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We Defeat Evil By Praising And Thanking With Jesus

Author: Fr Pat Collins CM

Picture: Andy Drozdziak

We Defeat Evil By Praising And Thanking With Jesus

When we seem to face implacable silence and darkness, we need to thank and praise God, knowing that He will vindicate us as He vindicated Jesus, says Fr. Pat Collins. 

For me, one of the most significant effects of Baptism in the Spirit was a sense that Christ had walked through the skin of my body to live within me. 

That sense of the divine indwelling has profound implications. As paragraph 521 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us.” 

That means that Jesus continues his prayer to the Father, in and through us, the members of his mystical body on earth.

In this reflection, I want to say that when we thank and praise God, we are united by the power of the Spirit with the thanksgiving and praise of Jesus.

Praying Against The Power Of Evil

Recently, I have been praying fervently against the power of evil, which is attacking someone I know.

In spite of my best advice, and many, many prayers, absolutely nothing has moved. It has been very discouraging. It is as if the devil is mocking me and the person I am praying for and saying: Your trust in God is misplaced, you are useless and worthless; I am in control-why don’t you admit it?

When Jesus was facing the powers of evil, and asked for help in the Garden of Gethsemane, he didn’t seem to receive any. God was silent. Nevertheless, we are told that, at the last supper, “He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me'" (Lk. 22:19). Mt.26:27 adds: “Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you.'”

With good reason Joachim Jeremias said in his New Testament Theology, “We may suppose that thanksgiving dominated the life and prayer of Jesus.” As Jesus headed towards his definitive confrontation with the powers of evil, he thanked God, in anticipation of vindication and blessing.

Praying With Jesus On The Cross

When he was hanging on the cross in exterior darkness, and a spiritual cloud of darkness enveloped his own soul, Jesus spontaneously recalled the words of Psalm 22:1: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Although he had been able to drive out evil spirits in the past, it seemed as if the powers of evil were finally in the ascendency and irresistible.

I sometimes imagine that the evil one was saying in mocking tones to Jesus as he died in ignominy. "He calls blest the destiny of the righteous and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him in the end” (Wisdom 2:16-17).

Some people believe that, when Jesus quoted the words of Ps 22:1 they were an expression of despair. This is not true.

"Express Our Unconditional Trust In Prayers Of Thanks And Praise"

As Albert Gelin has stated in  The Psalms Are Our Prayers, it is quite likely that Jesus continued to pray the rest of the psalm quietly in his heart. If so, he went on to say: “In the congregation I will praise you. You who fear the Lord praise him! . . . Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or distained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help . . . those who seek the Lord will praise him” (Ps 22:22-26).

When we seem to face implacable silence and darkness, we need to thank and praise God in the belief that, just as God the Father vindicated Jesus who trusted in him, so, sooner or later, he will vindicate our cause as we express our unconditional trust in prayers of thanks and praise.

Just as the matador steps aside from the charge of a raging bull and stabs him with his sword, so we will avoid the attack of the evil one by utilising the red cape of thanks and praise, and wounding him with the sword of the prophetic word, which we receive from God and wield on Christ’s behalf.

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