Recently, flies invaded my home. Apparently they crawled through a small crack in an upstairs window. Swatting flies certainly is not a pleasant way to spend the day particularly after I had given my home a good cleaning.
However, the incident reminded me of the unclean spirit that goes out of a person and later returns. “But upon returning, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and brings back with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there; and the last condition of that person is worse than the first.” [Mt 12: 44, 45]
Like flies in a house, demons find their way into our lives even when we think we are clean in heart. Evil is relentless, corrupting and destroying lives due to choices made in humankind. So why doesn’t the good Lord keep the evil spirits away?
Let’s be clear, God is not the cause of evil. “He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it.” [CCC 311] But, evil never becomes a good. [CCC 312]
Consider this: Mary, the Mother of God, remained loving throughout her life and at the foot of her Son’s cross—to become Mother to us all. With God’s grace, our Blessed Mother did not succumb to evil in man’s heart as she witnessed her Son’s crucifixion, and evil did not overcome Jesus Christ. Giving up his life for our redemption, Jesus said “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” [Luke 23: 34]
From the greatest evil, God by his grace brought the greatest of good. We also see the commitment of God’s love in Jesus and Mary’s commitment to our salvation. In return, we are meant to give our loving commitment to God and share in this work of salvation for ourselves and our world. As St. Augustine said: “God created us without us but he will not save us without us.”
The fact is evil flourishes when good people do nothing. We must be committed to being good and doing good. For this purpose, God and his grace are imperative.
Therefore, are we truly steadfast in our faith, hope and charity? There may be cracks in our resolve based on the choices we make. Do we love God above all else? Is our attendance at Mass only to fulfill an obligation? Do we go to confession before receiving the Holy Eucharist? How much time do we dedicate to prayer, penance, and acts of charity?
Living as spectators will not keep evil away. Holding back our love from God and humanity, or living our faith only when it is convenient, makes it easier for evil to settle in. We can’t just swat it away like a fly.
Shutting out evil requires a life-long commitment; using finite human resources alone is insufficient. For this commitment, our Savior offers us his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. Partaking in the Eucharist augments our union with the Lord, separates us from sin, and strengthens our charity.
The more we offer of ourselves in return, the greater the grace we receive to always live our faith. Sharing God’s loving goodness keeps hope alive for us and our world. To keep evil out of our lives, may our Lord renew within us a steadfast spirit! Amen.