What strikes me most about this week’s readings is the balance between body and spirit, mercy and justice. There is no possibility here for exalting spirit over body or justice over mercy. One of the major problems in our world is the dualistic philosophy and some theology that pervades our culture today. In other words, so many people think it doesn’t matter what I do with my body or how I treat my body, because it doesn’t affect my soul or my eternal salvation. So many in the world consider the body bad and the soul good, forgetting BOTH are created by God and for God.
In the first reading from the Book of Numbers, God takes a “piece” of the spirit of Moses and places it on seventy elders to help them prophesy of behalf of Moses. God is bestowing grace and it comes to “rest” upon them, as it will do upon His own Son Jesus at His Baptism in the River Jordan and us at the baptismal font. It is not just our soul that is baptized, but the body as well. It is not just our soul that is saved, but our bodies as well, when they are re-united with our soul at the Second Coming of Christ. God yearns to bestow His divine grace upon all of us, “would that all the people of the Lord were prophets.”
The Responsorial Psalm mentions body and soul, as well. Psalm 19 states: “the precepts of the Lord give joy to the Heart,” and that His laws refresh the soul. The psalm also mentions sin and the affects of “wanton sin” on us servants of God, which will be addressed in the Holy Gospel. St. James points out in the Second Reading that sin will “devour the flesh” and that due to our fallen human nature, we tend to treat others unjustly and use others for our sake, but this is not a precept of the Lord or who He created us to be in the Garden of Eden. This injustice is against our dignity and wounds others, as well as clouds them of the understanding of their inherent value as children of God. The Second Reading also shows the ramifications of going out of spiritual balance and how our lives become more and more open to further and deeper sins and vices. This can lead to further vice and evil dominating our lives, which can manifest itself, as it does in the Holy Gospel for today.
The devil is constantly rebelling against the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and against our own bodies, because we wants to mock God and His Creation. The more sin we invite in our bodies and souls, we invite the Evil Spirit behind the sin, in our lives. Driving out demons is a command of Jesus to all our Catholic priests, not just during the Rite Of Major Exorcism, when someone is possessed, with priests officially appointed by the bishop, but in everyday ministry. The best way a person can allow a priest to drive out sin, vice and evil in their hearts is by going to the Sacrament of Confession, which is worth more than 100 exorcisms. It is a spiritual work of mercy by God to the penitent, as well as the priest, who is an instrument of God’s mercy. People should not leave Holy Mass early until the priest blesses them. Also, priests praying over people with his consecrated soul and hands can be very healing to people. The blessing of homes and places of business can have a protecting affect, as well. The more we are healed of our wounds, that can cause sin and division, the more we can be instruments of God in healing others. We should never be the cause of directly causing others to sin or tempting others to sin. The more our wounds remain unhealed, the more we will be manipulated by the devil and are instruments of pain, harm, sin and woundedness in others. So, let us allow the Lord to send His Spirit to “rest” on us and heal us so that we will be instruments of His healing grace and a portal of love for others. Amen.
Father Tom DeSimone was ordained a priest on May 13, 2006, the Feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. He most recently served as Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in White Plains, NY. He join the staff of the Theology of the Body Institute on a three year leave from the Archdiocese of New York, to become the Institute’s first full time spiritual advisor and Director of Clergy Development.