Once when I was on retreat in a monastery in Ireland I greeted one of the monks, “How are you, Father?” He replied, “There is still a bit of the devil in me!” It sounds funny but it expresses a truth about all of us, “there is still a bit of the devil in us” because we have not yet overcome our attachment to sin.

“There is still a bit of the devil in me!” would certainly be true of the man with the unclean spirit in the Gospel today (Mark 1:21-28).

Perhaps no one would have suspected much was amiss with the man. He was in the synagogue on the Sabbath so he was obeying the Torah. Perhaps to outward appearances at least everything was in order. But inside he was “unclean.” That could be said about any of us. None of us is yet the wholesome and holy person we are called to be.

Jesus cleansed the man of the evil spirit. But it was not easy for the man. The spirit convulsed the man and came out of him with a loud cry (Mark 1:26). There is a sense in which we “convulse” when overcoming evil. If overcoming our attachment to sin were easy we would all be saints by now.

The problem, of course, is that we don’t want to face the spiritual “convulsing” involved in spiritual growth. It is easier to remain as we are because such necessary spiritual “convulsing” is letting go of our ego and our attachment to sin. That is precisely why we shy away from it, we don’t want to let go of our ego and attachment to sin.

Fr. Joseph