Friday of the Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time
[Scripture Readings: Joel 1:13-15, 2:1-2; Lk 11:15-26 ]
“If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” We can't see the face of God. Not yet. God's presence, grace, heaven and hell are hidden from our bodily eyes. But some events, some works, some things are so astonishing, so unlikely, so miraculous that we say , “This is the finger of God.” When the magicians of Egypt could not duplicate all the wonders that Moses performed they said, “This is the finger of God.”
In our longing for God we do not expect to see him here and now. But we can and often do experience God's presence, the Holy Spirit, the finger of God, helping and protecting us. An anonymous monk from the 13th century expresses his yearning for God's presence and protection in this beautiful prayer:
“Come most sweet Lord stretch out your finger towards me and lift me up. O that your finger might be placed under me and bear me up, that it might hold me and lead me to you. O that it might touch my wounds and heal them; that it might cool the burn caused by pride, squeeze out the pus of anger, press and expel the poison of envy, cut away the dead flesh of tepidity, ease the pain of cupidity and avarice, evacuate the excesses of gluttony, and replace the stench of lust with ointments of agreeable fragrance. Would that it touch me, O Holy Spirit, that finger of yours which distills wine, oil and myrrh. Would that it touch me, that finger of yours, O well-beloved Lord, to cure my infection and restore health to my flesh, in order that I might become a dwelling fit to receive you, a dwelling without fault, founded on truth and faith, constructed in the certitude of hope, and completed in the fervor of love.”1
When Jesus cast out the mute demon so that the possessed man could speak again, it was not by Beelzebul, but by the Holy Spirit. The finger of God continues to cast out our own demons and to occupy our hearts by Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick. By these powerful actions of the Holy Spirit we become dwelling places prepared to receive God who embraces us in the Eucharist.
Sometimes the finger of God intervenes in our lives to protect us even from physical injury and death, so that we may continue to carry out God's plan for us. I'll never forget the day a tornado tore through our corn fields at harvest time. The storm was approaching some monks and farm workers who were filling a pit silo with corn silage. The blackening skies and sudden burst of heavy rain made them take refuge in trucks nearby. Unseen, a tornado was coming straight at them. Just before it hit them, the tornado lifted off the ground and ripped apart the tops of nearby trees and the roof of the K-Barn. It passed over their trucks and then settled back on the ground to continue its fury through our fields. Surely, this was the finger of God lifting that deadly tornado over their heads, protecting them from harm.
Sin is a much greater danger than tornados. What demons inhabit our space, our hearts? Let us call upon the Holy Spirit, the finger of God, to cast out our personal demons, asking him to make our hearts beautiful dwelling places for God's presence in Christ whom we love and will receive in this Eucharist.
1. Jean Leclercq, OSB, The Finger of God, Worship vol 36, 1962, p. 434.