INTO SPIRITUAL WARFARE
April 25, 2013
Today’s readings: 1 Peter 5:5-14; Psalm 89:2-3,6-7,16-17; Mark 16:15-20
Jesus commissioned the apostles, and by extension all of us who are his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15). In this work, God’s people:
* “will drive out demons” (Mk 16:17b). We assault the dominion of Satan and we help free his captives.
* “will pick up serpents with their hands” (Mk 16:18a). We contend with diabolical spirits but are protected by God.
* “if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.” (Mk 16:18b). We rush into the thick of battle, a life-and-death struggle, but come out victorious in the Lord.
* “will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mk 16:18c). We help overturn the effects of Satan’s dominion, including illnesses, and bring people back to God’s intent of personal well-being.
Thus the work of evangelization is an assault against Satan. Engaging in it automatically involves us in spiritual warfare. Satan, who has dominion over the world, actually seeks to expand his dominion, “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pt 5:8b). In our case, we bring the fight to him!
Since Satan is a powerful spiritual being (and only Jesus is more powerful than him), we can expect to be afflicted in this battle. There will be suffering and pain. In this we know that our “fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.” (1 Pt 5:9b).
How can we endure, survive and even thrive?
First, knowing we are into spiritual warfare, we must “be sober and vigilant.” (1 Pt 5:8a). The devil never rests and is ever aggressive. We cannot be complacent. We cannot be distracted or too involved in other lesser things. We must always be on guard. And we are to actively and aggressively “resist him, steadfast in faith” (1 Pt 5:9a).
Second, knowing we are soldiers of Christ, with Jesus as our Commander-in Chief, we need to be a disciplined force. The Church has a hierarchy, as do lay communities as well. We must practice active submission to those over us. “Likewise, you younger members, be subject to the presbyters.” (1 Pt 5:5a). This ensures unity, order, peace, and moving forward as one.
Third, knowing that the favorite attack of Satan is to foment division and strife in communities, often focusing on our pride, we must be humble. We must look to the good of our brethren. We must consider what is best for the whole community rather than our own preferences or agenda. We must be quick to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. “And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another” (1 Pt 5:5b). We must work on our loving fraternal relationships and strive for peace with all in the community. “Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” (1 Pt 5:14).
Our model is Jesus himself, who though he was God took on the posture of a slave. But we know that ultimately God exalted him. This is a basic principle. God allows us to be laid low in order to raise us up. God knows what devastation the great sin of pride can do in our lives. Further, it is only when we become empty vessels that God can truly use us as His effective instruments, stripped of all pretensions and personal preferences. “‘God opposes the proud, but bestows favor on the humble.’ So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” (1 Pt 5:5c-6).
Fourth, knowing God loves us and extends His protection and care upon us as His beloved children, we must never be afraid, no matter what opposition or oppression we are facing. We are in God’s hands. He has a great plan for us. We are already victorious in him. We are destined for heaven. So what is there to be worried about? “Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” (1 Pt 5:7).
Thus, in the work of the New Evangelization, we are into spiritual warfare. We are in God’s army and we oppose Satan. We will be bloodied, but we already have the victory. We just need to endure and persevere. “The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.” (1 Pt 5:10). We are blessed as we engage in battle under the banner of our Lord. “Blessed the people who know the war cry, who walk in the radiance of your face, Lord.” (Ps 89:16).
The call to the New Evangelization has been sounded. Let us do as the apostles did, as “they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.” (Mk 16:20).
Let us continue to assault the dominion of Satan in the world, and be used by God to restore the dominion that rightly belongs to Him. “To him be dominion forever. Amen.” (1 Pt 5:11).
God bless you all.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)