Sharpening Our Weapons of Spiritual Warfare
”It is time now for us to rise from sleep.” ~ Saint Benedict
In today’s Gospel (Matthew 10:24-33), Jesus urges his disciples to stand tall in the face of those who kill the body but cannot kill ~ or even touch ~ the soul. With the incessant arguing in our world today over whose lives do and do not “matter,” I continue to find it interesting that this discussion hasn’t shifted into the far, far more urgent matter of the importance of souls and their proper nourishment and cultivation. Is all this fighting, name-calling, racism and vandalism helping our souls to incline closer to Jesus and his message of unity, peace and forgiveness?
As C.S. Lewis famously explained with regard to this discussion, in a manner of speaking anyway, “You are not a body. You have a body; you are a soul.“ It was for your soul and out of loving concern for it’s eternal dwelling place that Jesus went to the cross. . . Jesus, the true and passionate lover of souls. He who, although the creator of all things ~ including the unique beauty of race and ethnicity ~ does not even see race or ethnicity when it comes to his children, for such things are of no consequence when one is viewed through the prism of his or her soul. One’s soul transcends race and ethnicity. Once again it would appear as though Satan is distracting us, sewing the seeds of divisiveness and discord along the way, duping us into missing that which is real. That which is eternal.
Further to this Gospel teaching, pause for a moment if you would to consider how much good you could accomplish if you were completely unafraid and therefore not influenced by what others thought of you. Better yet, stop to think how much easier it would be to remain obedient to God’s Commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves if we were to let go of our preconceived notions of others as well as those times that they have let us down before, forgiving unconditionally in the same way that Jesus forgives us.
It’s unfortunate that no contemporary biography was ever written about the man whose quote kicks off today’s Reflection and whose Feast Day we celebrate today, the “Father of Western Monasticism“ Saint Benedict. Known and beloved by countless numbers of the faithful for a multitude of reasons, many rely on Saint Benedict ~ going so far as to wear a Saint Benedict Medal ~ in matters pertaining to spiritual warfare. In his new book ‘Immortal Combat,’ Father Dwight Longnecker explores the topic of spiritual warfare, “to wrestle with the monsters of the deep” as he refers to this battle. “The way of the Christian Warrior,” Father Longnecker explains, “is a summons to all the baptized to first of all ponder the dread curse of evil and the full victory of the Cross, then to turn from our downward path and take up that Cross and follow Jesus Christ.... Victim, Victor and King of the Universe.”
In one of his more recent homilies, Pope Francis said ”The devil is here…even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.” Scripture fortifies us for this spiritual battle. These are not mere words taken from an aged history book. As we learn in tomorrow’s 1st Reading from Isaiah (55:10-11), “Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”
In tomorrow’s Gospel (Matthew 13:1-23), the parable of the sower, Jesus explains that “the seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away.” Satan, the Prince of Lies, seeks out those who have not fully developed and accepted the spiritual gifts of understanding and knowledge in order to deceive. This is why we must be diligent in cultivating these free gifts of the Holy Spirit https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/More-Knowledge-Less-Outrage
Scripture, the Sacraments, constant intercessory prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, Sacramentals such as the Saint Benedict Medal, certainly the daily recitation of the Rosary. These are our weapons in this relentless spiritual battle. And in closing, lest we think that Jesus allows this warfare to rage due to apathy or a lack of concern for the welfare of his flock, I leave you with the words of Saint Padre Pio: “Jesus permits the spiritual combat as a purification, not as a punishment.”
Through the cross we are made pure. Through the spiritual battle with the evil one, we are made for eternity.
. . . Saint Benedict, pray and intercede for us