When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said:
“By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons.”
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Weird analogy ahead; bear with me:
My new roommate and I recently made a trip to Target to get a few things for the apartment. At one point, after she reached for a box of plain, heavy-duty trash bags, she said to me, “I hope you’re okay with plain trash bags and not scented ones. I can’t stand the scented bags; they don’t actually get rid of the smell. They just make it smell like trash and perfume.” I laughed—yes, I was okay with the plain bags. And I understood where she was coming from.
The more I thought about it, the idea of masking the smell of trash seemed to draw parallels to the spiritual life. Sometimes, when we experience sin and suffering, we try to merely cover it up and pretend it isn’t there instead of actually rooting it out of our hearts. We turn to worldly distractions—food, drink, shopping, gaming—that will not actually heal our pain; they will only mask it a bit, while also adding more complicated emotions into the mix. Our avoidance will only make our sufferings more pungent; it won’t make them go away. Demons cannot drive out demons; new smells can’t drive out old smells.
Only Jesus can truly alleviate the pain in our hearts and mend what is broken. Fr. Mike Schmitz compares the experience of priests in confession to that of garbage men hauling away trash. They don’t really remember what exactly was in each bag—to them, it is all just trash, and they get rid of it. That grace is always available to us, but we often neglect to take advantage of it.
Let us confront the areas of our own hearts that are festering in sorrow and sin. Let us seek Jesus for healing instead of trying to mask our pain and guilt with constant distractions. And today, on this 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, let us turn to Our Lady, who shares in our sufferings and always seeks to bring us true comfort and healing.