An Unclean Spirit

Two boys quarrels

As kids we would tease each other constantly. Now I know you never did this, because you were a nice and respectful child, but, well, we were rascals at times! I remember the one taunt that always got me was “I know you are, but what am I?” Some kid would call me a meanie and I’d say to him “I know you are, but what am I?” Then, of course, I’d be playing with my little brother and he’d cheat and I’d call him a cheater, and that aggravating phrase would come from him to me!

How childish!

But guess what? As adults we may not use the same language but the spirit is the same when we project our own weaknesses and stumbles onto others around us. It’s actually such a common human tendency that psychologists even call it “projection.” This is when I know I have a character flaw. I see , whether consciously or not, my own weakness, and then when someone does something or says something that triggers this self-knowledge in me, I “project” this so-called “insight” onto them, and usually it isn’t accurate at all!

But we humans seem to have “that still small voice” inside us always inviting us to the grace of honest confession and repentance, and try as hard as we might, the loving grace of God urging us to spiritual health is hard to extinguish!

No wonder our Lord Jesus gets the reaction He gets from the religious rulers of His day when He tells them the truth. Their FIRST reaction is to accuse Him of the spiritual poverty they, themselves, possess.

Look at Mark 3:28-35: The Lord said, “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

When He tells them the truth, THEY INSIST that it’s Him Who has the “unclean spirit.” The conviction of the light shining on their own souls and the true condition of their spiritual lives, no matter the outward appearance, is so obvious, so clear, to them, and worse yet, to those around them, they revert to childish ways: “I know you are, but what am I?”

Today, “honesty” may be the best policy, but it is silly to not expect that this honesty will be received many times as painful revelation. So, it’s equally silly to be surprised by the reactions of others to this honesty. Said in love, we are invited by the Lord, to understand the weaknesses of others and our own weakness with mercy AND obedience. Just because it’s uncomfortable doesn’t make it untrue!

Life is too short to live in the delusion of illusion; the illusion that my weakness is best left hidden, best left unacknowledged, best left unattended to. That, precious one, is the recipe for eternal childishness and spiritual sickness left to fester in my soul. No, better to hear the Truth and, as painful and uncomfortable as it may be, embrace it and allow the sweet and gentle wisdom of the spiritual medicine of the Faith to “cleanse” my own “unclean spirit.”

Truth is worth the pain. It is worth the discomfort. It is worth the work. The Lord’s true family are the ones of us who actually “DO” His will and not simply intend to.

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