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IHS Third Sunday after Epiphany—26 January A.D. 2020 Ave Maria!

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The Bible is filled with names that may not be comprehensible to modern Americans. Everyone has heard of Lucifer and Satan—most of us would translate both names, simply, as “the Devil,” although there is probably a distinction between them. Elsewhere the Devil is called “Legion,” apparently because there are many devil's possessing one victim.[1] Toward the beginning of today's Gospel we encounter Beelzebub, whom our Lord refers to as "the prince of devils."[2] Over the centuries, scholars have sought to define a sort of “hierarchy of the demons”[3]. Some are scriptural, but others are rather fanciful. The name Beelzebub seems to associate with the false God of the Canaanites, named “Baal.” “Baal zebub,” may have been a corruption of the Canaanite name, intended by the Jews to mock their Canaanite rivals. Long before Christ, the Psalmist wrote, in Psalm 95, that “the ‘gods’ of the Gentiles are devils.”[4]. This verse is a good one to keep in mind when you read or hear the Modernists going on about the various sects “all worshipping the same gods.” All beside the one true God, who try to pass themselves off as “gods,” are actually devils.

One of the schemes for classifying devils ranks them according to the order of Angels to which they used to belong before revolting against God. Former Seraphim and Cherubim held higher places before the fall, so they are said to hold higher places in the diabolic hierarchy than those who were Angels or Principalities before the fall. I believe it was the English author, C.S.Lewis, who referred to the ranking of devils as a “lowerarchy” in his book, The Screwtape Letters. Lewis is well worth reading for his Letters pretend to be a series of instructions to junior devils on how to tempt humans—they give us available insight to how we are actually tempted, thereby teaching us how to avoid being tempted.

Another system of classifying the devils orders them by which of the seven deadly sins they urge us to commit:.

Lucifer: pride

Mammon: greed

Asmodeus: lust

Leviathan: envy

Beelzebub: gluttony

Satan: wrath

Belphegor: sloth

The association of a devil’s name with a particular sin is probably imaginary. But the seven sins, themselves, give us a good idea of what we must personally avoid. Are we more given to lust or gluttony, than we are to envy and pride? Each person should carefully examine his conscience, so he can scrupulously avoid entrapment by his greater weaknesses. In today's Epistle,. Saint Paul tells us to exclude some of these sins from our gatherings, so that no one will be tempted by the jocularity of the crowd.[5] Men and women should always be considering their day of particular judgement, and the serious jeopardy of arriving before the throne of God while entertaining one of the serious sins!

Humans are creatures of speech—through speech we for ourselves and we form the people around us. We should always strive to edify our associates with the purity of our speech, and we must avoid those who would seduce us with their impure speech:

“Be followers of God ... and walk in love... But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you ... nor obscenity, nor foolish talking ... no fornicator, nor unclean, nor covetous person, which is the serving of idols. Walk, then, as children of the light: for the fruit of the light is goodness, and justice, and truth.”


[1] Mark v: 9 Luke viii:30

[2] Gospel: Luke xi: 14-28


[4] Psalm 95:5

[5] Ephesians v: 1-9

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