Bad company

Once the abbot of a monastery had this dream: there were many monks in a monastery, each one doing his own task. All of them were surrounded by demons who tried to tempt them in different ways, but in vain, for the monks were holy enough to reject those temptations. At a certain point a new monk arrived and when this monk arrived all the demons left.

The monk who had the dream thought that this new monk was holier than the rest of the monks and that was the reason that all the demons ran away from him. He was asked: “do you understand the dream?” “Yes,” he answered, “I must be holy enough to protect myself and my brother monks from demons.” “No” was the answer “the new monk was so bad and such a big sinner that he did the demons’ work.”

The moral of this story is that sometimes “bad examples are worse than demons.” Demons “rest” when someone is surrounded by bad examples since they do their work for them. We must be careful of those who give bad examples and stay far away from them. However, we must also be careful about the example we give to others since it’s possible that we, too, can be worse than a demon for our neighbors.

St. Alphonsus says: “Just as hunters use means to hunt birds, so the devil uses evil companions to make souls commit sin.” Nowadays, we can find bad examples everywhere: in the streets and at home; at work or school, even in my own room or in “solitude” if I have TV or internet.

We must be careful, as Jesus says in the Gospel: Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod (Mk 8:15).To the Jews, fermentation was identified with putrefaction and therefore leaven stood for evil. So, although the apostles did not understand what He said, Jesus’ message is clear: beware of bad examples, do not follow them nor imitate them, since they will ruin your soul.

This teaching is very important since our society is contaminated with false principles and ideas that sometimes we assimilate as if they were right. Our society is spreading false values that we consider correct. Therefore, these principles, ideas and values are the “leaven” that are corrupting our society and possibly corrupting ourselves as well.  If we do not recognize them as “leaven,” we can be following bad examples without even realizing that they are bad examples. As a consequence, we can also give bad examples to others, thus becoming more “leaven” in the society.

Daily homily


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