An Effective Way to Ward Off Evil
#AnEffectiveWayToWardOffEvil is the podcast for June 18, 2017. The Movie the Exorcist made everyone scared in 1973, with its spinning heads and cosmic puking all over the place. Mark Kurowski makes the case that warding off evil is so much simpler than we make it out to be. The “secret” is no secret at all. The answer is found in The Feast of the Body of Christ. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Exorcist #CorpusChristi #BodyofChrist #Eucharist #Amorth #MalachiMartin #Evil #Sacrament #SpiritualBody #LindaBlair
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For My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 6/18/2017 The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Please pause this audio and read John 6:51-58.
In 1973, the movie “The Exorcist” came out. It was a cultural bombshell. It starred Linda Blair as a possessed girl that Fr. Malachi Martin would exorcise. It was complete with spinning head, green scarred body, bed rising, and cosmic puke thrown up all over. The girl was possessed by a demon. The movie scared the living daylights out of every one of us. Even those who were not religious were asking, “Hmmm, what can I do to avoid being possessed?”
I have a particular interest in exorcism. I have a healthy fear of evil. Yet, as I read about exorcisms and priests who are exorcists, one fact jumps off the page at me about avoiding demon possession. According to the exorcist Fr. Gabriel Amorth, may he rest in peace, there are two ways to avoid demon possession: going to Confession, [which I offer before every Mass,] and partaking of the Eucharist.
Now, why would that be? Isn’t the battle a spiritual one? Why would taking a piece of bread and a sip of wine into our bodies make a difference?
We think of our bodies as bags of carbon atoms stitched together. That is not how God thinks of our bodies. God thinks of our bodies as Temples in which he dwells. Our bodies are walking Tabernacles in which the Lord resides. He gives life to our souls which are in our bodies. Our bodies also are receptors of the spiritual things. Jesus keeps pointing to this fact in the Gospel of John. The spiritual body that Jesus has in John 20 is fully physical and is the prototype of the physical body that we will have when we rise from the dead on the last day. Our bodies are important to our spirituality. We should take good care of them.
Demon possession is simply the devil moving into the tabernacle of our body and taking over. He is the great Poser. The Devil is the imposter posing as God within us. Yet, if we keep introducing Jesus to the tabernacle of the House called our body, then there is no room for evil. There is no room for the Devil. Believe me, the sure and certain way that evil enters into us is through the senses of the body because they feel good. So, the exorcists say that the sure way to keep evil out is to put Jesus in.
It is really ingenious if you ask me. God provided bread for the journey for the Hebrews in Egypt as they passed over into the promised land. God provides food for the journey of Christians to remain holy as we Passover from Death to Eternal Life at the Second Coming. Where the Hebrews only had bread that fed their bodies to sustain them, we have the Bread of Life who sustains us through this life into the next. How? How does He do that?
There is no more intimate act between two humans than the joining of their bodies in conjugal love. We are obsessed with sex because it feels good. Yet, the scandal for us Christians about indiscriminate sex is that we know there is no more intimate act of sharing of the self, body AND soul, than the connection of two bodies together in love. We know that the body is a spiritual vehicle. What we do with our bodies, we do in our spirit and soul. What we do with our spirit and soul, we do with our bodies. So, connection with any being is the most intimate of unions that we can do with our body as the conduit to the soul.
Have you ever wondered why we called the Eucharist, or the sharing of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ “Communion”? It is because when we receive the Body and Blood of Christ into our bodies, it is a “common union” that we have with the God of the Universe. The one who said, “I am the Bread of Life, he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life” enters into our bodies and our souls and renews us every week. That can never get old.
Every week, we face new challenges in life. Every week, we can fall prey to being tempted to leave behind the life of love, fellowship, generosity, goodness, kindness, and self-control. Life is hard. Although there are many “Rom-Coms” that try to tell us that everything ends in a happy ending, that is not how life plays out. There are terrible disappointments in life. It would be easy for us to bail on the God of the Universe if we thought that the purpose of faith was to make life easy. That is why the Hebrews grumbled in the desert so much. They thought representing the God of the universe came with the prized perk of an easy life. That is not true.
St. Paul and the prophet Jeremiah are great examples of how following God can be hard. Where do we find sustenance for the journey of life, especially when it is hard? We find it in the Body and Blood of Christ. He is our Bread for the journey and our Cup of Salvation. Our sustenance is when we take the God of the Universe, made available to us in the bread and the wine, and we invite him into our bodies in the most intimate of acts that any human being can make. When we receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ [like we will here today] we receive into our bodies the power that created the Universe and all that is in it.
When we receive the body and blood of Christ, we receive the healing power of God. When we receive the body and blood of Christ, we receive the power that parted the Red Sea, the power that raised the dead to life, the humility that came in a manger, the patience to wait for the right time to be in ministry, the forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery, and the power of the one who rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. All of that comes into us.
Think of this, the One who is outside of the created universe wanted to be one with you so badly, that he made a way through the consecration of a small piece of bread and a sip of the cup. That says a lot about God as we know him. He truly is a Good Shepherd, a Gentle Father, who comes down to his children. He does not make us struggle to come to him and fix life on our own! No! He comes to us, small, able to fit on the palm of our hand and lightly touch our lips. He comes with power, mighty to save, through the Body and Blood, Bread and Cup. It is a great statement of the humility, goodness, kindness and gentleness of God.
It is in stark contrast to the way the Devil carries on in the movie the Exorcist. It makes you realize that he is compensating for something. That is why it is a scandal to the Jewish people to whom Jesus preached. It was a scandal because they expected big political things, they never suspected renewal of themselves to be better people through a small sip of the Blood and taste of the Body.
So, [today,] when you come to receive the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of our Lord, I want you to keep in mind a few things. First, you are receiving the God of the universe into your body and soul. Second, you are being healed and renewed. Third, you are being forgiven of your sins through this amazing act. Fourth, your prayers are being heard intimately at that moment. And Fifth, you are protecting yourself from evil.
Knowing all that, why wouldn’t we want to taste and see that the Lord is good? Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2017.
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian