The Holy Gospel according to Luke (11:15-26)
When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said: “By the power of Beelzebul, 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 Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, 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. “When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection: Numerous times in the Gospels, Jesus is challenged and tested by the scribes, pharisees, or “some of the crowd.” Today we hear Jesus being accused of driving out demons by the power of Beelzebul. They also ask Jesus for a “sign” from heaven to prove who he is. It is because the hardness of their hearts that they refuse to believe and accept Jesus for who he is, the Messiah. Jesus does not need to show a “sign.” Jesus drives out demons “by the finger of God” because he is God.
I believe that we should reflect on the last part of this Gospel. We know that the devil is real and out there waiting to enslave us. But that will only happen if we let our guard down. Several years ago, at the Religious Education Congress, I attended a workshop given by Fr. Tony Ricard. The workshop was titled, “Who invited the devil in?” The main point of the workshop was that the devil/evil is all around us and directly in front of us. As long as we keep our guard up, stay close to the sacraments, and stay spiritually strong, the devil will be kept away and not enter. The devil only comes in if we let him in.
Pope Francis said in a homily on this scripture verse, “Jesus came to destroy the devil, to give us the freedom from the enslavement the devil has over us. And this is not exaggerating. On this point, there are no nuances. There is a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation of us all. We must always be on guard, on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil.”
Action of the Day: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Today and everyday, may we pray for the grace to stay strong in our faith and in our relationship with Jesus, and to gather others to Him.