The miraculous and the mundane
The “signs (that) will accompany those who believe” apply in a special way to St. Paul, who literally shook off the bite of a deadly snake (Acts 28:3-6).
There are some Christians who do not see this passage as a purely historical reference or literary foreshadowing, but who look at the miraculous signs in this passage as personal goals.
We must be clear: to this day, miraculous signs such as these (and many others) continue to “accompany those who believe”, but they are God’s gift, given according to his will, and not as a miracles-on-demand service.
While we can look and pray for miracles, our focus needs to be on drawing ever closer to Christ and being ever more faithful in his service.
Indeed, the signs that accompany those who believe are not just of the miraculous variety.
We may not drink poison liquids, but few of us can escape taking in the poisons of today’s culture and so we must be vigilant and pray for God’s grace to keep our thoughts and emotions pure.
We may not often run into snakes (especially if we live in cities), but we often encounter snakes of the two-legged kind: slippery people who can turn on us suddenly with deadly intent.
We may or may not speak in tongues, but in seeking to spread the Gospel, you and I need to speak “new languages” – communicating the truth of the Gospel faithfully in differently ways and using different mechanisms: using creative approaches as needed and the newest technologies available to communicate effectively the unchanging truth.
Finally, there are indeed demons from Hell “who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls” (may God rebuke them, we humbly pray in Jesus’ name) but there are also other kinds of demons, metaphorical but nevertheless deadly: the “demons” of unresolved issues within us as well as the malevolent human individuals and human forces around us.
It is a scary world out there and we need to be prudent, but we must also remain faithful to Christ, in our thoughts, words and actions, opening ourselves evermore to his grace and seeking to follow his command:
Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.