Homily for Friday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel is a reminder for all of us that spiritual warfare is real. If Jesus engaged in it, so should we.
If you’ve ever been to confession with me, I often times cite this passage from Luke when I teach those seeking the Sacrament how to rebuke spirits. For us, that is our way of combating against the demonic spirits that oppress us or simply annoy us. But I always cite this passage because it teaches us an important lesson about how demonic spirits work.
If there is a particular temptation that continually comes up for us and we have battled against it for any length of time, we are encouraged to claim our baptismal authority as a beloved sons or daughters of God and rebuke those spirits. It might be that we’re struggling with the spirit of lust, the spirit of gossip, the spirit of discouragement, or the spirit of sloth. Whatever the case might be. But because of our baptism and our adoption as children of God, we have the ability to rebuke those spirits. It’s as easy as saying: “In the name of Jesus, I rebuke you spirit of XYZ.” But we can’t stop there. There is something else that we have to add. What does the Gospel tell us?
“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.”
We can’t simply rebuke the unclean spirits that aggravate us. We can’t simply drive them away without filling the space in our lives with something else. And that something else is the love of God. So, if we are really struggling to overcome a temptation, I encourage each of us today to try rebuking the spirit attached to that temptation, but then also asking the Holy Spirit to fill the void left behind. Say: “In the name of Jesus, I rebuke you spirit of (sloth, discouragement, lust, etc.) and Holy Spirit I ask that you fill that space in my heart with your love and your presence. Thank you, Lord.”
If you’ve never done that before, I invite you to try it in a moment of temptation. You might just be surprised how the Holy Spirit works through it. Stand rooted in your identity as God’s beloved sons and daughters and kick those demons to the curb!