A Word of Encouragement in One of Jesus’ Stranger Sayings

blog11-17It is one of the stranger dialogs that occurs in the Gospel, and it is hard not to rejoice in Jesus’ aplomb. We read it last week in daily Mass.

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 ears than 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 on the calendar. 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 himself can win, for in winning they lose.

So also for those who would align themselves with the darkness rather than the Light. For no matter how deep the darkness, the 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 the place of the dead was only for the purposes of bringing life into the place of the dead and bringing 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. Psalm 37 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. Yes, 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. And her history extends back even 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 and ring through 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—when they are gone we will still be here.

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).

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

And thus 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, ‘… 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 fake you out; don’t be deceived. Evil cannot stand. The devil is a liar.

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

10 Replies to “A Word of Encouragement in One of Jesus’ Stranger Sayings”

  1. The Paschal Mystery is Jesus’ Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. It’s part of Jesus’ Passover, which is fulfilled on Pentecost.

  2. Catechism Compendium gives a better definition than mine:

    112. What is the importance of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus?


    The Paschal Mystery of Jesus, which comprises his passion, death, resurrection, and glorification, stands at the center of the Christian faith because God’s saving plan was accomplished once for all by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ.

    Catechism 571-573:

    The Paschal mystery of Christ’s cross and Resurrection stands at the center of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God’s saving plan was accomplished “once for all”313 by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ.

    The Church remains faithful to the interpretation of “all the Scriptures” that Jesus gave both before and after his Passover: “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”314 Jesus’ sufferings took their historical, concrete form from the fact that he was “rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes”, who handed “him to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified”.315

    Faith can therefore try to examine the circumstances of Jesus’ death, faithfully handed on by the Gospels316 and illuminated by other historical sources, the better to understand the meaning of the Redemption.

  3. Thank you Monsignor for this. I need reminding that inspite of the great discord, chaos, lies, etc i see all around me there is that certainty that Truth in the person of Jesus is all i need. It will be alright. Peace.

  4. Thank you Monsignor. Very inspiring as always. My scripture teacher, who was from Lebanon, said that “fox” in the inspired language was not what we know as a “fox” but a “skunk.” For what it is worthy. I assume he knew what he was alleging, as he knew Greek and some Hebrew.

    1. Well your professor was wrong as the skunk is only found in North and South America and a few islands in the Pacific.

  5. Thank you for a very insightful perspective which reassures us that God continues to guide and direct human history. He promised that everyone who believes in Him, loves Him and perseveres in the faith to the end will reign with Him in triumph. (Revelation 2:10)

    Likewise, thank you for Psalm 37 which is a most apt prayer. It continues in v.39-40 “The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their refuge in time of trouble. The LORD helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked, and saves them because they take refuge in Him.”

  6. It’s all there in scripture – the Gospels, even! O so very simple to understand – all without catechisms, theological books and even encyclicals. Jesus Himself said it a long time before any of those did!
    “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
    Believe it!! Yes – you ‘do’ have to ‘believe’ it . . . . . !!!
    God bless all.

    1. It’s too bad that different faith filled people interpret those simple Scriptures in different and sometimes contradictory ways. That’s why we need the magesterium to correct wrong readings.

  7. “Go and tell that fox, behold I cast out demons and I perform healings


    which Jesus in that moment in time He was on earth, manifested God’s power as man in flesh and blood, something which Satana took it for grunted that it would never occur. And


    which He is still doing so on earth from that moment on, and also in the future, commenced by the pouring of His spirit, Joel 2:28,manifested in His blood, and through his church from Pentecost onwards and till the end of times, despite that today it seems even the opposite, the fact that He said in:

    Luke 17:20……The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:…..

    and on the third day I accomplish my purpose:

    Apart that in the above He referred to His glorification,He also referred to the third and last term of salvation of all souls, depicted in

    Matthew 13:33…………..: The kingdom of heaven is like to leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the WHOLE was leavened.

  8. Oh my– love to hear this holy priest preach. We are so blessed to have you. I can’t listen enough! Hooked and mesmerized by father pope’s amazing gift of imparting the faith of Jesus Christ. Amen!????????

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