Fight to the death

Friends in the Lord, today in the first reading, we see that King Saul is in big trouble; what did he do? Well, ever since Israel had entered the Promised Land, they had to fight against a whole host of enemies; one of these enemies was the Amalekites.
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Saul had been commanded by God to exterminate them. All of them! But he did not follow this order; when his army conquered them, he spared the leader, Agag. Samuel then says to Saul, ‘The Lord sent you on a mission to exterminate the Amalekites, but you have disobeyed.’ ‘Therefore the Lord has torn the kingdom from you this day.’ Then Samuel said, bring Agag, the king of Amalek to me. And he cut down Agag.’
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Friends, this is the context of today’s 1st reading, and we may feel revulsion at this gory scene and God’s order to exterminate them. But these things were recorded as spiritual lessons for us. Of the Old Testament, St. Paul will say, ‘all these things happened to them as examples, they are written for our correction.’ (1 Cor 10:11, Rom 15:4) So much of the Old Testament is full of types and symbols pointing to the New Testament. And the New Testament interprets the Old.
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When Israel entered the Promised Land, it was through the Jordan River, and this is a ‘type’ or sign of our baptism. Once baptized, we are consecrated to the Lord. But like Israel, we find ourselves surrounded by powerful enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil – enemies outside of us, and enemies within us.
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The Holy Scriptures are teaching us a very important spiritual lesson about this war that we are in:
‘do not in any way compromise with the enemy;
‘in no way allow any of your enemies to live,
‘they must be exterminated.
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We can ask the recovering alcoholic how it works, if he just has a little sip of whiskey – NOT. We can ask the drug addict if he can handle ‘just a little bit’ of dope; it doesn’t work. Ask the person struggling against pornography if he can really allow just a little lust in his mind – no! We must utterly exterminate our enemies. Mercilessly.
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More than the addicts, we all must be on our guard because the Amalekites that attack us can be more subtle and cunning than drugs or whiskey. Such addicts know their enemy at least; but for us, the worry is those hidden enemies within, that keep hanging around. Gossip and greed and sloth and a host of others lurk in us like viruses. We cannot ‘sort of tolerate them.’ We must wage all-out war.
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St. Hesychios says, use the name of Jesus to lash your enemies, as flashes of lighting repeat over and over in the sky. Wage war; and as to a hostile thought? Strike it down angrily, curse it, invoking Jesus.
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Spiritual warfare is part of our daily life, so let us fight our enemies to the death.

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