At that time, John said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea….”
The above passage from Mark 9 precisely addresses two of the many things that afflict the Catholic Church today.
The first is the clergy’s pedophilia and child sex abuse, and their superiors’ enabling of those criminal acts. See “Catholic Church in Crisis: Pedophile cardinal; Pennsylvania priests abused 1k children; homoerotic church service”.
Fr. Gary Thomas, the exorcist portrayed in the movie The Rite, calls the pedophile priests scandal “demonic” and predicts worse is yet to come, which brings us to the second thing in the passage from Mark 9 which afflicts the Church today — the clergy’s allergy to any mention of devils and demons.
Although priests are supposed to address the Gospel reading of the day in their homilies, how many priests today will actually make mention of demons, demonic possession, and that Jesus had given them authority to drive out demons? In my experience of many years, homilies that actually do that number but a handful.
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.
A 2013 Harris Poll found that Christian beliefs had declined:
- Although a majority (74%) of U.S. adults still said they believed in God, that’s down from the 82% who had expressed such a belief in earlier years.
- 68% believed that Jesus is God or the Son of God, down from 72%.
- 65% believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, down from 70%.
- Only 58% believed in the devil and Hell, down from 62%, which implies that those who believe that Jesus is God but do not believe in the devil or Hell must think Jesus either lies or is a fantacist. In either case, whether Jesus lies about the existence of demons or that he believes in and promotes a fantasy, then Jesus cannot be God.
“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. How can we armor ourselves against the Devil if we don’t even believe he exists? No wonder Americans increasingly are debauched and depraved. (See “Satanism as a new political movement in America”)
As for Jesus’ instruction that “Whoever is not against us is for us,” it calls to mind a recent exchange I had with a reader on my post, “One-world-government Walter Cronkite: ‘I’m glad to sit at the right hand of Satan“.
In my post, I quoted from a speech that Cronkite gave on October 19, 1999, at the United Nations, in which he espoused a one-world government, which he maintained had been obstructed by “a handful of willful senators” who “pander to and are supported by the Christian Coalition and the rest of the religious right wing.” Then Cronkite said:
“Their leader, Pat Robertson, has written in a book a few years ago that we should have a world government but only when the Messiah arrives. (Derisive laughs from the audience.) He (Robertson) wrote, ‘Any attempt to achieve world order before that time must be the work of the devil.’ Well, join me. I’m glad to sit here at the right hand of Satan.” (Audience applause)
The reader suggested that Cronkite and Hollywood celebrities who speak “casually about ‘sitting at Satan’s right hand’ and such statements” are either joking or “spiritually ignorant” in that they “don’t really know what they’re saying” and don’t actually believe in Satan or in God.
Jesus’ reminder that “Whoever is not against is for us” tells us that those like Cronkite who mock Christ and Christians are not “for us”, but are against us, no matter their feigned jocularity. We should, therefore, regard them with wariness and caution.
May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you!