Possesed by Demons

darkness cannot drive out darknessIn the Gospel reading for Sunday, June 7th from Mark 3 (2B Pentecost), we are encouraged to take seriously the power of evil present in our world. But we are to take more seriously (trusting with all who follow and do the will of God) that it is Jesus who embodies the power of God. Jesus’ work of casting out demons is ascribed as demonic, or from the devil. Mark warns that blasphemy, or ascribing to the devil that which is divine, is a sin that cannot be forgiven. But this contrasts with other biblical passages that indicate that God always forgives us.

We do have a tendency though to judge those who abuse alcohol, drugs, or others sexually or violently as somehow “possessed” by demons. We demonize others as monsters and condemn them by ostracizing them in the media, in prisons, and even through murderous retribution. Some would say Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon Bombing monster got what he deserved with the death sentence.

If we are made in God’s image (and God says we are), we cannot be monsters. If we do the will of God, we are called to cast out demons and bring healing, not called to demonize, judge, or kill one another. Christian singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens reminds us we are both saint and sinner in his bold and haunting song “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” about the serial killer…

And in my best behavior I am really just like him.
Look beneath the floor boards for the secrets I have hid.

It is easy to demonize others especially when they do evil, but as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn reminds, “the line between good and evil runs through our hearts.” Thankfully, Jesus casts out all our demons, forgives all the secrets we have hid, and loves us no matter how many saintly or sinful things we have done, because we are as Jesus calls us his mother or brother, made in God’s image and called to do God’s will.

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