Fighting Evil: The Power of the Ordinary

Scripture and the lives of the saints show us the power and majesty of God – the mighty deeds that He can work in the world and the many ways He can crush evil. And so when we think of fighting against evil we often think of miracles and mighty deeds. It can lead us to think we have to do something extraordinary to fight against evil in our own day.

But on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Father Matthew Spencer, OSJ told of another passage in Scripture, the story of Naaman and Elisha, that shows the power of the ordinary in finding healing and in fighting evil. He said:

“To summarize the story, [Naaman] goes out, he goes to see Elisha, and the prophet Elisha tells him something very simple – to go dip in the side of the River Jordan a few times and that will heal his leprosy. And [Namaan] walks away mad.

He walks away irate, saying ‘I came all this way to bathe in that dirty river? We have better rivers where I come from. He wants me to do something so simple and so ordinary.’

I love this because his servants come up to him, after Naaman has been told to do something so ordinary and he doesn’t like it. He is offended and starts to walk off, but his servants say, ‘Wait a second. Let’s think through this. If he had told you to do something really extraordinary, you would have done it. But he’s asking you to do something really simple. Could it really hurt? Why not just try it? Just do something very simple and ordinary, and maybe that is what you need. Maybe this prophet has power from God and he can help you.’

So Naaman does and he is cured of his leprosy, and God is made known. What a beautiful example. The reason I’m sharing it with you is this: your spiritual life and mine follow a similar pattern.

I was thinking about this because … the designated exorcist for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis was offering advice to help people who are experiencing some kind of demonic influence like harassment or oppression. Different things that you don’t necessarily need the help of an exorcist or an exorcism, but that you feel attacked and you feel that the Evil One is there.

So what do you do? What is Father Lampert’s advice to protect yourself? First of all, you go back to the basics. You get back to what seems really simple, but you do it well. You pray, you go to Confession, and you go to Mass, and you do these things devoutly.

And, in fact, he says that if you are doing these things the devil is already on the run. The devil is already fleeing from you. The devil can’t stand the beauty of the Mass. The devil gets so frightened and afraid before the mercy of God that is made manifest inside the sacrament of Confession.

Not to say these will cure all things. That’s why we have the sacramental of an exorcism. But in most cases, deepening your spiritual life and doing the ordinary things and doing them well is going to have a positive, profound impact in your life.

Sometimes, like Naaman, we can want to go out and find some extraordinary solution to our problems. Like Naaman, oftentimes God, through his prophets and through the Church herself, will say that what you need to do is something rather ordinary, something rather simple. And like Naaman we can become upset and think that is bad advice.

We can try to figure out how we can do something more extraordinary, when if we could just get back to the basics, if we could attend Mass with more reverence, be present and avail ourselves of the graces made present to us in the sacraments, we could realize what a devout prayer life can do for us, and the protections that it will establish for us against evil.”

Listen to the full reflection below:

St. Joseph’s Workshop with Father Matthew Spencer airs weekdays at 7:00 p.m. Eastern/4:00 p.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.