A few weeks have passed since the winter solstice. While our days of light are lengthening, so too do I welcome the growth of Christ in us as the Light of the World. This is especially important as sometimes we feel a post-holiday letdown.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve often felt worried and discouraged that in spite of Christ having come and lived among us, in spite of his teaching us about the kingdom of God, I wonder why there is still such misery around and within us. Before you know it, I’m sliding down into the “slough of despondency,” as the Pilgrim’s Progress describes it.
Little by little, as I allow myself to be taught by our divine Teacher (and one or two earthly ones), I’m given the grace to understand that such unhealthy doubts, fears, concerns about salvation or the afterlife, are definitely not from God, but from whatever we call “the evil one.” With enormous relief, I realize that God does not wish anything for us but joy and peace.
Unfortunately, some of us have an incomplete understanding of what constitutes joy and peace. We think it is something like La La Land, nothing but fun and games. Such a simplistic kind of pleasure indicates that we have not yet learned to digest spiritual “meat,” but are still feeding on the “milk” of spiritual infants (See post of November 28, Advent and Our Life in Christ).
Not that we can, by ourselves, counteract fears, doubts, and all the other demons that love to attack us.
There are many accounts of Jesus driving out demons. He is said to have freed Mary Magdalene (my patroness) of seven demons. Totally liberated, how could she not become entirely devoted to him?
By persisting in prayer, God’s joy and peace will enable us to rise above the flood of negativity where we’re helplessly (but not hopelessly) mired. With the Holy Spirit’s strength, we can gradually learn to develop a more constructive viewpoint and more positive habits. I once discovered that many of my negative thoughts started with “D” as in Demon. Here’s my list — many more than Magdalene’s seven:
Yet for every Demon, God has shown me an effective counterweight: God’s Delights. You can probably come up with your own, but here again is my list:
Thinking about these gifts helps, but for me the best of all cures is contacting a friend who may need encouragement even more than I do. This reaching out unfailingly provides the life-preserver both of us need: the love of friend for friend. St. John was right:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
May the Light of Christ continue to grow within us.