Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Evil
The thought of evil in a world created by a God of Goodness appears to be a contradiction. But, evil does exist and we need to have some answer to it. To-day's readings, particularly the first from Deuteronomy and the third from St. Mark's Gospel, touch directly on this subject. St. Paul's epistle deals with another subject, the vocations of celibacy and marriage.

Deuteronomy 18: 15-20 Moses was one of the great prophets chosen to lead God's People in their struggle against evil. After him would come others and, ultimately, One would come who would be the ideal and complete Teacher. For us, Christ is that Leader.

Epistle Cor 7:32-35: - For Paul, his choice of celibacy as a state of life was not based on a contemptuous view of marriage. Both are worthy vocations having merit in the sight of God. The practical advantages of the celibate state for his work, to him, made sense.

Gospel Mark 1:21-28: Jesus' strength as a leader rested on the authority and uniqueness of his teaching - " here is a teaching that is new and with authority behind it!". He was not to be regarded merely, as a wonder-worker depending on the marvellous to convince the people. Today's passage clearly shows Christ confronting evil in the possessed soul and overcoming it.

Point 1: Obviously in the few minutes available, it is not possible to deal with this subject of evil exhaustively. But, its presence cannot be denied; it confronts us at every turn, and we need to have some form of defence against it. Take, for example, the field of entertainment; here we encounter one constant topic! Evil! And, in today's treatment, unlike in times gone by, good does not always triumph. We have watched psychic, or demonic, evil been presented in a variety of blockbusters - Exorcist 1 & 11; Omen 1, 11, 111, & 1V at last count; and many others. Physical evil also is a favourite with producers - films centred on abuse, rape, senseless violence, drug addiction and obscenity. Social evil stemming from deformed social structures - depression, misery, hunger, war, tyranny, exploitation and torture - also form part of the basic entertainment diet. I venture to think that all such treatments are box-office material because the producers are aware of a deep-seated fascination for evil that each of us has. Madame Tussard's and the Museum of Death recently launched in the US. The Chamber of Horrors at so many "Amusement Parks" - the list goes on. There is no doubt, a powerful dynamism of evil is at work in our society. It would be naive at this stage of human history, to think that scientific enlightenment holds the answer. In the past seventy - five years or so, a time of great scientific advance, the presence of evil at all three levels - the psychic, the physical and the social - has never been more apparent.

Point 2:‚  This morning, time does not permit delving into all the reasons of such evil other than to say that, with the exception of evil resulting from natural disaster - earthquake, fire or flood - much of the evil that we encounter stems from the way in which people use their God-given gift of free will. So frequently the choices we make produces the evil we lament. St. Paul touches on this contradiction in his letter to the Romans 7:19 "For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want I do".

Conclusion:‚  Whilst we do not understand fully the presence of evil, we cannot deny its existence and we need an answer to it. St. Peter warns -"Be calm but vigilant because your enemy the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat. Stand up to him, strong in faith". Therein we have the key to our response as Christians - to recognise that goodness is stronger than evil Jesus has the power to drive out evil. We may not understand completely the how, the why, or the what of evil, but we can know the "whither" - namely, through the power of Jesus, evil is going to eventual destruction. The battle lines between Evil (Satan) and Goodness (God) were drawn at the very dawn of human history. In Genesis the warning is given - "I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman" and the outcome is described in St. Paul's letter to the Romans:-

Scriptural reference: There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. :[Rom 2:9-11]