There is a part in the gospel that talks about two demoniacs whom Christ met as he was going to a certain place. (cfr. Mt 8,28-34) They were known to be so savage that no one could pass by the place where they were.
The demons behind these possessed men readily recognized Christ for who he really was and asked what he would do with them. And since Christ would definitely free the possessed man of them, they begged that they be driven to a herd of swine nearby.
That was when the demons entered the swine, and the swine ran off into the sea and drowned, leading the swineherd to report this disquieting event to the townspeople who, disturbed by what happened, asked Christ to leave the place.
That was the wrong thing to do, of course. But given their state of mind at that moment, they failed to realize that what they actually had was a golden opportunity to be with someone who could solve their problems.
We have to be wary of this tendency to run away from Christ or, worse, to ask him to leave when we find ourselves in similar situations. We may be stunned and frightened for a while, but we should not forget that Christ holds the answer to all the problems and difficulties we may have.
But we have to be more wary of the very subtle tricks of the devil. Being spiritual beings, they are be smarter than us. We should always be aware that they are around, ever eager to deceive us, offering us sweet poisons of all kinds.
That we now have many cases of people in serious predicaments in the areas of mental health, addiction, etc., somehow point to the handiwork of the devil. They know very well how to take advantage of our weaknesses to inflict their malice on us.
We, therefore, should never take the devil for granted. They are always around, ever scheming and plotting against us in many, many ways, and often in a manner that is so subtle that we may not even notice him. As St. Peter would put in his first letter: “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” (5,8)
We should never consider the devil as a myth, or as some kind of literary device only to highlight a point in the drama of our life. He is as real as you and me. Our problem is that we think lightly or, worse, falsely of him. And so, we become completely unprepared to deal with his antics.
But in spite of that unfortunate fact of life, we should remember that the devil cannot do anything against us unless allowed by God. And if allowed, it is because God in his mysterious providence can always draw a greater good from any evil the devil may cause in us.
We should have a strong and intimate relation with God in order to deal with the devil properly. Our spiritual life, our piety should be continually nourished through prayer, sacrifices, resource to the sacraments and to some program of ongoing formation.
We should never forget that only with God can we properly deal with our own weaknesses, and the many temptations and sins around. Only with him can we manage to resist the devil himself. Without him, we are an easy prey, a sitting duck. Our earnest desire should be how we can be with God always, our union with him as strong and vibrant as ever.*