The Reality of Satan


     …..Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and 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.”…..(Mark 1:21-28)

     The Gospel today reminds us that Satan is real and that demons prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls—an important, if unpopular, reminder. As C.S. Lewis observes in his preface to The Screwtape Letters, one of the greatest errors we can make about demons is “to disbelieve in their existence.” More importantly, however, the Gospel reminds us that Christ’s power is greater than Satan’s and that even the unclean spirits are subject to his authority.

     While demonic possessions like the kind displayed in this Gospel are rare, we all encounter evil spirits through temptation, an unfortunate daily experience. But if Christ can cast out demons who have taken full possession of someone, he certainly can—and does—give us sufficient grace to resist every temptation that comes our way.

     I have found that fostering a healthy spiritual life through daily prayer and frequent participation in the Sacraments helps me resist temptation. In my daily prayer—especially in those first waking moments of the day—I frequently renew my baptismal promises, including the rejection of Satan, and all his works, and all his empty show. Naming the specific demons I struggle with—anger, envy, lust, etc.—often helps me, with God’s grace, to overcome them.

     While we should not ignore the reality of Satan, we should ultimately have faith in Christ’s power to save us. As Saint John Paul II said so often, “Be not afraid.” Fear leads us to shy away from answering God’s call and aligning our will with His. Fear, inspired by the Devil, prevents us from trusting we are capable of doing what God is calling us to do or that God knows our needs and desires even better than we. Today’s Gospel should inspire us to cast out fear and place our unfailing trust in the Lord Jesus.

Prayer for Today

     Lord Jesus, you healed the sick, cast out demons, and cared for the lost and hopeless. Heal us from the damage caused by our sins, and cast out all hatred, jealousy, lust, and wrath from our hearts. And when we have experienced your healing touch, make us ready to serve you joyfully and to share your peace with others. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.

The Pham