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On the Evil Spirit


by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

MP3 Disc 2 Received from Breslin

These Sermons were taped by Daniel Peper who
traveled and taped Fr. Hardon from 1990 to 1995

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.

Jesus and his disciples came to Gerasenes territory on the other side of the lake. As he got out of the boat he was immediately met by a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit. The man had taken refuge among the tombs. He could no longer be restrained even with a chain. In fact, he had frequently been secured with handcuffs and chains, but had pulled the chains apart and smashed the fetters. No one had proved strong enough to tame him uninterruptedly. Night and day amid the tombs and the hillsides he screamed and gnashed himself with stones. Catching sight of Jesus at a distance he ran up and did him homage shrieking in a loud voice, “Why meddle with me Jesus, Son of God Most High? I implore you in God’s name, do not torture me. Jesus had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit come out of the man.” “What is your name?” Jesus asked him. “Legion is my name” he answered. “There are hundreds of us.” He pleaded hard with Jesus not to drive them away from that neighborhood. It happened that a large herd of swine was feeding there on the scope of the hill. “Send us into the swine”, they begged him. “Let us enter them.” He gave the word and with it the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of swine, about two thousand, went rushing down the cliff into the lake where they began to drown. The swineherds ran off and brought the news to field and village and the people came to see what had happened. As they approached Jesus they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion sitting fully clothed and perfectly sane and they were seized with fear. The spectators explained what had happened to the possessed man and told them about the swine. Before long they were begging him to go away from the district. As Jesus was getting into the boat the man who had been possessed was pressing to accompany him. Jesus did not grant this request but told him instead, “Go home to your family and make it clear to them how much the Lord in his mercy has done for you.” At that the man ran off and began to proclaim throughout the ten cities that Jesus had done this for him. They were all amazed at what they heard.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Homily: On the Evil Spirit

We should have at least one short homily for today’s gospel on the evil spirit. We can safely say that never, surely, in the history of Christianity has the devil been more active and more effective than in our day.

Three short things to remember: there is a devil; the devil is constantly tempting and seducing human beings; and thirdly, we should know, we better learn, how to cope with the evil spirit.

There is a devil; as we know on faith the devil became the devil by his own free will. He refused, that is an angel created by God, refused to serve God. To refuse to serve God is to become an agent of the devil.

Secondly: how does the devil operate? He operates by deceit. The devil is a liar as Christ tells us from the beginning. How then does the devil operate? By seducing people from the Truth. In our meditation on Christ being the Truth let’s make sure, make absolutely sure; Christ has his disciples, and the devil has his disciples. For forty years in the priesthood I’ve been telling people every person in mortal sin is an agent of the devil. Let me repeat. Every person in mortal sin is an agent of the devil.

Finally, how to cope: First of all we must know when we are being tempted by the devil. In the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius there are directives quite detailed on how to recognize the evil spirits. Two classes of people: those who are not serving God, who are living in sin; the devil’s technique is to keep those people in sin; not bothering them, not worrying them, not making them anxious. For the obvious reason, he wants to keep them in sin.

How does God operate for people who are in sin? Very simple. He sends them problems: difficulties, trials, suffering, pain, even tragedy to wake them up. One side; the other side.

How does the devil operate on people who are serving God, sincerely trying to do the will of God? And I’m confident I’m talking to the right audience. We wouldn’t be here; I know one person who wouldn’t be here unless he thought it was the will of God. We want to do God’s will. How does the devil operate? Memorize this for life. Those who want to do God’s will; the devil causes them worries, anxieties, disturbs them, makes them anxious, disquiets their minds. Take this as a law of the spiritual life provided you sincerely want to do God’s will: Consider every anxiety, every worry, every disturbance, every desolation as a temptation. That statement is worth ten million dollars.

Oh, how the devil can fool us. I repeat. If we are trying to do God’s will; the devil disturbs, makes anxious, causes worry. What do you tell the devil? Go to hell.

How does the good spirit act on those who are sincerely trying to do God’s will? We are weak, we fail, but down deep in our hearts we want to do God’s will. How does the good spirit act on those who want to do the will of God? He sends peace, serenity of soul, quiet, confidence, courage. That’s the voice of the Holy Spirit. That’s the way he acts.

Lord Jesus, you allow us to be tempted by the devil. We beg you; allow us to recognize in every worry, every anxiety, every disturbance, and disquiet of soul, a temptation of the devil. And to recognize that what brings us peace, confidence, trust in your goodness and love for us, may not be easy, but it brings us peace; it comes from you. Lord Jesus the Divine Exorcist, protect us from the evil spirit. Amen

In the name of the Father and of the Son…end of CD.

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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