I have a hate-hate relationship with my demons. I used to find them satisfying. I reveled in their ability to give me a shadow of happiness. Dare I say that I loved them and their false promise of true happiness. See friends, I was unaware of the feeling of true happiness so I settled for an image. Now when I look at the shadow of happiness in the light, I see a clear picture of hell.
That’s the thing about demons – their goal is to bring us down.
For example, one of demons appeared for me this morning. His name is negativity. He wants me to revel in all things imperfect. When I give him attention, his presence overpowers me so that he comes out of me through disapproving looks, words, derision, and disrespect. I learned to recognize what it means for me when he appears.
I have other demons – some are more horrible to me than others – but all lead me to sin and ruin. I’m sure you can identify yours. If you are feeling brave, write about them in the comments.
I’m writing about demons because I think today’s scripture makes an excellent point about demons. The scene is Jesus and the omnipresent scribes. Jesus knew a thing or two about demons and was accused of being one himself in today’s Gospel reading:
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”
Jesus challenged the scribes:
“How can Satan drive out Satan?”
Jesus explains to them that their accusation makes no sense and that those who accuse him of being Satan will not be forgiven. In the midst of making his point, this verse grabbed me today:
But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house.
When we read and interpret this scripture, we men can easily misunderstand it. We read: “no one can enter a strong man’s house” and conclude that “I must be strong (at all times) to protect my house.” This is the wrong conclusion.
So how can I be a strong enough to avoid the plunder of my house?
Consider the advice from Jesus about becoming tied up. To me, being tied up means I am distracted from my essential purpose: to lead a life of holiness. My demons tie me up. The tempt me to commit sin and this tightens the knots.
For example, I can choose to focus on my career because it gratifies my ego. My ego demon tempts me, telling me that to be successful, I need to win friends and influence people. I need to have an important title, earn a ton of money, and receive praise for my brilliant intellect or personality or charisma. Women should swoon over me.
I went down this road. I bought the ticket and found out that it was one-way. I had to hitch-hike back to my life. By the grace of God, I didn’t reach the end of this road before I realized my mistakes.
From these experiences, I learned (and I hope to remember) that life does not require me to pay attention all of the time (because this is impossible); rather it requires that I paying full attention at the most important times. When I am tempted by one of my demons, I need to pay full attention at this time and pray.
So when I woke up in a foul mood, my demon of negativity licked his chops. By the grace of God, I dove into my morning prayer and reading. Soon the demon was gone and I was able to move on to a wonderful day – despite all of the flu viruses floating around my house that grabbed my wife and son.
Prayer banishes my demons 100% of the time.
When you are attacked by your demons, try to remember to stop and pray. See them for the false promises that they represent. Hold them up to the light and examine their folly and the terrible consequences of allowing them to seduce you.
Finally, when I give in to temptation and commit sins, prayer helps me to avoid it again. Reconciliation helps the most for me and this is why I love going to confession more than I used to love my demons. Reconciliation is hope. Reconciliation is love. Reconciliation is the means for me to apologize and pledge to do better next time.
If you haven’t been to confession lately, please go and thank God for his grace in this sacrament.
You might also like these related posts from cinhosa:
Today we remember Saint Ildephonsus
Check out Strong Enough by Matthew West. I think he adds to today’s reading.
- Satan Loves Fear: How Satan Uses Trauma to Enslave (pamsheppardpublishing.com)
- “All sins will be forgiven except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” (worryisuseless.wordpress.com)
- Some Things About Demons (palamas.info)