Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cleanse Our Consciences

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.  Hebrews 9:13-14

Jesus came with his disciples into the house.  Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat.  When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”  Mark 3:20-21

Be at Peace
Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life; rather look to them with full hope as they arise.  God, whose very own you are, will deliver you from out of them.  He has kept you hitherto, and He will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand it, God will bury you in his arms.   

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you then and everyday.  He will either shield you from suffering, or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.  Be at peace, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imagination.
St. Francis de Sales 1567-1622


Until the book and movie “The Exorcist” became wildly popular back in the 1970s, I had no idea what “possession” really meant in a religious sense.  Every moviegoer today is so used to demonic possession movies that it doesn't faze them anymore. “Possession” movies (it seems) come out to the theater, TV or Netflix every week – although lately they have been eclipsed by zombie movies and vampire diaries (but these could just be sub-classifications of the possession genre).

However, back when “The Exorcist” came out as a book in 1971 and then as a movie, it was a true scare all the way down the Georgetown steps.   I am told that people fainted in the theater watching this movie…I am told because my parents would not let me go to see it.  Now, you can watch The Exorcist on YouTube. 

We have become numbed by over-exposure to this genre.  We all have the "we've-seen-one-we've-seen-them-all" syndrome.  But the real thing – being possessed by God was so new and different that Jesus’ family could not tell the difference between being normal and paranormal.  In ancient cultures, the unexplainable was usually explained by fear.  Anyone like Jesus who attracted such crowds of strangers waiting for the next miracle, the next great sermon, the next healing could not be normal. 

Jesus, however, used his spotlight to the benefit of others who were “possessed.”  He cured people with physical and mental health issues that were beyond the scope of doctors from his days.  He was so right in using his position for the good of others that were shunned by the village.  He was so right that people thought he was wrong.

We might not be “possessed” in a Linda Blair head-spinning, bed-off-the-floor moment but we might not always be of the right mind and right relationship with the things around us. 

Are your possessed by “self-will” and a desire for things other than God?  It helps to consider how St. Francis de Sales viewed our relationship to God and free will.  The less self-willed we are, the easier it will be to us to follow God’s will, he said. 

…Whosoever is not entirely resigned, but keeps on turning this way and that, never will find peace. When a person has a fever, he finds no place comfortable; he has not remained in one bed a quarter of an hour, before he wishes to be in another. It is not the bed which is in fault, but the fever, which torments him everywhere. And so a person who has not the fever of self-will, is contented everywhere and in all things, provided God be glorified. 

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