Although Jesus speaks directly to devil, you and I should not do the same. In case you have not noticed, there is a difference between Jesus and us. He is God; you and I are not. He is all powerful; we are weak. He is all-wise; (please don't take offense) we are dumber than we think.*
Let me give a comparison. To take on the devil directly would be like me taking on a kick boxer. Even the most poorly trained kick boxer could have me on the floor, flat on my back, in a matter of seconds. Just so, a minor demon could bring me down - if I try to deal with him on my own.
The devil is like a wolf pursuing a sheep or a lamb. You would think the quickest way to bring down a sheep would be to attack its legs and make it stumble. But reportedly that is not the wolf 's normal method. He goes for the neck. And when he sinks his teeth into the neck, a lamb cannot bleat. It cannot call for the shepherd. The devil does something similar. He wants to first disable our voice so that we do not call out to the Lord.
Have you ever noticed that when you try to set aside a time to pray, that something inevitably comes up? All of a sudden, you remember an unfinished chore or a person you should call. Or better yet, take a quick look at the TV or the Internet . If you are like me, you begin thinking about what you have in the refrigerator.
The devil will do almost anything to keep us from praying. Many families tell me about the trials they go through on Sunday morning, getting ready for Mass. Do you think that these things are just a coincidence? No, the devil attacks at the throat, to wants to take away your voice - so that you will not call out to the Lord.
Sometimes people ask why God allows the demons to attack us so much. I do not know, but I can make a guess. God does it for the same reason he permits anything bad to happen. He has in mind a greater good - namely, that we will turn to him. Sometimes a person has to hit bottom before he recognizes he cannot do it on his own.
There is something else. When we give in to a temptation, it takes power from us. But the opposite also applies: when we resist a temptation, we take power from it. The devil wants to rob us of power, to make us impotent. The Lord wants to make us strong by resisting tempation. The more strength, the more power we have, the more we have to offer to God through Jesus - and the better we can serve others.
I have talked quite a bit about the devil, more than I like to. I want to stress that we do not have to fear the devil. St. Augustine said that since coming of Christ, the devil is a chained power. He compares the devil to a dog tied to a post. For him to attack, we have to step into his territory.
Stay away from certain temptations. Various studies have shown that sexual involvement of any kind, apart from marriage, can harm a person, especially a teenager. One University of California study concluded that "early sexual activity - whether in or out of a romantic relationship - does far more harm than good."** You know, nothing magic happens when a person turns 20. These studies also apply to older people. Stay away from certain temptations. Flee them. Run to the one who overcame the enemy.
In our Seattle Men's Conference we will hear more about spiritual combat - how our men can take their leadership role by putting on the full armor of God. I ask you to join me in praying for the men will attend this Conference.***
And, above all, remember that, by his death and resurrection, Jesus has shackled the demonic powers. When tempted, do not talk to the devil; turn to Jesus As we hear in today’s Psalm:
Because he clings to me, I will deliver him...
He shall call upon me - and I will answer him. Amen.
*In his book "What Americans Really Want...Really", Frank Luntz gives this fun statistic: 90% of the people in our country believe that they are "smarter than the average American"!
**A couple more quotes:
Though a girl is "far more likely to feel used and abused after a typical" hook up, the "impersonality of twenty-first-century adolescent sex victimizes girls" and "plenty of harm" is done to boys as well.
Especially among younger teenagers, casual sex is associated with depression. This impersonality is harmful to both girls and boys; however, girls are especially at risk of becoming victims in casual sexual relationships.
See Adolescent sexuality in the United States
***Here is the prayer: "Lord Jesus, raise up in your Church strong, godly men: Men who respect, care and protect. Men who lead with courage, putting on your full armor. Men who persevere in love as you did – to the last drop of your blood. You live and reign forever. Amen"