Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
(Ephesians 6:10-20; Luke 13:31-35)
A recent article in a leading magazine has undermined the prospect of finding simple explanations for human behavior. Since scientists developed genetic theory, they have held out the promise of discovering genes that govern all human traits. Some have looked for genes that trigger virtue as there are genes that control hair color. The article concludes that genes do not work so neatly. It says that genes almost always “overlap and interleave” with others to produce different effects. Of course, genetic determinism has always been questioned by behaviorists who attribute human conduct to upbringing. With all this complexity it might be asked if the Letter to the Ephesians’ assertion that evil spirits cause one’s difficulty to be good is really far-fetched.
The letter stresses that the quest to live morally is not a simple struggle with natural elements. Rather it proposes that spiritual principalities derail moral progress. It also encourages readers to use the armaments of the Church to overcome evil powers. Some of these arms are meditation on Scripture, receiving the sacraments, prayer, and fasting.
We should not underestimate the attraction of evil. Pleasure, power, and false pride tempt the best of us to put our own wills ahead of God’s. It is not childish much less foolish to think of these instincts as being manipulated by evil spirits. But we should also be aware that the Holy Spirit is available to us. The Spirit will more than enable us to repel evil inclinations. It will help us live as true children of our loving Father.