The Exorcist
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

I saw the movie, “The Exorcist” more than twenty years ago. I was just out of college and having read the reviews, I was curious about the movie. It was indeed gory and aroused the fearful imagination. I remember putting my feet up on my seat in one frightening scene. Even now, even if the CD versions are easily available, I am not inclined to view the movie again.

As a priest, I caution young people about activities that aim to contact spirits, even if it is just a game of “spirit of the glass”. I see these activities as opening the doorways into the supernatural world, or conversely, allowing unseen powers into our own threshold. One can never be too sure about what type of spiritual power will try to impinge into our life. I think praying for the souls of the dead and asking the saints to intercede for us are already enough ways to be in contact with the other world. There were many instances in the priestly ministry that I was called by family members to take care of a “possessed” relative, Most of the time, cases like these are resolved once the person is allowed to tell his story and the priest and community pray over him. In addition, the ritual of sprinkling of holy water does wonders.

Action starter: Count the “little victories” of goodness in your own surroundings.

Exorcising evil spirits or driving away demons is part of the ministry of the Lord. He preached about the kingdom of God. He healed the sick. He forgave sins. He drove away demons as this Sunday’s Gospel illustrates (Mk. 1:21-28). Jesus’ acts of exorcism are concrete instances of the conflict between good and evil. The hostile forces of evil cannot win over the power of goodness. These deeds of the Lord are concrete demonstrations of what the kingdom of God is all about. The kingdom of God is about the victory of goodness. Evil does not have the last say.

That goodness will triumph over evil is a statement of faith. It is a corollary of the faith-conviction that the Kingdom of God is presently being realized. It is this faith-conviction that provides courage, inspiration, and patient endurance to us contemporary Christian disciples. The conflict between good and evil today is not as dramatic as demonic possessions. The forces of evil today do not show themselves as frightening faces or as contorted bodies. As the movie title indicates, the devil today may wear Prada or any designer brand. He may be sending messages through the internet. He may be courteous, polite, well-educated and sophisticated.

The devil may not look devilish as some villains in movies are depicted. Nonetheless, he destroys lives and possesses souls. Jesus’ ministry of exorcism continues today. The followers of Jesus are engaged in exorcising not just demons, but all kinds of evil in the form of degrading poverty, victimization of the weak through human trafficking, proliferation of violence and the drug culture, wanton destruction of life sources and the environment, greed in its many forms. We can go on and on.

Lest we feel discouraged even before we begin, let us remember that goodness overcomes evil. It is a foregone conclusion. The battle may see-saw but in the end, God’s kingdom of love, peace, truth and justice will emerge victorious.