3rd Sunday of Lent 28.2.16 Perseverance
We get rid of one demon and seven more come back! That is what our spiritual life can feel like. We strive for perfection, to have the spiritual house completely clean – but like a real house, when we open a drawer we find more in there than we wanted to see.
So, when we examine our conscience closely we see there are more stains and patches than we would like.
When someone dies, everyone says how good that person was. And some of them are good.
But the word ‘good’ is thrown around like confetti. If we do not look too closely anyone can appear good, including ourselves.
But we must understand that when God looks at a soul His searching light is much stronger. He can see every thought we have ever had, every word we have ever spoken, every deed ever done.
He can see what we have become as a result of all that. We are general in our analysis of a person’s life; God is specific.
If there is even one fault it has to be ironed out before we can enter Heaven. (This is the role of Purgatory)
It is in this light we can understand today’s Gospel about the demons.
It is good to get rid of one demon; but we cannot rest with that. We must see it like a war, where we repel advance after advance of the enemy. Never resting until there is no more threat.
Perseverance in the faith is vital. So many do not stay the distance.
Look at any First Communion photo, and wonder how many of those children stayed faithful all their lives.
As to young people today we have got to the point that it is almost expected that they lose their faith.
Not because the faith is any less true, but simply because people have become so spiritually vague (as above) that they do not see the need to work on their faith.
Complacency has seeped in to the works and salvation is taken for granted. This is potentially disastrous for actual salvation, which is not so easy.
Everyone who has the faith should keep it. It is not so easy, but not so hard either once we recognize the pitfalls.
‘Use it or lose it’ - applies to other things in life, but more than ever to the faith.
Faith is central to our existence and the meaning of our lives. We have to exercise the faith, interact with it, think about it, see it as normal.
It has to be every day, not just Christmas and Easter, not just weddings and funerals, but every day, the big days and the days when nothing is happening.
The devil (one or seven) will be trying every trick in the book to make us neglect the faith, and there are many such tricks.
For example, saying: I don’t need to go to church to be good. Or I don’t go to church but I am still spiritual. Or, I don’t go to church but at least I am not a hypocrite.
Daily prayer, frequent confession, Lenten discipline and all-year penance. They all help; no one of them guarantees salvation, but they all help along the way.
Much of what we do as Catholics is just to remind us how much we are in need of God's mercy.
It is not just the young. Older people too can lose the faith, often by gradual neglect.
We have to work on the faith, keep it on the boil.
One very consoling fact: that even if seven demons come back we can get rid of them too.
Any spiritual battle can be won if only we stay close to Christ and keep close – till the end of our days.