“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

Mark 1:24

Monday, 1 February 2021

Mark 1:21-28

For a moment, suspend your rational scepticism regarding the reality of the spiritual realm, and your belief that all the possession stories can be explained away by modern medical science. For a moment, experience the horror of not having any conscious control of your thoughts, your desires or your actions. Does this thought experiment seem too unrealistic for you? Talking to the family members of addicts or people who have schizophrenia may be illuminating.

The evil spirit speaks in the plural though it later becomes evident that the “us” it refers to is both itself and the person it is possessing. Two minds are fighting for control of this person. This two-mindedness, these opposing forces fighting for control of the man, and yes, of ourselves too, can lead us away from our most authentic self.

This experience of being controlled by other desires, by the deeper and maybe darker side of ourselves, is not a new insight. If you have ever felt deeply divided in yourself about who you are, who you want to be, and the actual behaviours you exhibit, you are not alone. We need to look no further than St Paul writing to the Romans. In Chapter 7 he confesses to not doing the good that he wants and continuing to do the evil that he does not want to do.

Our divided minds and divided hearts are symptoms of our human condition, but we are not doomed to follow the internal paths that lead us away from life.

Take some time today to become aware of the different forces acting in you. How do these forces move you in one direction rather than another? By doing this, we are taking the first step to consciously making better and more life-giving choices for ourselves and others.

Lord Jesus,

In those moments, when I feel hopelessly divided, help me  to follow your light, your voice, your way. Heal me of my division so that I may love you with a whole heart.

Amen.

 
Fr Bruce Botha SJ

Fr Bruce Botha SJ was born in Durban, KZN. He received a diploma in education from the University of Natal and then taught physical science for 4 years at Scottburgh High School. He joined the Society of Jesus and did his noviciate in Cape Town. He then studied philosophy in London and theology in Berkeley, California. Between philosophy and theology, in the period of formation known as regency, he worked as the director of counselling for an HIV research centre. After ordination in 2006 he worked in Holy Trinity, Braamfontein and is currently the parish priest of St Martin de Porres, Orlando West and Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg.

b.botha@jesuitinstitute.org.za
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