In every walk of life there comes a time when we are making great progress. Our business is growing. Our relationships are filled with joy. Everything in our life seems to be heading in just the right direction, until suddenly the proverbial ratchet gets thrown into the works and everything comes to a standstill. If you have experienced this before, you know exactly the frustration I’m describing. If you haven’t yet, don’t panic when it happens. It happens to all of us. You ever wonder why?
In today’s Gospel (you can read the entire passage below) we witness this sort of moment in Christ’s ministry. People are gathering in growing numbers. Things were going so well, it is was difficult even to eat a meal since the crowd was so large. Jesus commissioned His Disciples to go “out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.” Using today’s terminology, you could say the church was growing and was very successful. Then, as it most always does, comes the turmoil, and they tried to seize Jesus.
The same thing can happen in our personal lives and in most churches, and for the same reason. Just when we are headed in the right spiritual direction, something happens to trip us up. This is because the devil sees our progress and will stop at nothing to get in our way. When we are headed for the cliff, the devil will do what he can to remove all obstacles, but when we are headed for God, the opposite is true. The important thing at that moment is to recognize what is happening and rather than get discouraged, hunker down and push head on through the turmoil.
In the Gospel passage that follows today’s reading, Jesus engages the crowd accusing Him, “How can Satan cast out Satan?” (Mark 3.23) Jesus teaches that Satan is at the root of our obstacles, and that only God can cast Him out. So if you are experiencing one of those moments in your life when all spiritual progress seems to have come to a crashing halt, don’t panic. Chances are you are making progress toward heaven and the devil is trying to trip you up. Call your spiritual father, schedule a confession and push through. Sooner or later, you will be looking back and thanking God for getting you through.
At that time, Jesus went up on the mountain, and called to him those whom he desired; and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons: Simon whom he surnamed Peter; James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, whom he surnamed Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew and Philip and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaios, and Thaddaios, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, "He is beside himself." – Mark 3.13-21