Monday, January 31, 2011

Strength in Numbers

In today's Gospel (Mark 5: 1-20) Jesus deals with a demon named Legion, so named because "there are many of us". And the results of the many were shown in the way the poor possessed man behaved. No one could restrain him, shackles had been broken, he had injured himself. These many demons knew that Jesus had the power to expel them, and we are told they pleaded with him not to make them leave the area. Jesus knew that he had to command them to move to another subject, and that if He did not they would each prey on a different person. So He wisely commands them to go into the herd of swine (demons can also possess other living creatures, not just humans). By doing this He accomplished two things. First, He prevented them from possessing other humans. Second, since their hosts, the herd of swine, ran off the cliff and died, these demons could not possess again, but rather would be cast back into the darkness from whence they came.
While cases of actual possession are rare these days, the devil still knows that there is strength in numbers. He uses this to try and get us to "go along" with evil every day. Oh, it does not always look so bad - gossip, accumulating possessions, ignoring the needs of others. People around us are used all the time to try and get us to believe that we do not have to avoid these things. Most of the time, they try and convince us that "it is not hurting anyone" so it must be all right. We know that this is a falsehood that comes from Satan himself.
Sin ALWAYS hurts someone. There is no such thing as a "solitary" sin, because we are in relationship with others. And every sin either directly hurts another or hurts us so that we are not the best person we can be when dealing with others. Just look at the man who was possessed. Did it just affect him? Of course not!
The wonderful thing is that we have a number greater than any other - the Three in One. The unity found in the Trinity is stronger than any number of demons, and Satan is powerless against it. The only thing that can give the devil an advantage is when we fail to tap into the strength of the Trinity. If we do not freely follow the will of God, Satan gains a temporary advantage. But in the end, we know he will be defeated. The question is, do we want to be on the winning side? Today we will have many opportunities to tap into the power of the Three in One. And I pray we will all do so, so that we will have strength in the Greatest Number.

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