Let me begin by acknowledging that July 1 is celebrated as Canada’s birthday. Happy Canada Day to everyone who is here and to all our fellow Canadian viewers joining us from home!
During this Mass, let us thank God for the countless blessings that we enjoy as citizens of this country. Let us thank God for the free and democratic life style that we enjoy. May these principles of freedom and democracy guide our dealings with all nations and all peoples.
During this time of pandemic, may we continue to pray for all government and health authorities in this country. May the exercise of their leadership be guided by the values of the Gospel and by their commitment to the common good of all citizens.
Finally, as per the Opening Prayer of today’s Mass, let us pray for peace in our world. In particular, let us pray for those nations plagued by war, violence, terrorism, ethnic conflicts and border conflicts. May our country respond with authentic generosity and compassion towards these troubled nations and work cooperatively with all those involved so that true peace and justice may be realized.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is met by “two demoniacs who were so fierce that people would not pass that way”. The significance of this detail is that these 2 individuals were completely possessed by demons. In other words, these 2 people were totally controlled by evil powers. These evil influences were destroying their lives. That’s the reason they were living in the cemetery, where the tombs were. They were spiritually dead. Then, that powerful moment arrives. Jesus casts out the demons who live inside these 2 individuals.
This passage is not a mere retelling of a miraculous event that happened 2,000 years ago. This Scripture has meaning and relevance for us today.
Like the 2 demoniacs, we, too, have inner spirits that torment us. There are demons that live inside us. Evil and sinful influences can possess us, control us, enslave us or hold us captive, and, in the process, ruin our lives. Like the 2 demoniacs, we feel utterly incapable of helping ourselves.
For example, we can suffer from an addiction or be enslaved by money, materialism and consumerism or can be held captive by an unhealthy desire for status and prestige or can be controlled by racist beliefs or can be tormented by grief, loneliness, anger, bitterness or lingering resentment. All these situations can make us feel powerless and hopeless.
Today’s Gospel message is about hope. It does not matter how terrible the inner spirits that torment us are or how many times we have allowed evil attitudes, habits or behaviours to control us. Every and any form of darkness within us can be overpowered.
Jesus is a mighty liberator. Jesus is stronger and more powerful than any evil influence or sin that is ruining our lives. He has the power to transform any circumstance that can deaden us on the inside.
God loves us. Nothing can separate us from that love –even the worst possible inner darkness. Nothing that enslaves us or torments us can become a permanent obstacle to a relationship with God. Our challenge is to open our hearts and minds to Jesus’ liberating presence.
The point is we must be like the 2 demoniacs. They met Jesus when they were coming out of the tombs. They did not hide who they were from Jesus. We, too, must not hide from God when evil and sin have possessed us.
We ought to have the courage to go to God and meet him and let him see whatever evil influences are preventing us from being the people he has called us to be. We bring to God the blackness and demons that are inside us at that moment, no matter how embarrassed we may feel.
For example, we need to be honest with ourselves and with God about those areas in our lives where we have done the opposite of what the 1st Reading invited us to do: we have sought out evil and not good; we have hated good and loved evil; we have not loved God and our neighbor as we should have. We need to tell God exactly where we have been less than faithful to the values of the Gospel and invite him to deal with that. The key is to give Jesus permission to be the divine liberator in our lives.
The act of allowing ourselves to be met by the Lord is an act of faith that will be rewarded. When we show such faith, Jesus will cast out from our hearts the inner darkness of sin and evil just as he did for the 2 demoniacs.
In a few moments, we will recite the Lord’s Prayer. We will conclude the prayer by saying these words “but deliver us from evil”. As we pray these words, let us ask God’s help to turn the inner troubles and the inner blackness of our lives over to his care. Let us bring to him the demonic influences that hold us captive and that have broken us. Let us trust that he will respond as the perfect liberator who will free us and deliver us from all sin and evil that lives within us.
Deacon Roland Muzzatti
July 1, 2020