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Principalities and Powers

Homily for Tuesday in the 23rd Week of Ordinary Time

Earlier in the Letter to the Colossians, we read: “In Christ Jesus were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him.” St. Paul maintains that everything that God created was created through Jesus and for Jesus. He includes both the things and people we can see as well as the spirits we cannot see.

While belief in evil spirits is not something most of us can really understand, the people of Jesus’ time did believe that the world was filled with both good and evil spirits. Perhaps you remember an image from childhood that appeared often in cartoons. When a child was tempted to do something naughty, a little angel would sit on his right shoulder trying to dissuade him while a little devil sat on his left shoulder pushing toward the mischief. While we know that such images are part of someone’s imagination, people of the Mediterranean world tend to believe in such spirits. They go by different names. St. Paul names them “principalities and powers,” spiritual forces that determined the fate of human beings. St. Paul makes it clear that while such spiritual forces may be at work in the world, they were all subjected to Jesus Christ by virtue of his death and resurrection.

He goes on to say that such forces no longer have sway over our lives because through baptism, we have been incorporated into the fullness of Jesus Christ. We participate in both the divinity and the humanity of Jesus, having been promised that we will live with him forever. Nothing else matters. We have been forgiven all our transgressions through God’s love for us. No one and nothing can claim power over us. Baptism has freed us.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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