The Gospel according to Luke (11:14-23)
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute person spoke and the crowds were amazed. Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebub that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
Reflection: There are many ways we can take today’s gospel from Luke. The division that causes house to fall against house could refer to all of humanity, our western culture, our local community, or our own home. I would like to take this one step further and focus on the division that exists in our hearts. Do we feel conflicted going back and forth between sin and redemption, between following our own will or the will of God? Often this division will be the reason for a fall that is very difficult to recover from. But have faith because the Kingdom of God is upon us.
Imagine how frustrated and tired Jesus felt on a regular basis because he kept encountering resistance to his mission and his message. We humans are so fickle and dense. Like those who accused Jesus of involvement with the devil, who asked for more signs, or contradicted him on many occasions, we too fall into the evil trap of sin. When we do not receive what we pray for, or life becomes difficult we tend to look elsewhere for solutions or relief. We turn to people and places that may provide temporary relief but fall far short of what we really need.
The last thing we hear in today’s gospel is Jesus’ very blunt statement where in essence he says, “either you are with me or not”. This is very direct and to the point. But before we take this as an ultimatum let us consider God’s mercy and love. We know how sin separates us from our loved ones and God. God hears the prayer of a contrite and sincere heart. And Jesus knows his sheep. Our struggle is not who we are, it is simply part of our life. We are sons and daughters of God. Brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Good Sheppard leaves the ninety-nine to go look for the one. If we persist in our life of prayer, avail ourselves of the precious Sacraments, most especially Holy Eucharist, then we will stand on the solid foundation with Jesus as our corner stone. What greater assurance can we ask for. When we fall, get up and repeat this as many times as necessary, all the way home.
Action of the day: Make no mistake, we are in the midst of spiritual battle and there are plenty of causalties. Seek and you shall find, ask and it will be given to you. Pray for a specific struggle you and/or someone you know is expereincing. Trust that your prayer will reach the heavens and God will provide what we need to overcome.