4 July, Wednesday – Fighting Demons

Jul 4 – Memorial for St. Elizabeth of Portugal

Elizabeth (1271-1336) was a princess with a pious upbringing who became Queen of Portugal before she was a teenager. Elizabeth suffered through years of her husband’s abuse and adultery, praying all the while for his conversion, and working with the poor and sick. She rode onto the battlefield to reconcile her family members twice; once between her husband and son when they clashed in civil war, and between her son and his son-in-law years later, preventing bloodshed. This led to her patronage as a peacemaker, and as one invoked in time of war and conflict.

– Patron Saint Index

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Amos 5:14-15,21-24

Seek good and not evil
so that you may live,
and that the Lord, God of Hosts, may really be with you
as you claim he is.

Hate evil, love good,
maintain justice at the city gate,
and it may be that the Lord, God of Hosts, will take pity
on the remnant of Joseph.

I hate and despise your feasts,
I take no pleasure in your solemn festivals.
When you offer me holocausts,
I reject your oblations,
and refuse to look at your sacrifices of fattened cattle.

Let me have no more of the din of your chanting,
no more of your strumming on harps.
But let justice flow like water,
and integrity like an unfailing stream.

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Matthew 8:28-34

When Jesus reached the country of the Gadarenes on the other side, two demoniacs came towards him out of the tombs – creatures so fierce that no one could pass that way. They stood there shouting, ‘What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the time?’ Now some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding, and the devils pleaded with Jesus, ‘If you cast us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’ And he said to them, ‘Go then’, and they came out and made for the pigs; and at that the whole herd charged down the cliff into the lake and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off and made for the town, where they told the whole story, including what had happened to the demoniacs. At this the whole town set out to meet Jesus; and as soon as they saw him they implored him to leave the neighbourhood.

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Seek good and not evil, that you may live.

I read today’s gospel reading about the two demoniacs, and how Jesus permitted the Legion of demons to enter the pigs. Poor pigs. What did they do to deserve this?

Today I reflect on the demons within us. Yes, they exist and are very real. Maybe not in the way of dramatic demonic possession as in today’s gospel, but in the form of the allurements of the world and the appeal of the flesh. Satan, the leader of all demons, is certainly a crafty character. His attacks are not open nor obvious. He works in the most subtle of ways. His techniques include discouragement, fear, loss of confidence, depression and despondency in our lives.

He attacks us when we are at the lowest points of our lives, when we are dealing with life changes, emotional pain or loss. He will strike where our deep rooted sins reside – pride, envy, anger, greed, lust, and sloth. At some point along life’s pathway, the devil does his best to implant in our minds the thought that we are failing.

At present, I am confronting my own demons. This is a season of change for me. I am trying to come to terms with detachments. I am learning to detach from things that mean a lot to me, learning to die to my old self as God moulds this clay to something new, learning to be less possessive of relationships or my expectations of what these relationships should be, being truthful that my sorrow actually stems from pride. Yup, there’s a lot going on and I feel completely and utterly overwhelmed. I am angry, tired and resigned all at the same time. I find myself fighting with God and against him. One night in prayer, I was so angry, I questioned if He was real, why would He hurt me this much? In my prayer petitions, I didn’t feel that I was asking for a lot. In fact I felt that I had gone with His ebb and flow. But as I grow in my faith journey, I wasn’t quite ready to face so much pain. I was ready to walk away from this faith. See how Satan has his way?

However, I know that Christian growth involves change. Our new growth brings about a change of relationship from ‘the ways of the world’ to serving Jesus Christ. Growth also involves challenges. Growth doesn’t mean that life gets easier; the challenges just get bigger. Growth may also involve some pain. Just as athletes go through significant pain before they get better and stronger, it is the same with spiritual growth. No pain, no gain as the saying goes. And finally, the grand prize. Growth involves joy! There is joy in a growing faith that walks in the truth of God!

So, today as I continue to fight the demons, I cling onto Jesus and offer up my prayers – no matter how lousy they are. Because Jesus is the centre of my life, I continue to seek his grace to liberate me from any evil influences or addictions which enslave me and prevent me from being the kind of person he wants me to be. The Christian life is one of persistence — sticking to our tasks, and not giving up.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: May we ever be ready to receive the help and comfort which our gracious Lord has provided in His precious and holy word. Let us grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for fighting for us, despite the times when we have given up on you.

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