This morning’s gospel reading (MT 8:28-34) made me think I was reading a sketch for a cartoon that could easily be visualized. I mean no disrespect but I could see the two “demoniacs” (people who were possessed by an evil spirit) walking from a cemetery toward the person most full of light and pleading with him to have nothing to do with them. The light-filled person (Jesus) spies a herd of pigs, pulls the demons out of the men and sends the demons into the pigs whereupon the pigs rush down a steep bank into the sea and are drowned. If it were a cartoon, children (and adults) would laugh at the flight of the pigs and cheer for the healer as well as the healed. But the story is not meant to be entertainment. It speaks to the reality of evil in the world. We don’t much hear about exorcisms in our day (except in movies) but they do happen. Additionally, we are praying constantly for evil to be overcome and peace to come to our world. Without undue anxiety, we need to recognize that all is not right with the world and we need to do whatever we can to assure that we are not seduced by poor choices or laziness in our spiritual practices. In this way we will add to the light rather than allowing the darkness.
And just one more note. Recognition of bad influences is not always easy. Take the cartoon, for instance. There has been a lot written about the violence contained in such entertainment. I would never – as a child – have called Bugs Bunny or anyone associated with him a violent creature but there’s a lot of physical and verbal violence in those “oldie but goodie” scenarios. And today the visual images change so swiftly in movies (animated or not) and even commercials that our conscious minds cannot always process them although the images are entering our visual field sometimes subconsciously or totally without our awareness at all. While my day does not promise a trip to the movies, I will try to stay aware of what is coming at me in my experiences of the day so that nothing can slip in without my knowing it and so that more light will be my goal in everything I do.