We are captive — bound by the evil one, who currently has the world in his palm.
“No, we’re bound by God!” one might exclaim in protest. If we’re diligently living out our Christian faith, that also is true. But if we’re being honest, it seems clear the devil is winning right now.
So let’s just start there. As Fr. Mike Schmitz explains on Day 154 of the “Bible in a Year” podcast, from a Biblical perspective, the world is under bondage to the devil, and it’s been this way since The Fall.
I actually find relief in confronting this, because my observances tell me it’s absolutely true. And the truth sets us free, even when it’s a truth that can bring great discouragement.
“And yet,” Fr. Mike says, time and again, because there is always more to the story. And yet…we have, through our Baptism, “been transferred into the kingdom of light.” And so, though we are bound in this world, and, to a degree, beholden to it exteriorly, because of the gift God has given us in his grace, interiorly, we are free.
But we have a part to play here, too. Our freedom is not fixed. The degree of freedom we experience will depend on our closeness to the well of life-giving sacraments.
This is why we have to keep coming back for infusions. The sacraments are like an outlet we plug into to receive more energy when our resolve wanes. When we stay too far away from this energy source, or compromise our souls through allowing worldly things to consume us, we risk dying. As in being dead even while living.
Our pastor talked on this during his Pentecost homily. He began by mentioning the tragic things happening in the world right now. I don’t have to name them. You know. “Why are these things happening?” he asked. “They’re being done by people who are alive, but they are dead in God.”
As sons and daughters of God, however, we are alive — as long as we stay connected to God’s spirit. Further, we have the ability, and duty, to bring that aliveness to others.
This analogy, shared in the June “Magnificat,” by Sister Mary Jean Dorcy, o.p., fits well: “We…are Christ-bearers in a dark world. As members of his Mystical Body, we have the relationship to the Light of the world that electric wires have to the central powerplant: we do not make the light; we carry it into dark places.”
“So many are walking around dead, and no government program is going to change that,” our pastor continued. “More and more people need God’s spirit as their spirit.”
“By what spirit are you living?” he asked. “The gifts he gives us are the gifts of life. In Baptism and Confirmation, you were given that spirit. When you sin, you lose it.” Having the spirit of God as our spirit, he said, is priceless. “On your deathbed, that’s all that will matter.”
Fr. Mike noted that Jesus came not just to heal and preach but to save us by fighting against the evil one. Not long after his own Baptism, Jesus went away into the desert to begin the mental and spiritual preparation for the battle he would fight FOR US.
“The strong man has bound us, but (Jesus) binds up the strong man,” Fr. Mike said. “He fights against what fights against us.”
Yes, we are bound, but Jesus, whose very name means “The Lord is salvation,” is near with his shears — and more — ready to cut the ropes of our bondage and take on the forces of evil. Even when we can’t see it, he is fighting, for you and for me.
I have found it heartening, especially in these cruel times, to remember that we are not fighting the wretchedness of this world alone. In fact, we don’t really have to fight at all — not as much as we sometimes believe. He is fighting for us. Thanks be to God!
“The Lord will fight for you; you have only to keep still.” (Exodus 14:14)
Q4U: What holds you bound at this time? What steps can you take, today, to begin to be free?
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