Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(Joel 1:13-15.2:1-2; Luke 11:15-26)
A local parish just had its first “Christ Renews His Church” retreat. The men responded well. Most who signed up came, and most who came on Friday night stayed until Sunday. But, of course, the end of the retreat was not the end of the process. The first priority as the retreat was closing was to schedule a follow-up meeting where the men would share how they felt going back into the world. Such follow-ups are prevalent the popular movements that invigorate the Church today. Jesus hints at their necessity in today’s gospel.
Jesus has just driven out a demon. The people wonder where he got such power. He tries to convince them that it comes from God because the devil would not work against himself. Then Jesus teaches the people that once cleaned of their impurities they must stay close to the Lord. He would say that thinking one can remain in virtue without prayer and penitence is only fooling oneself. As he puts it, the devil can return with evil spirits more pernicious than what possessed the person before causing great havoc.
We do not use the terminology of spirits, devils, and demons today. But this does not mean that they do not exist. More sophisticated, we typically call the moral problems people face vices, deviant behaviors, or the like. In any case, when the evil is removed, we are wise to remain, as Jesus tells us, close to him so that greater problems do not overwhelm us.