Of Demons, Thieves in the Night, and Greatness
“Ignorance is a dangerous and spiritual poison, which all men ought warily to shun.” ~ Saint Gregory the Great
There are many among us, some Catholic, who are of the belief that the devil isn’t real and therefore does not exist. He is but a mythical figure, a mere figment of a vivid imagination, used as a cudgel to scare otherwise wayward souls into obeying God’s commands for fear of a fiery albeit fictional hellacious demise.
Today’s Gospel (Luke 4:31-37) would contradict this notion, for as we look in on Jesus making his way to Capernaum, he comes face to face with one of Satan‘s minions, encountering a man whose very being was in fact possessed by the Prince of Darkness.
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are - the Holy One of God!" exclaims the possessed man, proving that even the devil himself not only recognizes the chosen one, the Messiah, but in fact acknowledges him as holy and subsequently cowers in his presence. As Jesus draws the demon out from this man, we come to realize that the Son of God has not come to destroy man, even those who have turned away from him, but to save man.
Our 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11) reminds us that salvation is our destiny (5:9), however we must remain vigilant, for as Paul reminds us, the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. He closes out this letter reminding the Thessalonians that they are in this together, and as such must look to build one another up, encouraging and supporting each other as members of Christ’s Mystical Body here on Earth.
Today the church celebrates the Feast Day of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church. In fact Saint Gregory is the 3rd doctor whose Feast day we will have celebrated in the last 15 days, with Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and Saint Augustine being remembered on the 20th and the 28th of August respectively.
Born in the year 540, Saint Gregory was a straight-to-the-point, no-nonsense individual. He routinely removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, and even emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards as well as to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. Saving souls was his life’s work, and the conversion of England his most pressing concern. He cherished the beauty of the Mass and is renowned for his reform of the liturgy and for bolstering respect for church doctrine. Gregory would ultimately take his place alongside Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome on the Mount Rushmore of Western Church Doctors.
Ever quotable, Saint Gregory once said “whoever wishes to hold the fortress of contemplation must first of all train in the camp of action.” As Paul reminds us today, the Kingdom of God is in our midst. This very fact must compel us to put contemplative thought, borne out of wisdom, into swift action as Saint Gregory so astutely teaches.
“Oh Lord, instruct those you feed with Christ, the living bread, that on this Feast Day of Saint Gregory, we may learn your truth and be compelled to act upon it.” ~ Amen
Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church, pray for us.