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Isaiah 22:19-23/ Romans 11:33-36 / Matthew 16:13-20

 

If you want to gain some really

insightful spiritual wisdom. . . .

pick up a copy of C. S. Lewis’

The Screwtape Letters.

 

This entertaining little book

is loaded with spiritual pearls!!!

 

It’s a series of letters

written by a senior demon—

Screwtape—

to a novice demon named Wormwood.

 

The elder Screwtape is full of

diabolical wisdom and experience

on how to pull Christians out of

the loving arms of God—

and into the vile arms of Satan.

 

And Screwtape knows us—

he knows the human

condition all too well.

 

Screwtape knows exactly how to tempt us.

 

In these letters,

Screwtape is coaching Wormwood

how to entice a young man

who has just started practicing

his Christian faith again after a long absence.

 

So how does a demon break into

This young man’s consciousness

to pull him back away from God?

 

What’s is the demonic strategy?

 

Well, Screwtape tells Wormwood

that just because their “patient”

is going back to church—

all is not lost.

 

As a matter of fact,

The Church itself is one of the demons’

biggest weapons. . . .

 

the visible church that is.

It’s so ingenious isn’t it. . . .

and it’s true.

 

So when this new revert walks

into his local parish church. . . .

the demons know just what to do.

 

They first tempt their “patient”

to focus on the Church building itself

if it’s in a state of disrepair. . . .

 

And tempt him to concentrate on the architecture. . . .

if it doesn’t raise one’s mind to God.

 

Or tempt him to notice that the floor is dirty. . . .

 

Or that it needs a new paint job.

 

Yes, tempt them to concentrate on

the actual church building itself

if it’s not another Notre Dame. . . .

or St. Peter’s.

 

And even more of a demonic weapon

than the church building itself. . . .

 

tempt the new Christian

to look around and focus on. . . .
well. . . .

focus on us Christians.

 

Oh, what weapons we are for Satan.

 

Tempt the newcomer to look around and

focus on those who are poorly dressed. . . .

 

or on those who are having a bad hair day. . .

 

or on those who came dirty. . . .

or on those who can’t sing and

have no clue of their caterwauling. . . .

 

or focus on those long and boring homilies.

 

And even more effective. . . .

even more effective. . . .

 

tempt the new revert

to notice how many hypocrites

are in the church when he walks in. . . .

 

He knows some of them personally. . . .

 

So the patient knows

that behind some of those smiles . . . .

are fangs thirsting for blood.

 

And that man sitting in the first row. . . .

he has a gambling problem. . . .

 

and that the lady in the back row. . . .

she’s been caught stealing a few times

down at Speedway

 

Yes, yes, tempt the “patient” to focus on

the hypocrites and the sinners. . . .

 

tempt them to focus on

the negative aspects of the visible church.

 

Oh, you can see how ingenious this is. . . .

And effective.

 

Doing this,

Screwtape says,

makes religion. . . .

makes the Church seem. . . .

well. . . .

 

ridiculous.

 

And what the demons don’t want—

what they absolutely don’t want

is for their “patient”—

to notice all of the positive things that

the visible church does. . . .

 

and wow,

there’s an abundance of those, aren’t they.

 

Through the centuries and today. . .

 

the visible Church feeds the poor. . . .

and runs hospitals. . . .

and is the witness to the

dignity of every human being.

 

Distraction is the demons’ game. . .

 

especially distracting their patient

from focusing on the whole

reality of the Church.

 

Both the visible and the invisible Church. . . .

 

The whole Mystical Body of Christ—

 

all the saints in heaven—

known and unknown.

 

And all those once hypocrites

who have been washed clean by

the blood of the lamb. . . .

 

All those saints known and unknown

who have changed the world. . .

 

Who have been. . . .

 

the aroma of Christ

 

Yes, distract them from this reality.

 

Distract them from the Church that exists not only in time. . . .

but in eternity.

 

Distract them from the Church that is already

Reigning victorious in eternity

because of the saving work of Jesus.

 

Distract them from the Church where

St. Michael the Archangel is a member. . .

 

Yes, he’s the one who has

his foot pressed against the throat of Satan.

 

Yes, the whole Church

visible and invisible—

in time and in eternity. . .

distract them from the fullness of the Church.

 

It’s nothing but demonic misdirection—

Sleight of hand

 

Can I offer an analogy of when the

visible church looks a bit bleak? . . .

 

Where it seems like we’re getting our butts

beat by Screwtape and Wormwood.

 

It’s like when a really great basketball team

is playing a really, really inferior opponent.

 

It’s late into the second half.

and the score is 108 to 14.

 

The Church of Christ’s score is 108. . .

The demons’ score is 14.

 

And they know they’re beaten. . .

 

they know what Christ did. . .

 

But before the final horn sounds. . .

they want to cause as much chaos as they can. . . .

 

they want to cause as much harm as they can. . .

 

so they just keep committing

flagrant foul after flagrant foul.

 

They just want to hurt the opposing team. . .

 

But the game. . . .

It’s essentially over.

 

They operate on a scorched earth policy. . .

 

So today Brothers and Sisters in Christ

 

Jesus tells us this most wonderful news

in just a few words:

 

And so I say to you, you are Peter,

and upon this rock I will build my church,

and the gates of the netherworld

shall not prevail against it.

 

Did you hear that?!?!?!?

 

Oh, we need to live it. . . .

 

And we need to spread it!!!!

 

Because we too can be tempted by the

Demonic sleight of hand

by focusing primarily—

primarily—

on the negative aspects of the visible church.

 

Now do these issues need to be addressed? . . .

Absolutely.

 

But such a primary emphasis

 

is short-sighted. . .

 

and myopic . . . .

 

and blind to the full reality of

the Mystical Body of Christ.

 

You see, we want to encourage

people to step into the bark of Peter . . . .

the Church . . .

 

which from an eternal perspective. . . .

from a cosmic perspective. . . .

 

the only place where we are safe. . .

and where we are saved.

 

And so I say to you, you are Peter,

and upon this rock I will build my church,

 

and the gates of the netherworld

shall not prevail against it.

 

Live it. . . .

 

And spread it.

 

Holy Spirit 08/22-23/2020