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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Absalom, Shiemei, and Legion (Holy Warriors Part 66)

Today’s readings:

2 Samuel 15:13-16:13

Psalm 3:2-7

Mark 5:1-20

The holy warrior can expect many to oppose him. “How many are my foes, Lord! How many rise against me!” (Ps 3:2). Certainly the devil will oppose him. But there is also the enemy within, within one’s own family and within one’s own Christian community.

Just like God, the devil works in and through human instruments. This was the case with the Gerasene demoniac. He “had an unclean spirit” (Mk 5:2). In fact, he was infested. When Jesus asked the name of the unclean spirit, he said, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.” (Mk 5:9). The devil is powerful, and the human forces he infects are many and powerful as well. These are world governments, NGOs, international institutions and globalist billionaires that promote the culture of death. At times it seems that “no one was strong enough to subdue him.” (Mk 5:4b).

Then there is the enemy among God’s people. Such was Shimei, who “was of the same clan as the house of Saul” (2 Sm 16:5b). “He kept cursing as he came out, and throwing stones at David and at all King David’s officers” (2 Sm 16:5c-6a). Unfortunate as it is, there will always be conflicts within the Christian community, whether lay associations, religious congregations, parishes or within the hierarchy of the Church herself. In David’s case, Shimei was cursing him for perceived offenses against the family of Saul. Shimei was “all the while cursing and throwing stones and dirt as he went.” (2 Sm 16:13b).

Have you encountered a Shimei in your life and service?

* Cursing you. There are those who fight with you and confront you with harsh words.

* Throwing stones at you. There are those who try to hurt you and bring you down.

* Throwing dirt at you. There are those who malign you and ruin your good name, at times with lies and half-truths.

Then there is the enemy even within one’s own family or inner circle. David’s own son Absalom turned against him, joined by David’s own counselor Ahithophel the Gilonite (2 Sm 15:31a). In pursuing the righteousness of God, some have been opposed by their own children or siblings. Jesus himself said that because of him, families will be divided, with fathers against sons. In pursuing the mission of the community, some have been betrayed by their closest confreres. Jesus himself was betrayed by Judas, one of his chosen twelve.

How do holy warriors act in the face of all these?

First, always examine yourself first, before rejecting or opposing the assaults of others. Abishai, as part of David’s royal guard, wanted to kill Shimei for cursing David. But David prevented Abishai, saying, “Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David” (2 Sm 16:10b)?. Examine your conscience. Have you actually done wrong? Do you see the speck in your opponent’s eye but miss the plank in your own? What is the Spirit trying to tell you by way of this assault?

Second, keep your faith, trust and focus on God. Everyone may turn against you, but never God. He will always be there to protect you and preserve your dignity, even in the face of constant assaults. “But you, Lord, are a shield around me; my glory, you keep my head high.” (Ps 3:4).

Third, in your distress, seek consolation not from men but from God. Bring your troubles to God. Have the confidence that He will always hear you. “With my own voice I will call to the Lord, and he will answer me from his holy mountain.” (Ps 3:5). Having done so, even in the face of constant assaults, put everything in His hands. Know you are secure in His love and care. “I lie down and I fall asleep. I will wake up, for the Lord sustains me.” (Ps 3:6).

Fourth, know that you serve a victorious God. As long as you strive to be holy, and you give of ourselves to the Lord’s mission, then you share in His victory. You need never be afraid of anyone or anything. “I do not fear, then, thousands of people arrayed against me on every side.” (Ps 3:7).

Fifth, though such assaults against you are painful, God uses these to help you grow in holiness. These keep you humble. These impress upon you that you are nothing without God. These teach you virtues of patience, tolerance, forgiveness, unconditional love. God will always work for your good, even making use of your sufferings and pains. David said, “Perhaps the Lord will look upon my affliction and repay me with good for the curses he is uttering this day.” (2 Sm 16:12). Yes, God certainly will.

Sixth, continue with our work of evangelization and mission, intending God’s salvation and deliverance be experienced by many more people. When you confront sin in the world, keep in mind Jesus’s words spoken to the demoniac: “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!” (Mk 5:8). Continue to be engaged in spiritual warfare. And hope for God’s transforming power. After Jesus drove the demons out of the demoniac, “the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him” (Mk 5:20a). The enemy had been recruited into God’s army!

Onward, holy warriors!

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