Encouragement from Jesus in the Face of Worldly Threats

jesus-and-the-gentile-woman-300x232Today’s Gospel features a strange dialog; it is hard not to rejoice in Jesus’ aplomb.

In it, some Pharisees (likely disingenuous) approach Jesus, warning Him to leave immediately: Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you. Probably more for their benefit than for Herod’s, Jesus responds,

“Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose’” (Lk 13:32).

Surely Jesus has more in mind here than the next three days. He is obviously speaking of the Paschal mystery: His passion, death, and resurrection. To any who would threaten His life, He is saying that in so doing they only serve to undermine their own power and cause Him to fulfill His own purpose.

Nailed to a cross, He will be casting out demons and bringing healing. The next day He will descend to Sheol to awaken the dead, summon them to righteousness, and bring healing in life. And on the third day He will arise, fully accomplishing His purpose and casting off death like a mere garment.

There is no way that Herod, the Pharisees, or Satan can win; for in winning, they lose.

So also for those who would align themselves with the darkness rather than the light. No matter how deep the darkness, dawn inevitably comes and scatters it; the darkness cannot win. Scripture says, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (Jn 1:5).

In this strange and provocative saying of Jesus’ from the Gospel of Luke is an important perspective for all of us: no matter how powerful it may seem, evil cannot stand; it will ultimately self-destruct and be overcome by the light. No matter how awful Good Friday seemed to those first disciples, Jesus was casting out demons and bring healing in that very act of suffering. And His apparent disappearance into death and down into Sheol was only for the purpose of bringing life into the place of the dead and healing to the deep wounds caused by sin.

While Resurrection Sunday manifested Jesus’ obvious triumph, even Good Friday and Holy Saturday were already displaying His great victory.

In this saying of Jesus’ and in the facts of the Paschal mystery, two things are taught to us about evil: we should never glamorize it and we should not utterly fear it.

As for glamorizing evil, we love our movies and other things in culture that often glorify evil, whether it’s “The Untouchables,” “The Godfather,” “Goodfellas,” or other fare that in a general way celebrate wrongdoing and equate it with power and glory.

This is illusion. Evil may have its day, but the Word of the Lord remains forever. Scripture says,

I have seen the wicked triumphant, towering like a cedar of Lebanon. I passed by again; he was gone. I searched; he was nowhere to be found (Psalm 37:35-36).

We should neither glamorize evil nor inordinately fear its passing power. We should confront it soberly and resist its demands, but we should not fear it.

No, evil cannot stand. To glorify evil or to fear it inordinately is to miss the lesson of both Scripture and history. At the end of the day, evil does not last.

What does last is God’s holy Word and His Church. Despite repeated attempts to persecute, diminish, and destroy the Church, she has outlived every one of her opponents. Her history extends back more than 2000 years into the heritage of God’s people, the Jews. For His word to Abraham persists, and God rescued them from slavery in Egypt and gave His Word on Mount Sinai. Despite every attempt to ridicule, reduce, and redefine God’s Word, His promise to Abraham, His Word from Sinai, and His Word from the Sermon on the Mount all persist to this day.

This is what lasts: God’s Word and the Church He founded. This is verifiable through the study of history. Empires have come and gone, wicked philosophies have come into favor and disappeared, scoffers and persecutors have arrived and departed, all throughout the age of the Church. Here we are still; they are gone. And those who claim power today and who laugh at us and say our day is done should know this: when they are gone we will still be here.

Evil, error, and perversion do not last. God does last, and so does His Word and the Church to which He has entrusted it.

And so Jesus, when threatened by the Pharisees and indirectly by Herod, simply says,

“Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose’” (Lk 13:32).

In effect, Jesus says, “Neither you nor Herod can thwart my plans. In killing me you merely assist me in accomplishing my plan; I will break the back of your power. When you persecute my disciples or shed the blood of my Church members you are sowing seeds for the Church by the very blood of the martyrs you spill. Whatever victory you claim is hollow, for it is really my victory.”

Yes, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, … I accomplish my purpose.’” By these words the Lord decodes history for us. It doesn’t matter how we might wish to obsess over this seeming loss or that apparent defeat. It doesn’t matter how the world and the devil might wish to gloat over an apparent victory. In the end, the Lord holds all the cards. The house, His house, always wins.

It is true; read history. Do not admire evil or fear its apparent ascendance. Jesus has won and His victory is shown time and time again. Don’t let the Devil deceive you. Evil cannot stand. The devil is a liar.

Indeed, in the name and power of Jesus, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose’” (Lk 13:32).

4 Replies to “Encouragement from Jesus in the Face of Worldly Threats”

  1. On a personal level, consider the futility of seeking happiness in sin: We may think that murder, or hate crimes, or lying, or adultery, or piracy, or magic is how one achieves happiness – the Kansas militia (“Crusaders”), hate crimes against Christian bakeries and schools, politicians lying, cheating on one’s spouse, stealing music and games online, or Amalek using witchcraft – but in this way, we ruin ourselves and lose not only what we wanted but also what we had.

    There is no life in murder, nor love in hatred, nor truth in lies, nor faithfulness in cheating, nor respect in piracy, nor miracle in magic, so that in committing such sins, we do not protect life, spread love, serve truth, remain faithful, respect business, or receive miracles, but cause the opposite: death, fear, deception, separation, disrespect, and loss of hope.

  2. Thank you Msgr. It sure helps to get some encouragement in the face of so much evil – which ‘seems’ to be overwhelming… But for God, all things are possible!

  3. I would argue “The Untouchables” is not the best example of glorification of evil as it’s about Eliot Ness and his quest to arrest Al Capone, which he ultimately does. My vote for would be for “LA Confidential” as the third movie in that vein.

    However, another great post. I do appreciate being reminded how darkness cannot stand in the light (any light). I have been thinking about the 3 days of darkness prophecy and am starting to see the whole thing as a call to the sacraments, and away from the things of this world that only seem to corrupt.

  4. “So shall MY WORD be that goeth forth out of MY mouth: it shall not return unto ME void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall.” Isa 55:11

    ‘Despite every attempt to ridicule, reduce, and redefine God’s Word, His promise to Abraham, His Word from Sinai, and His Word from the Sermon on the Mount all persist to this day.’ Yes, Monsignor, dare we test GOD again? It will be utter futility, for Our GOD is the mighty GOD Who created the heavens and the earth and how dare we when we are not even ants (or microbes for that matter) compared to the greatness of the solar system, what more compared to the vastness of the universe. I am glad that I am not GOD cause if I were I will just annihilate to oblivion this troublesome world. Since GOD is GOD HE rather let the course of world history fulfill HIS WORD that we may bask in the beauty and truth of HIS Love. I thank GOD, HE is GOD and our redemption drawers nigh.

    Thanks Monsignor, as always, you remind us to be optimistic of the situation come what may, for GOD is with us. YHWH SHAMMAH

Comments are closed.