Saturday of the Twenty-SixthWeek in Ordinary Time
Our power over the demons
The seventy (-two) returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Lk 10,17-20
The first embryo of the church has started growing among the disciples, therefore the Master, after making the necessary recommendations, has sent seventy-two of them to live their first missionary experience. They had never been left alone to witness their faith in Jesus of Nazareth. I can imagine those disciples: they must have left with excitement and trepidation at the same time, and after a few kilometers must have looked in each other’s eyes, cheered up each other trying to repeat what they had seen done by the Master. They must have spoken of Jesus to the people, told a parable, and laid their hands to heal the sick, and maybe done some exorcism. Like all newcomers, they must have done a bit ‘of everything as well as some confusion, for sure. Today’s passage from the Gospel describes the joyful return of those early missionaries, who, full of wonder, exclaim: “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name”.
It is a wonderful and amazing experience which also happened to us in the 1980s, when prayer groups belonging to the Renewal of the Spirit sprouted in Italy here and there, like mushrooms. It was a new wave of evangelization which the Holy Spirit carried out by using ordinary people like us, who, with joy and enthusiasm, went and told what the Spirit was performing from a prayer group to another. One day I was in a prayer group in Busto Arsizio: after praying and praising the Lord, I got up and started to comment on a passage from the Gospel, in the light of new experience that the Holy Spirit was making us live. At a certain point, a woman started shaking and soon after, falling to the ground, began to crawl as a sinuous snake, creating great havoc among those present. That very moment the Lord enlightened me: “Keep still! – I announced at the microphone – and pray to Mary”. After a while, praying to the Virgin Mary, the lady came back to herself, she came back to sit decently on her chair and could not recall anything of what had happened. I told this fact because certain experiences, the same way they happened to those seventy-two disciples, can happen even today whenever you witness the gospel: the important thing is to remain steadfast in prayer. In particular, it is good to ask for the intercession of Our Lady.