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30th Week in Ordinary Time
Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with … the evil spirits in the heavens. (Ephesians 6:12)
“Life would be so much easier if my spouse would stop being so irritating. And that annoying co-worker! If she would just shape up, I wouldn’t get so mad. While we’re at it, I wish my neighbor would stop showing off his new car. You know, I would be so much happier if I had one too.”
How often we blame our issues on someone else! But St. Paul reminds us not to lose sight of the real battle. It’s not with the other person but with the devil himself, who wants to separate us from each other and from Jesus.
When you have resentful thoughts about your spouse or envious thoughts about your neighbor, who do you think planted them? It’s not your co-worker’s fault; it’s a temptation from the devil! He’s the one whispering the divisive words to you.
Pope Francis has spoken repeatedly about how the devil works to cut us off like this. In a homily last April, he asked, “What does Satan do to distance us from the path of Jesus? First, his temptation begins gradually but grows and is always growing. Second, it grows and infects another person; it spreads to another and seeks to be part of the community. And in the end, in order to calm the soul, it justifies itself. It grows, it spreads, and it justifies itself.”
What an insidious strategy! It’s easy to feel justified in our complaints, in sharing them with other people, and in presenting a case for why we’re right. But we don’t have to go along with the temptation. Pope Francis continued, “Our Christian life is a struggle. That’s because the Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness. We mustn’t be naïve, right?”
Don’t be naïve. Remember that you aren’t fighting against flesh and blood—your annoying co-worker, your boundary-pushing teenager, or your bragging neighbor. So don’t take it out on them. Rather, engage your real enemy the best way you can—by staying close to Jesus, King of kings, who has conquered the devil.
“Jesus, help me see the true battle lines—and to trust in your victory!”
Psalm 144:1-2, 9-10; Luke 13:31-35
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