Our gospel today says the apostles anointed the sick, and drove out demons.
When was the last time you anointed someone? Well, actually, you anointed someone Friday night. I went over to Methodist Hospital in Arcadia and anointed an elderly man dying in the critical care unit. I was the one who put the oil on his head. But in a real way you were there.
The Sacraments are the actions of the whole Body of Christ. You are members of that Body. The Catholic Catechism says,“It is the whole community, the Body of Christ united with its Head, that celebrates(the sacraments).” (1140)
When we pray our family prayer, the “Our Father,”we pray, “give us this day our daily bread.” We are praying for our whole church family. So thank you for your prayers that accompanied the anointing. In a very real way you were there.
When was the last time you drove out demons? Ah, that may take some thinking. We may imagine demons as ugly creatures with a pitchfork. But real demons are more frightening than that.
Just look at the headlines. As a country we still battle the demon of racism. It is a very persistent demon.
It seems that the whole world is battling the demon of violence,which includes acts of terrorism, gun violence, war.
There is the demon of abortion. Violence in the womb.
There are the demonic attacks against marriageand family values.
There are the demons that accompany the immigrant issue.
The demon ofgreedhas been with the human race from the beginning. How can a country have so many multi-million dollar homes and so many homeless?
Then there are the personal demons. The demon of addiction to alcohol, food or pornography.
Some face the demon of depression, fear, or self-doubt.
What can we do to help our world, our nation, our people who are battling demons? It all starts with compassion.
A brief story. One day a man put up a sign in his yard that read: "Puppies for Sale." Among those who came to inquire was a young boy. "Please, Mister,"he said, "I'd like to buy one of your puppies if they don't cost too much."
"Well, son, they're$25."
The boy looked crushed. "I've only got two dollarsand five cents. Could I at least look at them? "
"Of course.Maybe we can work something out,"said the man.
The boy’s heart danced with delight at the sight of those five little balls of fur.
The man said, “The puppy in the corner is not for sale. She has a bad leg, and will always be crippled.”
The little boylooked…"That's the puppy I want. Could I pay for her a little at a time?"
The man responded, "But she'll always have a limp. Shewon’t be able to run and jump and fetch for you."
Smiling bravely, the boy pulled up one pant leg, revealing a brace. "I don't run and jump so good either."Then, looking at the puppy sympathetically, he continued, "I guess she'll need a lot of love and help. I sure did. It's not so easy beingcrippled."
"She’s all yours, son,"said the man. "I know you'll give her a good home. And….forget about the money."
It all starts with compassion. Compassion is linked to understanding. Understanding leads to love. And it is love that can cast out demons.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot cast out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot cast our hate. Only love can do that.”
I would add,“Love unites us with Christ. And it is his love that casts out demons.”
Compassion… Compassion can unite a world. Twelve boys trapped in a cave. The whole world was united in feelings of compassion, in feelings of hope, and finally in feelings of joy at their rescue.
A final thought and quote…. Two Sundays ago we heard about Jesus being ridiculed before he raised a young girl from death. Last week we heard how Jesus was rejected by his townspeople in Nazareth. Today Jesus warns his followers about being rejected. The prophet, Amos, in our first reading, is rejected, expelled. St. Paul tells us about the many trials he encountered when preaching the gospel.
We are followers of Christ. We stand for truth. We speak out against injustice. We stand up for life. We work for peace. And guess what? We too will be mocked, insulted and made fun of. Some may even die.
The example of Jesus and his followers reminds me of this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly;
who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
May the courage of Christ and of his Apostles be with us all.