15th August

Overcome Evil

Do not let evil defeat you; instead, overcome evil with good. Romans 12: 21

In the reading two days ago we learned how David and his friends were divinely directed to build their headquarters in a different place. Having done that, they had to learn the hard lesson that being in the place of God’s choosing does not make us immune to opposition. Once God’s kingdom gets a foothold, things that are not of God in that place, however well established, come under threat; so they react, sometimes ferociously.

First came the honeymoon. Many Christians gathered to celebrate the opening of David’s new centre in the place which was then known as Rosina Vallis. They lit a bonfire which seemed to encircle the whole area with the presence of God, and even to light up Ireland as well. Then came the reaction. The local big-wig, the pagan Baia, went berserk when he saw the crowds and the engulfing smoke, which seemed to symbolise the very thing that would happen to the region under the influence of David.

Baia’s wife persuaded him to retaliate. They armed their slaves with knives who set out to kill the monks. On their way, however, they were afflicted with sudden fever. On arrival all they had strength for was to hurl four-letter words at the monks; they had to return with their mission unaccomplished. Before they reached the gates, Baia’s wife rushed towards them: the cattle too, had been infected and had died. ‘Go back to the servant of God’, she told them, ‘and ask him to pray God to have mercy on the cattle’. They told David ‘The land where you have settled shall be yours for ever’. ‘Your cattle shall come to life again’, he responded! And both things came true.

Baia’s wife soon reverted to spite. She forced her female servants to undress in full view of the monks every day. This torpedoed their aim of being single minded. They became so demoralised that a delegation urged David to re-locate the monastery elsewhere. This was David’s reply: ‘You know that the world hates Christ’s followers. You know that God’s people Israel faced innumerable setbacks on their desert trek to the Promised Land. They were beaten to their knees, but not overthrown. Learn from them not to let evil overcome us but to overcome evil with good’. The monks stood firm. Not long after this Baia’s jealous wife killed a step- daughter and fled, and an enemy murdered Baia.

Director, Saviour, Strengthener, help me to stand firm
and to overcome evil with good