Monday, January 24, 2011

Jesus -- The "Strong Man" of Your Heart

As I listened to the speeches at the March for Life on EWTN, I heard one Congressman after the next reminding us that the struggle toward an abortion-free world begins with us, with our prayers and with our actions. They spoke about the "culture of death" having a stronghold on our hearts, but that dramatic changes were just on the horizon. The youth of our culture are becoming more visibly pro-life. These passionate words reminded of the Mass readings. The Gospel of Mark reads:
But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house.(Mk 3:27)
Jesus was speaking about the outrageous notion that by the power of Satan He casts out demons. Jesus points out that there must be someone who is strongest. And, if He were in league with the devil, their house would fall because two would be struggling for headship. Jesus proves that He is casting out demons by His own power over them as God.

Satan is not the antithesis of Jesus. Jesus is God; He is Supreme. The adversary of Satan is St. Michael the Archangel. The prayer to his honor reads: "St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil."

What we might ask is: Who has claim to the "house" of my heart? If we belong to Jesus, Satan will never have the power to "tie up the strong man" and "plunder his house." He can't; he was created, just as the other angels were created, and chose against God. He has no power over Jesus because they are not equals. That is our great hope for salvation in the battle against the demons that invade our lives. He does have power over us, if we let him. And so, we must guard our hearts.

Satan likes to play with our resolve. He tempts us to give in to our weaknesses. Sometimes, he doesn't even have to work at all -- we have gotten so far away from God all on our own that he can just sit back and laugh at his need for limited effort in capturing souls. But, Jesus tells us that he, Satan, must overcome the "strong man to plunder the house" of our hearts.

We have to shore up our hearts against attacks each and every day. Although the victory is won over sin and death by the once and for all Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, the battle in our lives to remain faithful is constant. It is easy to be tempted away from our prayer each day by something as simple and harmless as an invitation to coffee; volunteering to for a million things when prudence tells us we're already doing too much. Disciplining our hearts and minds is important; it helps us to avoid those little seemingly innocuous temptations that take us away from Christ, making it easier to rationalization and become indifferent to issues like abortion. Satan loves to tweak this process. He is the real "devil in the details," hoping we dismiss his presence, responding only to enticements and pleasures.

We should never allow Satan to be the strong man in our heart. And if by some sad circumstance he is, don't despair and lose hope; he can never be the strongest. Jesus is God, more powerful than any fallen angel and his minions.

Sacred Heart of Jesus & Immaculate Heart of Mary
These two hearts promise to show mercy and offer compassion on the journey through the struggles of this world toward the great reward of heaven. Imitating the Sacred and Immaculate hearts will help us recognize that Satan has no power over us. Every soul matters from the moment of conception to natural death.

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