mouth of Our Lord that evoke vivid and otherworldly images. I for one Gandalf fought in The Lord of the Rings, slowly plummeting into the

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1 Homily for 14 th Sunday of OT, Year C 2016 (Lk 10: 1-12, 17-20) Then Jesus said to them I watched Satan fall from heaven like a 1 flash of lightening. There are certain words that proceeded from the mouth of Our Lord that evoke vivid and otherworldly images. I for one imagine Jesus seeing the devil fall from heaven much like the Balrog that Gandalf fought in The Lord of the Rings, slowly plummeting into the abyss, vanquished and shrouded in fire, smoke and shadow. We should rightly ask what Our Lord is referring to when he speaks of Satan falling from heaven like a flash of celestial lightening. Is He speaking of something that occurred in the ancient past? Did it occur at the moment this scene of Holy Scripture unfolded during the public ministry of Jesus Christ? Or is Our Lord alluding to something that will happen in the future, at a time known only to God the Father? Or is the best way to interpret this passage of Sacred Scripture as understanding it as a description of the different instances that Our Lord has been victorious over the ancient serpent? During one of his prophetic visions, the Prophet Isaiah exclaimed how he beheld the fall of Satan: How you have fallen from heaven, O Day

2 Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid 2 nations low! (Is 14:12) Likewise, in the Book of Wisdom, we learn that God created man incorruptible, and to the image of His own likeness He made him. But by the envy of the devil, death came into the world. (Wis 2:23-24) In both Jewish tradition and the writings of the Early Church Fathers, these two passages from the Old Testament reveal what brought about the exile of Satan from heaven. Once a most exalted creature, the angel referred to as The Day Star or more commonly Lucifer, meaning the one who bears light, freely choose to become the devil when he learned that God planned to create humanity in His image and likeness. Lucifer refused to acknowledge the dignity granted to humanity and began a rebellion against God, to which other angels joined the cause. We read in the Book of Revelation that the Archangel Michael, prince of the heavenly hosts, accepted The Lord s plan to create humanity in God s image and likeness and took up the cause of doing battle with Lucifer and the fallen angels, resulting in their expulsion from heaven and imprisonment in hell, though with the ability to roam the

3 earth and patrol it as we know from the story of the serpent in the 3 Garden of Eden and from the Book of Job. It was Lucifer s envy that God would bestow so great a dignity upon His human children that compelled the devil to abandon the joys of heaven for the pains of hell and to bring death into creation by seducing Adam and Eve to choose sin over the love of God. Our Lord s declaration that He saw Satan fall from heaven like lightening allows us to think back to that moment at the dawn of creation when Michael and the angels defeated Satan and exiled Lucifer and the fallen ones from paradise. But Our Lord s words do not speak only of an event that happened long ago. The Church has also interpreted these words as referring to the joy Christ experienced in seeing how the ministry of His disciples was beginning to loosen the grip that demons had long held over humanity since their fall in Eden. Jesus had given His disciples a sharing in is own ministry of exorcism and their report that they were able to drive out the forces of darkness provided Our Lord with the chance to reveal to His

4 followers how their work of evangelization was helping to bring about 4 both the conversion of sinners and the downfall of the ancient foe. This victory would only be complete once Jesus would perform what we could call the final exorcism and casting out of Satan by His willingness to die upon the wood of the Cross. In doing so, Jesus brought an end to the reign of sin and death and set free those countless souls who had lingered in the underworld, also known as Sheol, and awaited their redemption. Once He breathed His last, Jesus immediately descended into hell and brought those who had waited for Him to the eternal joys of heaven. But we also know that while Lucifer was long ago cast out of heaven and that Christ defeated him by His sacrifice on the Cross, the devil is still very active in the world. St. Peter said The devil is like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Pet 5:8) Any priest involved in the ministry of deliverance prayer and exorcism or those who have had some encounter with a demonic presence will testify that the devil is still waging war against the followers of Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that we can also understand Our Lord s reference to Satan

5 falling from heaven like lightening to speak of the final victory by Christ over the devil at the end of time. 5 The 12 th chapter of the Book of Revelation speaks of the war that was long ago waged in heaven between the angels lead by St. Michael and the demons commanded by Lucifer. This war has yet to cease as the forces of Satan continue to look for opportunities to draw humanity away from God through tempting us to sin and in more rare but very real occurrences, through such activities as demonic oppression, paranormal activity in homes and even full demonic possession. The battle between light and darkness will continue until Our Lord returns in victorious glory at the end of all things, meaning it will be the lot of Christians to keep on guard against the assaults of the devil and fight against the evil one through prayer, turning away from sin, making use of those items blessed by the Church to defend us against Satan such as holy water and the St. Benedict Medal, and in more extreme circumstances, seeking the assistance of a priest or exorcist trained in liberating those who have come under the power of Satan.

6 In a time when many either think the devil is a superstitious 6 hangover from the past and that is unbecoming to think of angels and demons in our advanced scientific age, Our Lord reminds us to that the devil exists, and though fallen like lightening from heaven and defeated by the Cross of Jesus Christ, continues to wage a losing war against anyone who lives the life of a Christian. Satan is defeated but still dangerous and so let us always be on guard against the snares that he seeks to put in our paths. Let us never doubt that Our Lord has vanquished the devil and that whatever attacks Satan might launch against us can always be overcome if we take refuge in The Lord by turning away from sin and finding shelter in the shadow of His wings

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