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Casting Out Your Demons by Fr. Harmon Skillin

         One of Jesus' most startling ministries was casting out demons.   Mean, ugly and devastating to those possessed, the demons would yell and scream, identifying him as the Son of God, and violently departing from their host as Jesus cast them out.  A scary scene, although a powerfully victorious scene of the power that Jesus has over evil.

What about demons today?  Does such devastating evil exist in our world?  I think it does.  Not, perhaps, in the form it appeared in Scriptures’ times, but real and devastating nonetheless.  For example, remember the saga of Elian, the Cuban boy who was at the center of an international tug of war.  Without taking sides, look at the evil that has surrounded that child.  What do you think the boy heard as he sat at table in his US home, as he walked around his neighborhood, as he watched TV, as he looked at a newspaper?  He was surrounded by hate.  He was the victim of the use of a human person as a weapon in a psychological war.  What will he be like when he's eighteen years old with evil having played with this boy's life?  

Or consider the young girls who have babies, and then throw them into garbage cans.  What kind of evil has entered their lives that would result in such a horrid action?  It must be a huge evil, because I don't think that a person does such a thing all by herself.  Things are going on in her life that involves other people, other situations, and other pressures.  And none of them could be good if that's the kind of action that results.  It's evil, and it's a scary evil.

What does the gospel call us to do? We have put on Christ.  So I think it means that we have power over Satan and evil.  The first thing we have to do is cast the demons out of ourselves--the demon of fear, for instance.  St. John tells us that perfect love casts out all fear.  We can let fear paralyze us from developing into the full, loving person God has in mind.  We can be afraid of making mistakes, and so do nothing, or worse, do evil.  We can let fear of embarrassment hold us back from growing up.  We can let fear keep us from sharing our weaknesses with our children or letting them see us deal with difficulties.  That's evil.

Consider the evil of inappropriate priorities.  Do we ever sit down and ask ourselves: "Why am I alive?"  Is it just to make money, or get a big house, or the slickest car, or to one‑up the neighbor or my family members?  Is the rest of the world a priority for me, especially the Third World, or the poor of our world?  Ignoring the rest of humanity for my self‑enrichment is an evil in today's world, a real and devastating evil.

Consider the evil of ignoring or misusing the body of Christ, the mystical body of Christ.  I think here of people who send their children to Catholic school and pass themselves off as practicing Catholics at the time of registration.  They give the appearance of being Catholic, but could care less what happens in the Catholic Church.  Worse, they don't even go to Mass with their children on Sunday.  They bundle their collection envelopes and deposit them in the Rectory mail box to get the “participating Catholic” tuition reduction.  That is living a lie.  And their children will come to see it's a lie.  So what have they done to the child’s respect for truth?  The same scenario applies to people who drop their children off at catechism classes, but have nothing to do with the Church after that.   

Consider the evil of people whose only interest is their own spiritual life, and have no concern or even disdain for the spiritual life of their Christian brothers and sisters.   Consider the evil of those who harbor prejudicial attitudes about those “other” people who use our church—those foreigners or those Charismatics.  These are some of the evil demons that exist today, and exist in too many of us.   We are the Body of Christ.   We have put on Christ.  We have the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is time for us to cast out our own demons.   

Fr. Harmon Skillin is the Pastor of St. Luke’s Parish, Stockton 

Read other articles of spiritual enlightenment in the December 2000 edition of the San Francisco Charismatics or return to the Main Menu by clicking on the blue. cpa2.GIF (2573 bytes)