Tag Archives: Mark 9

Sunday Devotional: ‘Whoever is not against us is for us’

Mark 9:38-42

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!

~Eowyn

See also “Invoking the name of Jesus Christ repels demons/alien abduction“.

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Sunday Devotional: Whoever wishes to come after me must deny yourself

Mark 8:27-35

Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?”
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.”
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.”
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it.”

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself”.

The above reading from Mark 8 wasn’t the only time when Jesus warned us about narcissism — the excessive love of self that expresses itself as selfishness, self-preoccupation, entitlement, and pride. In Mark 9:33-35, too, chastising the Apostles who were arguing who among them was the greatest, our Lord said in no uncertain terms:

“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

The late author Christopher Lasch, in The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in An Age of Diminishing Expectations, maintained that narcissism is the disorder of our time. Indeed, the decade of the 1990s is given the sobriquet of the “Me Decade.”

Some are of the opinion that contemporary Western culture itself is narcissistic:

  • Psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons observed that the “predominant character weakness in our culture is that of selfishness”.
  • James F. Masterson, M.D., described American society as “signifying the virtual apotheosis of the interested self.”
  • Psychiatrist Alexander Lowen, in Narcissism: Denial of the True Self, said that in his forty years as a therapist, he (and others in the psychological profession ) had seen a marked change in the personality problems of those who came to him for consultation. Instead of the neurotic guilts, anxieties, phobias, and obsessions of earlier times, Lowen increasingly encountered narcissistic individuals saddled with depression, a lack of feeling, an inner emptiness, and a deep sense of frustration and unfulfillment.

Narcissism being “the disorder of our time” is due in no small measure to the increasing secularization, irreligiosity, and outright satanism of contemporary culture. As Fr. Juan José Gallego, the exorcist for the archdiocese of Barcelona, Spain, explains, the Devil’s favorite sin is pride.

See “Satanism as a new political movement in America” and “Satanism is now a cool thing in California, esp. Hollywood“.

C.S. Lewis, too, called pride “the great sin” and wrote that “it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

Like all narcissists, Lucifer’s choice to love himself more than God only condemns himself to misery. As poet John Milton so perfectly captured the fallen angel’s eternal misery in Paradise Lost:

Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell.

And what’s the antidote to narcissism?

Once again, Jesus had already given us the answer:

To love God with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul, and with all our strength.

May the peace and love of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ be with you this glorious Sunday,

~Eowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Jesus spoke of demons and Hell

Jesus cast out demons

Mark 9:38-43, 48

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.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire…
where ‘their worm does not die,
and the fire is not quenched.'”

The above is the Gospel reading at Mass today.
Here are my questions to the U.S. Catholic Church:

  1. How many priests, if any, will actually speak of demons, exorcism, and Hell in their homilies today? I haven’t heard a priest do that in years. Why is that? Jesus described Hell as a reality and spoke three times as much about Hell than he did on Heaven. (See here for all the biblical references to Hell.) Do you not believe the words of our Lord Jesus Christ?
  2. Jesus condemns pedophiles and all who prey on children, so why is Belgian cardinal Godfried Danneels, who shielded priests accused of child sex abuse, a special appointee of Pope Francis to the upcoming and very important Synod on the Family? (Source)

Here’s my question to the Obama administration:

Jesus said “For whoever is not against us is for us.” That describes Syria’s Assad government, but does not describe the so-called Syrian “rebels,” who are anti-Christian radical Islamists, including members of Al Qaeda. So why are you hell-bent on overthrowing Assad, and aiding/training/funding the “rebels”?

Here’s my question to the government and people of Israel:

Jesus said he will reward “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ.” Why is it that Christians, especially Evangelicals, unfailingly defend Israel and condemn any attack (including even criticism) on Israel and Jews, but I can’t think of even one occasion when Israel has spoken out to condemn persecution and slaughter of Christians. Not even a word of sympathy or empathy. Why is that?

late summer Buffy Rose
May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,
~Éowyn

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Sunday Devotional: Narcissism, the first and greatest sin

James 3:16

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice….

Mark 9:30, 33-35

Jesus and his disciples…came to Capernaum
and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?”
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

Narcissus2

The above two Scripture readings are both warnings about Narcissism, the excessive love of self that expresses itself as selfishness, self-preoccupation, entitlement, and pride. The latter is “an excessively high opinion of oneself; conceit; arrogance” and as such, is rooted in an excessive love-of-self, which is narcissism.

Indeed, in a recent interview, Father Juan José Gallego, the exorcist for the archdiocese of Barcelona, Spain, says the Devil’s favorite sin is pride. C.S. Lewis, too, called pride “the great sin” and wrote that “it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

In Sin of the Angel, Thomistic philosopher Jacques Maritain more fully described what happened.

According to Maritain, the instant after an Angel is created, he must choose either to love God more than himself, or he refuses the grace with which he initially was gifted and elects to love his own self more. In the case of Lucifer, the second choice was made. By “a disordered act of the will—knowing that he does evil and willing evil”—Lucifer falls in love with himself, despite knowing full well God is infinitely greater than all created beings, such that every similarity he may have with God “fades before the dissimilarity.” Furthermore, Lucifer also perfectly understands that he must love God above all, a love that requires him to submit his will at “whatever sacrifice it may impose on a creature’s nature.”

Despite knowing all that, Lucifer still selects to love “without measure” his own grandeur and, in so doing, effectively elevates himself to be “like God.”

The sin of narcissism of Lucifer, therefore, was the very first sin. It was also the sin of our first parents.

After God created the first man and woman, Genesis recounts, they were settled in “a garden eastward in Eden,” an earthly paradise that amply provided for their needs, being lush with “every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” Our first parents were told they were free to eat from any of the trees save one, the tree of knowledge of good and bad. But God counseled them in no uncertain terms that if they were to disobey his command, they “shalt surely die.”

But the Devil appeared in the form of a serpent and said to Eve, “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.”

The sin of Adam and Eve was thus more one of pride than of simple disobedience. Imagine the overweening conceit that could prompt creatures to breach the explicit command of their Creator—that inconceivably awesome being who made the universe, who is the uncaused cause, the alpha and the omega, omniscient, omnipotent, infinite, with no beginning and no end.
James 3:16 warns that “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice,” as seen in the consequences of Lucifer’s and our first parents’ sins.
We are familiar with the consequences of Adam and Eve’s Fall. In the case of Lucifer, Maritain observed that when the seraphim commits his first sin, “his interior order would have been shattered.” Henceforth, “he has no rule other than himself; and an endless proliferation of all sorts of other sins would have followed thereafter.” Truly, as Ecclesiasticus 10:13 records, “pride is the beginning of sin.”
And so, from his first sin of grandiose narcissism, other sins rapidly followed: pride, deception, envy, contempt, and eventual rebellion. Coveting God’s powers and perquisites, Lucifer is consumed with jealousy because, notwithstanding his own magnificence, he knows how little he is in comparison with his Creator. Towards the remaining angels who freely choose fidelity to their Creator, Lucifer has only disdain, holding himself to be “better than the other Angels, whose obedience he contemns.” And so Lucifer rebels. For as Milton explained in Paradise Lost, “To reign is worth ambition though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n.”
Both Maritain and Thomas Aquinas emphasized that in choosing evil “in full light,” Lucifer reveals to us the frightening and infinite power of free will. Having elected evil with complete knowledge, the seraphim has no excuse for his disobedience and accordingly is denied redemption. Nor does he ask for forgiveness: Having made his choice, he harbors no regrets. As Maritain put it, once the angel loses his innocence, “he does nothing but sin” and, in so doing, “freely fixes himself in evil.”
But like all narcissists, Lucifer’s choice to love himself more than God condemns himself to misery. As Milton so perfectly captured it: Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell.”

And what’s the antidote to narcissism?

The antidote is the Greatest Commandment of all:

To love God with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul, and with all our strength.

For this is how much He loves us, wretched little beings that we are:

jesus_crucifixion

May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

~Éowyn

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