Thank God for the gift of faith. Faith distinguishes us from pagans and from demons, Saint Augustine has said (354 – 430 AD), for we believe that Jesus Christ is God the Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, One God, Who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that Jesus came into the world, was crucified, died and is risen from the dead, that He has conquered sin and death and wrought for us Life Eternal in Heaven. And we, by His grace, love Jesus Christ and follow Him.
The demons whom we hear about in the Gospel this Sunday also saw and believed in the things that Jesus was doing. Indeed, before Jesus had risen, the demons cried out and said, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:21-28). But, they did not love or follow Jesus. Saint Augustine said: We distinguish ourselves from the pagans by believing that Christ has risen; let us also distinguish ourselves from the demons. The demons said: I know who you are – the Holy One of God. And Jesus tells them, “Quiet! Come out of him!” (Mark 1:25). Saint Augustine asks: Didn’t the demons say what Saint Peter also said? Jesus was inquiring of the Apostles and said, “You, though, who do you say that I am?” Saint Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And while the demons are told, “Be quiet,” we hear Jesus tell Peter, “Blessed are you” (Matthew 16:13-17). What made the difference for them, also makes the difference for us. What made the demons cry out? Fear. What made Saint Peter cry out? Love. Saint Peter declares the Faith with love. And in that faith and love, Peter follows Jesus (while the demons refused to love or follow Jesus).
May all faithful Christians, Catholic and Protestant, follow Jesus Christ and be on fire with the ardor of charity, of love, as Saint Augustine says, and thus differentiate ourselves from Satan and his demons. In our love for God and neighbor, let us also pray for the conversion of those who are pagans, that they come to believe in, follow and love Jesus Christ. This ardor of love lifts us up to Heaven, for God is Love (1 John 4). Whatever vexations we might suffer on earth, however much the enemy may humiliate Christian hearts and press them downward, the ardor of love seeks the heights. During this Catholic Schools Week and every day, may we realize that our Lord is always ready to give us His grace, His divine strength, through prayer, His Church, Word and Sacraments; let us choose to receive His grace with open, expansive hearts. By His grace, let us embrace the fullness of the Faith with love, follow Jesus Christ in love (by our words and deeds), tell the Truth with love, and say “yes” to God Who is Love and to His gift of life, now and always.
With prayers and peace in Christ,