Moving towards the end of Lent we are witnessing more tension between Jesus and the authorities, as well as seeing an increased emphasis on conversion and discipleship. In today's Gospel Jesus expels a demon, yet is challenged on his authority to do so. The entire mission of Jesus has been to cast out evil, and to reveal God's plan of salvation and peace. This is about the time when we yearn to eat that chocolate, have a beer, or engage in any one of dozens of things we may have given up for Lent. Perhaps this is why the prophetic words we find in sacred scripture are all the more blunt during these last few weeks.
In the early Church the catechumens stood in a dark Church, with Baptized Christians - soon to be their brothers and sisters in Christ - and listened and watched as the bishop pour blessed oil on the font, and rubbed it into the stone. He then prayed a prayer of exorcism over the font and the water. The soon to be Christians then pronounced their baptismal promises three times, turning towards the west they renounced Sin and Satan, and to the east, proclaimed their faith in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This commitment against Sin and Evil was very important part of the life of the Christian. The neophyte was to be a child of the light.
Maybe we have lost that sense of Sin and sinfulness in our lives today. If we were to talk about casting out demons we might smile and even snicker a bit. But today we as a people of God, and as a Church really need to be diligent in its stand against evil, and yearning for the truth and goodness. One of my seventh graders this morning asked about the time frame of eating meat on a Friday. "What happens is I begin eating a hamburger at 11:56 p.m. ..." Our whole thrust has to be about an interior conversion. We have live lives of integrity and faith. This is much more important that how straight we kneel, or folding our hands at the proper angle to the vertical of our spine.
I reminded the seventh graders today (as I have for the last few years) matters of justice, peace, respect for life, and human dignity, are the foundation of the scriptural teachings. In our Church today too, our commitment to faith is really about making the Word of God, and our profession of faith, something that is real. We are not contemplating a theology but a relationship which we have with the living God, and our brothers and sisters. We must be perfected as our Father in heaven is perfect.