The first reading today offers us a quick summary of deeds that were accomplished and sufferings that were endured by men and women in the Old Testament on the strength of their faith and hope in God. And yet, we are told, they “did not receive what had been promised” in its fullness. It was only in Christ that God’s promises started to reach their fulfillment.
The psalm reinforces the idea that sometimes we have to wait before God answers our needs, but that He is listening to us nonetheless and will, in due time, come to our aid; God has great goodness in store for those who revere Him, are faithful to Him, and take refuge in Him.
The Gospel reading shows us how Jesus does in fact bring us the wonderful gifts promised to those who believe in Him. He does this throughout His public life, by healing, forgiving, feeding the multitudes, and helping those in need in many ways. One of the most dramatic ways He brings salvation to people is by exorcising demons, as He does in today’s reading.
It’s good for us to be reminded from time to time that there are, in fact, some angels who turned away from God, oppose Him, and try to make us do the same. The worst thing that can happen to us is not physical illness or death; it is separation from God. Satan, the most powerful of the fallen angels, and all those who sided with him, are suffering from that separation, but they cannot force us to join them. We can and should call upon God and the angels who are faithful to him to help us, freeing us and defending us from the influence of Satan and his followers. Not that we should expect to see dramatic scenes like in popular movies about exorcisms – such things are very rare – but we all fight against sin and temptation every day, and it is not all just due to our own weakness. So, I’d like to close by praying the Prayer to St Michael the Archangel, which for decades was prayed after every Mass:
Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
by the Divine Power of God –
cast into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.