FRIDAY OF THE TWENTY-SEVENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2
Put on sackcloth and lament, you priests; wail, you ministers of the altar. Come, pass the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God! Grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God.
Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.
Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near— a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness spread upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come.
Psalm 9:1-2, 5, 15, 7-8
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid has their own foot been caught.
But the Lord sits enthroned forever, he has established his throne for judgment. He judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with equity.
But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? —for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
The first reading is the warning we usually read before the season of Lent when we increase our prayer, fasting, alms, and penance to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord. As Christians, it is always important to prepare our hearts and look for the coming of the Lord, but it is also a very somber time of darkness and warfare and destruction.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel that there is a kingdom of Satan which is completely opposed to his kingdom. There is no co-operation between these two realms. There is war between us. The demons of darkness may be cast out for a time but they prowl about the earth looking for a new place to possess. They return to the place they have known and they cluster together to take advantage of those who do not have their houses in order. If a person is not possessed by the Holy Spirit, he makes himself vulnerable to the demonic.
We have the armor and the weapons that we need to help us defend our person, our households, and our kingdom. God equips us and wants us to have power over the darkness. "... if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you."
Today, we implore the Holy Spirit to be with us and protect us as we see it is a time for our families and our churches to flee to the protection of the merciful heart of Jesus and stand our ground against the powers of the enemy.