Thursday, October 13, 2022

29th Sunday Year C (Gospel: Luke 18:1-8) Deception of the Occult


There is a lot of confusion these days as to what comes from God and what does not. I am talking in particular about things like going to fortune tellers, Tarot card readers, psychics, playing the Ouija board, or going to mediums, and many other practices that come under the general term of Occult. A lot of people just consider them harmless fun; besides what could possibly be wrong with them?


God expressly warns us in the Scriptures to stay away from such things. In the book of Deuteronomy it says:

You must not have in your midst anyone... who practices divination, or anyone who consults the stars, who is a sorcerer, or one who practices enchantments or who consults the spirits, no diviner, or one who asks questions of the dead. For the Lord abhors those who do these things (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).


In another book it says, ‘Do not have recourse to the spirits of the dead or to magicians; they will defile you. I, the Lord, am your God’ (Leviticus 19:31).


I would like to try and explain why these things are a problem for us, because the Lord God doesn’t just give us rules for the sake of rules. If God tells us to stay away from something there is a good reason, just like you will tell your children to stay away from the fire or they’ll get burned. God does the same for us, telling us what to avoid if we want to stay healthy.


So why are these things, which are now available everywhere, a problem? The first and most important reason is that they interfere with our free will. Our free will is an extraordinary gift which the Lord has given us, because it means that we have the freedom to do anything we choose, be it good or evil, although real freedom is the freedom to choose what is good. We can even reject God if we choose. It is an extraordinary thing that the Lord who has created us respects us enough even to giving us the freedom to reject him, and sadly some people do this by the way they live.


Going to fortune tellers, or any of these other things that I mentioned, is basically an attempt to gain knowledge, or control, of the future. The problem is that if we think we have any kind of knowledge of the future it is going to influence our freedom to choose, because we will probably start acting out of fear or what we think might be going to happen. The Lord does not want us to be afraid, but to be at peace. That is why God does not reveal the future to us. We don’t need to know it. If we did, He would show us, because He wants the very best for us.


The second reason why these things are a problem for us, is that by dabbling in them we are going directly against something God has asked us, which is a way of creating an obstacle between us and God. We sin when we do this. From a spiritual point of view they can also have a hold or influence over us. If God does not reveal the future to us, then where is this information coming from? It is not coming from the Lord, even if the fortune teller starts off by praying the Hail Mary or Our Father, which I know some of them do. 


I worked with an exorcist priest friend of mine for a while and saw first-hand the mess that some people get themselves into by dabbling in these things that the Lord tells us specifically to keep away from. They are very real. Satan is cunning and will do anything to lead us away from God, because he hates us as God’s creation. Satan is real. If Satan is not real then Jesus is a liar, because Jesus frequently mentioned him in his teaching.


The former exorcist of this diocese told me about one encounter he had. He was called to a house where footsteps kept appearing across the couch! When he got there he asked the family about themselves. It turned out that the woman was living with a man who was not her husband. She was practicing witchcraft and so was her daughter. So they had left themselves wide open to evil and the demonic. The priest told them that unless they were willing to change their ways, there was nothing he could do for them.


I was called to a house one time where radios and lights kept turning on during the night. When I asked the people who lived there if they had been involved in any kind of Occult practice, they said no, but the lady who had lived in the house before them was a medium. She now lived next door. So that was the origin of that. What we think of as harmless fun, is not harmless if God forbids us to do it. Getting involved in any kind of magic, witchcraft, or fortune telling, etc, is also opening up doors to what is not of God. Hence the cases I mentioned where things were happening in those houses. If we do what God forbids us to do, we can expect consequences.


We have to ask ourselves do I believe what Jesus said is true or not?  Either the Bible (the Scriptures) is the word of God or it isn’t. If it is, we have good cause to listen to it. If it’s not true, then what are we doing here?


The Lord wants the very best for us and will continually guide us along the right path, the path that will help us to reach our full potential as human beings, but sometimes we get misled and go astray. That’s not a problem so long as we recognise it and come back again. I’m sure you want God’s blessing for your lives and for your families, just as I do, but if we mess with what God expressly tells us to stay away from, we will be blocking God’s help from us. 


If you have dabbled in any of these things at any stage, confess it, which is also what the Lord asks us to do. By confessing it you break any spiritual hold that it can have over you. By repenting of it you also open the door to God’s grace as well.


In the readings today the Lord is assuring us that He does and will answer our prayers. We have to trust that the Lord in this. God only speaks truth. If God has assured us of his help, then we would be foolish to look for any spiritual help from any other source, especially a source which God expressly tells us to stay away from. We know that God wants the very best for us and if we believe that then we must also listen to what He tells us to do and what He tells us to avoid.

I am the Lord your God... You shall not have strange gods before me.’ (Deut 5:6-7)





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