Then they came to Capernaum,
and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at His teaching,
for He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried 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 rebuked him and said,
“Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
The above passage from Mark is the gospel reading for today. I predict that Fr. Jack at my parish, once again, will make no mention in his homily of Jesus’s exorcism or of the Devil or of demons.
The pusillanimous avoidance of all mention of devil, demons, and Hell by too many priests and ministers may account for why Americans increasingly no longer believe in the devil.
CNS News reports that a 2013 Harris Poll found that although a majority (74%) of U.S. adults still say they believe in God, that’s down from the 82% who had expressed such a belief in earlier years. Nearly one-fourth of Americans (23%) identify themselves as “not at all” religious – a figure that has nearly doubled since 2007, when it was at 12%. Belief in miracles, heaven and other religious teachings also declined in the latest poll, including:
- 68% believe that Jesus is God or the Son of God, down from 72%;
- 65% believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, down from 70%;
- And only 58% believe in the devil and hell, down from 62%.
Why do only 58% or fewer than 6 out of every 10 American adults believe in the devil when 68% believe that Jesus is God? Do they imagine that our Lord Jesus Christ was lying or hallucinating when He exorcised demons in Gospel passages like Mark 1:21-28?
“The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist. (La plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas.)” -Charles Baudelaire’s Le Joueur généreux, 1864.