed!

My brothers and sisters, as we reflect on today’s Gospel passage, let us have confidence in Our Lord Jesus Christ. He has all power and authority, and He is coming again soon to establish His kingdom on earth. Until then, we need to stay close to the faith which we have received because we are in a spiritual battle.

As Catholics, we have been given many tools to stay strong in our faith so that we can face the demons in our own lives with confidence. One way for us to be strengthened in our faith is through prayer. In fact, when Jesus drives
out the unclean spirit, He says only one word,
“Quiet!” It is this same word, “Quiet,” that our Lord says when He calms the storm at sea later in the Gospel of Mark 4:35-41. Our Lord is asleep in the boat and the disciples are terrified because of the wind and rain. But He wakes up and says, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind  ceases and there is a great calm.

When we are being battered by discouragement, we need to pray. We need to take quiet time with our Lord. In fact, we should not simply pray when we feel
we are being attacked, 
but we need to pray unceasingly because prayer keeps us on the right path. 

Even if we don’t feel we get anything out of prayer, we do. What is most important for prayer is a humble and contrite heart. Our Lord teaches us that we don’t need to say a lot of words. Our Father knows what we need. Our Lord simply wants our heart. He wants us to place ourselves in His care in faith.

In fact, many years ago before I was Catholic I had gone through my own personal
Fr. John Paul Shea
struggles. During this time I simply and sincerely began to pray, “God help me to know what to do with my life.” That’s all I prayed, pretty much, and God did the rest. At that time when I prayed those words I would have never imagined that I would be standing here as a priest today!

One of the most important prayers we have as Catholics to protect us is the Holy Rosary, which has great power against evil. For example, Our Blessed Mother gave the Rosary to Saint Dominic in the 1200s. He had been preaching against a group of heretics known as the Albigensians who were wreaking havoc on the Church. Legend
teaches us that Dominic was having no success in preaching against the heresy until Our Lady  appeared to him and told him to pray the  Rosary and to tell others to do so. After Dominic obeyed and preached the Holy Rosary, he was able to defeat the heresy.

Our Blessed Mother has been stressing the need to pray the Rosary in more recent times because satan and his fallen angels are very active in the modern era -- with the permission of men.  At Fatima, Our Blessed Mother encouraged the children to pray the Rosary every day for peace.

Pope Saint Leo XIII gave us the the Prayer to Saint Michael after he apparently had a vision of God and satan conversing. 
He was warned that there would be an increase in spiritual warfare over the coming 100 years -- the 20th century.

The devil is real and he is influencing many people in our world today. Do not be afraid. We have a Saviour,  Our Lord Jesus Christ! He has all authority over unclean spirits. In these evil times, let us have complete confidence in the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ!

In the Catholic Church,  we have the holy Sacraments, which are instruments of God’s grace. The devil trembles at the Holy Sacrament of confession! Let us use it often in humility because humility always chases the devil away. We Catholics can use
Even the pope goes to confession! 
sacramentals such as holy water, crucifixes, and statues. Make your home a place where holy angels come to dwell to guard and protect. Place crucifixes over your beds. Keep holy water on hand. Ask a priest to bless your home.  

As we come to receive Our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist this morning, have confidence in Him. Give your lives over to Him. Ask for His protection.  For He is the Holy One of God! 

May the blessings and protection of Our Lord Jesus be upon us this day and always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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