Monday, January 23, 2012

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany: 23 January 2012

The scriptural accounts of Jesus’ driving out demons are exceptionally difficult to deal with in this materialistic age. Though most Christian preachers are willing to admit of the possibility of certain spiritually realities, such as healing, faith, eternal life and the “call” of God in our lives, the possibility of the existence of demons seems somehow out of bounds.

In the 2009 issue of Homily Service, Virginia Wendel gave readers some useful alternative means of thinking and preaching about Jesus’ ministry of exorcism, and how to apply it to the lives of modern Christians.

It seems to me that we can all be considered to have unclean spirits when we let blocks to our faith take over and we fail to recognize Jesus in our midst. What do we allow to get between God and us?

Consider racism. When we make judgments about others based on race, we have an unclean spirit. Consider sexism. When we discriminate based on gender, we have an unclean spirit. Consider heterosexism. When we deny basic rights based on sexual orientation, we have an unclean spirit. Consider agism. When we stereotype based on age, we have an unclean spirit. Consider consumerism. When we are greedy and focus our energy on material goods, we have an unclean spirit. Consider addiction. When we are controlled by addictions to substances or process, we have an unclean spirit. Consider violence. When we are hurtful physically, psychologically, and spiritually to others or ourselves, we have an unclean spirit.

There are many other unclean spirits that may get in our way of acknowledging the Holy One of God in our presence. The unclean spirits that we are aware of and those that we are unaware of but are part of us keep us from the relationship that is rightfully ours through baptism.

What other ways of thinking about Jesus casting out demons do you utilize in your preaching ministry? What would it do to your preaching (to say nothing of your worldview) if you were to take the scriptural accounts at face value?

Virginia S. Wendel (2008): 1 February 2009 - Epiphany 4 - Ordinary 4. Homily Service, 42: 1, 118-119.

Virginia S. Wendel is director of Mission Integration and Pastoral Care at St. Joseph Village in Chicago.

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