Daily Reflection April 25 2008: St. Mark the Evangelist

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About the Saint:

Saint Mark went with Saint Paul on his first missionary journey, along with his cousin Barnabas. He made later journeys with Barnabas alone. He was in Rome with Paul, and with Saint Peter. His Gospel is based on Peter’s teaching in Rome: it’s concise, direct and vivid style tells us something of Mark’s character. Tradition dating from the Third Century says that he founded the Church in Alexandria and was it’s first Bishop, while in a later tradition he is also associated with Venice.

Collect of the Day:

Father, you gave Saint Mark the privilege of proclaiming your Gospel. May we profit by his wisdom and follow Christ more faithfully.

We make our prayer through Jesus Christ your Son Our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, ever One God world without end. Amen.

Today’s Readings:

The First Reading: I Peter: 5:5-14: My son, Mark sends you greetings.

The Gospel: Mark: 16:15-20: Make known the Good News to every creature.

In today’s Epistle St. Peter exhorts us to:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”

He tells us to be vigilant because our adversary the Devil walks about seeking whom he may devour. But is there a need to be? The answer is a most definite YES. The Devil’s greatest weapon against Humanity is that most people do not believe he exists. But the Bible and the Church both teach that the Devil is real and does exist. The idea of what is presented to us in popular culture is often misleading. We see cute stuffed toy devils on sale for Valentine’s Day, comical portrayals of him on animated series like South Park and the Simpson’s, and movies that portray the Devil as infinitely more powerful than he really is.

The question then is who is the Devil? The Greek word Devil and the Hebrew word Satan are both names for the being that personifies all that is evil and opposed to God. Both names mean ‘Accuser’, showing that the nature of the Devil is to try to tempt people to do wrong so that they can be accused before God. But the battle between good and evil is not an equally balanced contest as it is often portrayed in the movies and on television. God is all powerful and eternal, while the Devil is a created being.

The Devil was created an Angelic Being and as such like all Angels was created in a state of grace. The initial sin of the Devil, which fixed him in evil, consisted in pride with a immoderate love of his own excellence and a desired equality with God. The fall of the other Angels was caused by their consent to his sin. While the Devil often appears to be in control, his ability to work is limited by the power of God.

We can clearly see how the Devil set himself against God’s work in the life of Jesus. Jesus was tempted by the Devil in the desert. Peter was used as a tool of the Devil and had to be rebuked by Jesus. The betrayal by Judas Iscariot was another part of the Devil’s work. He destroys and undermines by tricks and cunning, rather than by power. An example of how he does this is given by St. Ignatius Loyola in his “Spiritual Exercises”:

“The chief of all the enemy summons innumerable demons and scatters them. Some to one city and some to another throughout the whole world, so that no province, no place, no state of life, no individual is overlooked. He goes around to lay snares for men to seek to chain them. First they are to tempt them to covet riches, as Satan himself is accustomed to do in most cases, that they more easily obtain the empty honors of this world and then come to overweening pride. The first step then, will be riches, the second; honor, the third; pride, from these three steps the one leads to all other vices”

Although this sounds devastating we must understand that the Devil is a defeated foe! Jesus came to destroy the work of the Devil, and through His Passion, Cross and Resurrection the work of Satan is defeated once and for all. So why then must we be vigilant if he is defeated? It is because he is still active in the world until Christ’s return on the ‘Last Day’ when his defeat will become complete. He knows his time is short that is why “He is like a roaring lion,” seeking to drag others down with him while he still has time.

So we are called to be aware that he exists, and of how he operates in stimulating selfish desires within us that stroke our egos, but do not despair, remembering that God reigns supreme and is in control. God is the Lord of all creation and of all history and always will be.

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.” (Rev 12:10)

Msgr. Ian+

Closing Prayer:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.

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