It’s interesting how often there is a parallel between what we have in the readings at Mass and what we find in the daily newspapers that same day.
Today, for example, in the first reading at Mass taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, we were told that Our Divine Lord, through his death, might “destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the Devil.” Then, in the gospel reading from Saint Mark, the people of Capharnaum bring to Jesus “all who were ill or possessed by demons.” The Lord “drove out many demons” there, and then he made a tour of the north country, “driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.”
Then I pick up the Houston Chronicle, and I find it licking its chops by proclaiming to its readers that the Catholic Church in Poland is “convulsed by scandal.” It has to do with the fact that within the past few days, the priest who had been chosen to become the new archbishop of Warsaw has resigned because of some involvement he had with the Communist government in the days of the Russian domination of Poland, and he didn’t want to compromise the Church by having that information come out in the least favorable light, as the secular press loves to do, for sensational purposes.
So you see, we have our demons today just as there was possession by the Devil in the days of Jesus. Our demons today are things like the Nazi domination of invaded and occupied nations, the terrible conditions to which Nazis and Communists reduced their victims so as to be able to bribe them into giving the information that the tyrants wanted, and then the capitulation of those victims. We remember stories that come out of World War II of people like Anne Franck, the teenaged Jewish girl and her family who hid in an attic in Amsterdam and were eventually betrayed by some neighbor for a loaf of bread or a bag of potatoes. We remember the Protestant Dutch woman, Corrie ten Boom, who hid Jewish refugees and allied pilots making their way back to England after having been shot down in Europe. Her family, too, was betrayed by starving relatives or neighbors and all died at the hands of the Gestapo except Corrie herself.
Before the American press points the finger of accusation at the priest in Poland, it would have to walk for a mile in the shoes of people like him in the oppressive fear and hunger of a Communist-dominated state. But, thank God, Poland is no longer oppressed by Russian Communism. The gates of hell have NOT prevailed, and the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ is again able to preach the Christian gospel in that land which has suffered so much. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.