Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Baptism floods our entire being with the love of God; by this rebirth God claims us as His own children. Yet there are those who would seek to establish a claim against Him, and we see this in today’s Gospel when we read of Christ driving out unclean spirits.

Unclean. “A clean heart create for me, O God; renew in me a steadfast spirit” writes the Psalmist. (Psalm 51:12) We receive baptism once, just as we are born into the world once yet our rebirth—just as our birth—is but the beginning of a life of growth. God receives us in baptism as His children, and the whole of our Christian life is the gradual growth and perfection of that work He has begun in us; even John writes in his letter, “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope based on Him makes Himself pure, as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2) The Father loves us as He loves His Son; His love purifies and perfects us to become more and more like His Son, washing away all that stands between us and His Love.

Satan, however, desires to possess us for himself. Notice the language that is used when we speak of the demonic—possession, oppression, obsession—as opposed to the reality of love as self-gift, free and receptive. What parent would stand by as their child is possessed by someone, oppressed, or someone becomes the target of their child’s unhealthy obsession? God is no different in this regard: hence at our own baptism there is done precisely what Christ does in today’s Gospel. At our baptism we rebuke Satan, rejecting any unclean spirit that might separate us from the love of our Father.

Most of us, again, were infants when this rebuke was made on our behalf, but we might take some time to examine ourselves to see how well we are living up to this powerful testimony against the Accuser. It may even be helpful to take the opportunity this week to renew our baptismal promises if we are so moved. So let us consider, brothers and sisters, how well we live the following: Do I reject Satan? And all his works? And all his empty promises?

Create a clean heart in us, Jesus, that we may give ourselves completely to our Father, do His works and receive joyfully all that He has promised to His children.

January 13th, 2015