Monday, July 25, 2011

Intruder Alert

“All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.” John 10: 8

So last night after my youth ministry meeting one of my core members went to turn-off the lights in a closet of the gym that we forgot about and as they opened the door, someone jumped out of the closet, pushed them over onto the gym floor and went running out of the building into the night. Talk about scary! Naturally the police were called and burly guys with guns and flashlights and K-9 dogs came to search the building and the surrounding neighborhood. Fortunately no one else was in the building, but unfortunately they didn’t find anyone in the neighborhood matching the description of our intruder.

Of course, now the questions linger: how did he get in a locked building? Did he sneak in at the beginning of youth group as people were coming in? Did he nonchalantly walk through an open door as people were leaving? Did anyone see him but think he was just someone’s dad or older brother? What, if anything, could we do differently or better to keep everyone safe? What was this guy planning to do in the empty school building after we left?

So a lot of my time and energy has been spent reflecting on this incident and talking with the principal and pastor. And as I have been thinking of all that happened, it dawned on me that in our spiritual lives we have thieves and robbers constantly trying to get into our souls, minds and hearts. And I wondered if we always recognize this reality? And are we putting enough time and energy and thought into protecting ourselves from these dangers?

These thieves and robbers are of course Satan and his minions, all the rest of the demons who manipulate and pervert and corrupt our culture and attack us in a myriad of ways. The lies and deceit that he throws at us in our own minds: self-doubt, self-hatred, confusion, anger, despair. The false hope of happiness he offers us through our daily consumption of what the media has to offer us through music, TV, movies and the Internet. The heresy he spews through false preachers and prophets that leave us in confusion and fear. So how do we protect ourselves from these constant assaults?

We pray, we keep ourselves connected and rooted to Jesus through the sacraments, especially Eucharist and confession, we join with other believers in community, we fill our minds with Truth from Scripture, the Catechism and from other writings of people holier than us and we keep our minds and hearts from the perversions of the mainstream media.

If we can lock doors to buildings, keep lights burning all night, set alarms, stay with others, keep out of dangerous parts of town, carry weapons for self-defense, be aware of our surroundings, put up fences and pay taxes for a police force, why can’t we be more vigilant with our souls, minds and hearts? I guarantee the price we pay for losing or damaging them is far higher and more lasting than the things of this world which we are so good at protecting.

Dear Jesus, please help me to recognize the threats against my soul and cling to You more closely and trust in Your protection. Help me live in the light so that the smallest threat against me can be exposed quickly and dealt with. Amen.

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