We have five senses, five windows that allow the world around us to flood our souls like sunlight if we remember to open the curtains. Our sense of hearing is the only one directly aligned to our life of faith. Listening is a human act of hearing – it requires attention and intellect. “If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart.” Our faith helps us recognize the voice of God speaking to us through the Word of the Holy Scriptures. Once we recognize the Voice, however, our hearts have to remain malleable or “soft.” A heart that listens is one that recognizes the supreme authority, love and power of the one speaking.
It is interesting to see the examples of exorcism in the Gospels. The demons not only hear the voice of Jesus, but they are incapable of not listening to him – they cannot ignore him. The sign is that they obey Him, even when it goes directly against their will, simply because of the authority of His words. How strange it is that these angelic beings, far superior to human beings in terms of spiritual strength and quality, are incapable of resisting the Command of Christ. Human beings resist the command of God all the time – and it doesn’t even seem to require much effort. On the contrary, we feel like it requires effort to obey God’s command.
I think we should all command the demons to leave our hearts and lives in the Holy Name of Jesus. When we witness these strong beings’ incapacity to put up a fight against the Holy Name, their inability to ignore its power and authority – their obligation to listen and heed – it should surprise us that our own hearts remain so free before this Name. We are free to allow our hearts to be compelled or not, and it all depends upon the way in which we listen.
“… contrary to the principle of the apostle, who forgot what was in the past and strived for what lay before him, they did the opposite, pining for the past and despising the future.”1
“Now mute devils are difficult for any one of the saints to rebuke. They are more obstinate than any other kind and excessively bold.”2
“They called out, as it were, and said, “Even if you have expelled from a man a bitter and malicious demon, that as yet is no such great matter, nor worthy of admiration. What is done up to now is no proof of divine ability.” … Such were their forward fault findings. The fact of their wishing to ask a sign from heaven proves nothing else than that they entertained such thoughts as these concerning him.”3
“By the finger of God, he means the Holy Spirit. The Son is called the hand and arm of God the Father because he does all things by the Son, and the Son in a similar way works by the Spirit. Just as the finger is attached to the hand as something not foreign from it but belonging to it by nature, so also the Holy Spirit, by reason of his being equal in substance, is joined in oneness to the Son, although he proceeds from God the Father. The Son does every thing by the consubstantial Spirit. Here he purposely says that by the finger of God he casts out devils, speaking as a man.”4
- Jerome, Six Books on Jeremiah 2.41.2-3
- Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 80. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 193). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Cyril of Alexandria, COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 80. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 193). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 81. Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 193). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.