Thursday, October 29, 2020

 Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

 (Ephesians 6:10-20; Luke 13:31-35)

 An article in The Atlantic magazine a few years ago challenged the prospect of finding genetic explanations for human behavior.  Since the development of genetic theory, scientists have hoped to discover genes that govern all human traits.  They have looked for genes that trigger virtue as there are genes that determine hair color.  The article concluded that genes do not work so neatly.  It said that genes almost always “overlap and interleave” with others to produce different effects.  Of course, behaviorists have always questioned genetic determinism.  They believe that upbringing is a more powerful force shaping behavior than genetic composition. 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 far-fetched.

The letter stresses that the quest to live morally is not a simple struggle with natural elements.  Rather it proposes that evil angelic principalities derail moral progress.  It also encourages readers to use the armaments of the Church to defeat 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, and much less foolish, to think of our instinctual drives 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.