First Sunday of Lent, February 10, 2008   Doubt and Gossip: The Devil's Tactics.

Homily, February 10, 2008

This Lenten season we go on a boot camp to practice our regular spiritual exercises of prayer, fasting, and alms giving. But, above that, we also are out to learn our (as Fr. Corapi would put it) enemy's logistics, tactics and weapons. Our archrival, archenemy is Satan, and his big artillery is “creating doubt” in people's minds.

Story of the Devils on Internship Training

Satan was about to retire from his active duty, and so he called upon his demon interns to find out if they were ready to take over and perpetuate his legacy on earth. So, he interrogated them: “What are you going to do, to bring more souls to Hell, our Abode?”

The first one responded, “I will tell them, 'There is no God'”. To that, Satan shook his ugly head and said. “Hm! No! That's old. It won't work. I have exhausted that one already. In fact atheists are already doing a nice job on our account using that same one. Give me something better and new.”

So to that, the second demon, said, “I will tell them, 'There is no Hell.'" "To that Satan shook his horns and said, “No! That won't work. We want something that will bring more people to Hell on a wholesale scale. I mean in drones. That will only bring a handful. Come on, guys, be creative. Give me some technique that is fresh and innovative.”

Just as he was saying these things, the third and last demon intern had his head down in deep thought. Satan asked him, “Next! You! Over there! Tell me what you got? What are you going to do to perpetuate my legacy and kingdom on earth?”

The little and last Demon said, “I will create doubt in their minds.”

I tell you Satan almost fell off his seat given how high he jumped off it. He pumped his fist and said, “YES! YES! That's it. That will work. Use that, often. Why didn't I think of that?”

You see! With doubt you can destroy anything, anything really. I don't care how intact it is. You can destroy a relationship, a family, church, and faith, even the belief in yourself. You just have to DOUBT your relationship, family, church, faith, or self.

It's so easy. There is no burden of proof necessary. Yeh! You don't have to provide any facts or truth to back it up. It's like a helicopter. It stands on an empty air. It doesn't need to be grounded on truth or facts. That's the weapon he uses to attack: from the empty air.

Doubt is a double jeopardy. You lose when you try to disprove it. You lose when you don't.  Because you doubt even the obvious.

We see DOUBT playing out in today's readings.  We see a Satan, the Devil, in the form of a serpent, approaching Eve and striking a gossip conversation with her about the ulterior motives of God.

Satan: “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?”

Obviously he knew something. He knew the facts, the truth. He is just asking to create doubt in Eve's mind. Or else he would not have framed the question the way he did. It's about how you phrase the question: in the negative.

Eve:  NO! “We may eat of the fruit of the tress in the garden; it is only about the fruit of
the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, 'You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die'.”

“Did God really tell you not to eat...?”

Just like how gossip goes around. The key words are “really” and “only”. It is like Eve saying “No! The truth of the matter is . . . But, now that you ask, the ONLY thing that I really have problems with is with the fact that the tree in the middle of the garden we may not only not eat of it, but we may not even touch it or else we die.”

She bit the bait of Satan's doubt-creating technique. Now she distorts the facts and truth to approximate Satan's position of doubt.  In psychology this is called “cognitive dissonance”. To be in consonance with Satan, Eve modifies the truth to move closer to Satan's position in issues. First of all, God never said anything about “touching” the Tree of Life at the center of the Garden of Eden. Now Eve is embellishing the truth to vilify God, to portray God is mean-spirited, jealous and unfair, as Satan would like to suggest.

The “If – Then” technique

Another similar technique is The “If – Then” technique in Our Lord's Temptations.

In the Gospel, Satan says, repeatedly, in his temptations to the Lord: “If you are the Son of God, (then) command that these stones become loaves of bread.” “If you are the Son of God, (then) throw yourself down.”

The Empty Promises (aka) Create False Hopes Technique

Another technique is Empty Promises (aka) Create False Hope Technique:
“If you will prostrate yourself and worship me...” I will turn everything over to you.

You see! To doubt you don't need the truth or facts. The damage is as good as when facts are indeed there.

APPLICATION:

You can doubt the existence of God.
a) God doesn't really exist?
b) Was the earth created or did it evolve?

Our world has truly bitten the bait on these questions.

You can doubt the Church, your faith, your priestly or religious calling.

You can doubt your spouse. Does he/she really love me? Even when he/she is professing to love you. This one is used very much be youth to peer-pressure their peers to get into things they don't want to be involved with. “I thought you loved me!” “If you love me then . . .”

You can doubt even your own self. The world uses this one a great deal. You hear statements like “If you are really a man/woman . . . ”  “I thought you were a real man/woman.” In an effort to prove to be in agreement with the creator of doubt that he/she is not mistaken, I am really a man/woman, I get out of my way to perform moral stunts that eventually break my backbone. From there on I can never stand my ground. I cave in, all in the name of proving that I am really a man/woman. I don't just look like one.

Know your enemy's tactics, techniques and weapons this Lenten season. When you do, you will counteract him. You will rebut him as successfully as Our Lord did.

You will eventually return to the new Garden of Eden (which Paradise) with the Lord, the New Adam who had a backbone to resist the temptations of the Devil. The new Adam has now reversed the order of the old Adam. The old Adam turned the Tree of Life, by eating of it, into the Tree of Death. Now the New Adam, Our Lord Jesus Christ, had to climb the Tree of Death, the Cross, to turn it into the New Tree of Life. We now have to climb that tree also in order to be saved. Now by eating of the Fruit of that New Tree of Life (the Cross). Our Lord Jesus Christ himself is that fruit of that New Tree of Life. When we eat of him in Communion, in Confession, in faithful Matrimony, etc., He becomes “medicine for our eternal life”, as St. Ignatius of Antioch (disciple of Apostle John, appointed to succeed St. Peter at Antioch, a see he governed for 40 years) put it, “The Eucharist is the real power of resurrection, the leaven of immortality, an antidote to death that gives eternal life in Jesus Christ.”

When we eat this tree of life's fruit and drink this fruit's fluids we absorb fluids of immortality, victory over death. We absorb eternal life. “He who eat my flesh and drinks my blood, though he dies, will live forever.” (John 6: 52 – 57)

St. Ambrose says, “He is the bread of life. Whoever eats life cannot die.”
St. Gregory of Nyssa says, “His flesh composed of bread and wine is blended with their bodies to enable human beings, thanks to their union with his immortal body, to share in the condition of incorruptibility.”

GOD BLESS YOU.

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