Patterns – Willy Samson, SJ

Mark 9:37-43, 45, 47-48, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

We are living and surrounded by people. But it takes a while for us to know their real colours and intentions. This is also true in our spiritual life, sometimes, we are not sure whether something in front of us is good or bad. Is it a temptation or challenge? Is it the will of God or my own will? We are not sure if something in front of us is a wild fox hiding in the sheep’s skin? We are poor in discerning.

In our Gospel today, the Lord gave us the importance of prayer as a gift for discernment – for us to know the motivations of our action, as well as to know whether this is coming from the good spirit or bad spirit. Through discernment, we can allow good works and good intentions to flourish, and prevent evil plans and impure intentions to rule us.

Thus, Jesus gave us two simple rules in discernment.

1. BE AWARE OF THE PATTERNS OF WORK. Any obvious pattern of inconsistency in terms of beliefs, values and principles? This is already a warning of the presence of the bad spirit. Hence, Jesus said, “There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.”

2. CUT ANYTHING THAT WILL ROB HEAVEN AWAY FROM US.

Once the presence of the evil spirit or impure motivation is clear to us, act immediately. Be decisive, firm and prompt in taking action against anything that will destroy our relationship with God. It is important to be extra diligent and prompt in removing harmful inordinate attachments that may hinder us from doing the will of God. Hence Jesus said, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into heaven maimed than with two hands to go into hell.”

Are you good in reading the patterns of good and bad spirits in your life? Are you aware of your own inordinate attachments that stop you from doing God’s will? Name three of your inordinate attachments. Are you doing something to remove them from your system? If not, why? Do you see the urgency of removing these inordinate attachments?

These inordinate attachments are the hold of evil over us. They keep us from becoming more free in following Jesus and being more open to love others. Most of the time, it’s not easy for us to detect our enemies. Thus, it is important for us to pray for the gift of discernment and wisdom, to know the wiles and lies of the evil spirit, as well as to know the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We should know our real enemies. To know their patterns of movements, lies and temptations is to overcome them. Pray hard and without ceasing. It is only in prayer that we can defeat the enemies of good.

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