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.” (Luke 11:15-26)
When we understand today’s gospel correctly, we understand what is at the heart of Jesus’ mission.
Jesus was performing dramatic miracles and driving out demons, right before the very eyes of immense crowds, and yet so many of those eyes didn’t seem to see what was really happening. Some of the crowd accused him of being on Satan’s side, and others asked for more signs.
Jesus came into this world to defeat evil, to oppose all that is against God’s will. The devil in this scene represents the evil of the world, which Jesus intends to destroy.
The work of the devil is to divide and the main focus of Jesus’ work is to save us and sanctify us by bringing us into communion with God and in Him with others.
We remember from St. Mark’s Gospel the two essential aspects involved in life with Jesus: he calls us to be with him and to send us out. The devil wants to divide us from Jesus and prevent our going out as effective, ardent apostles. And he normally seeks to achieve both objectives by division, dividing us from genuine love of neighbor and thereby separating us from God.
Look at the world that surrounds us right now.
A world that has grown increasing polarized as a result of two world wars and never-ending wars between nation, various genocides and the cold war. As a result of a growing separation between north and south, between rich and poor, developed and developing, countries have become playgrounds for the evil which seeks to draw us away from living the words of Jesus Christ.
Our faith stands on the conviction that the cross and resurrection of Jesus has broken the back of the devil and has inaugurated the ultimate defeat of evil. But that defeat is not complete. Even though the devil’s back is broken, he continues to crawl along and spread evil in our world.
His final defeat will not occur until Jesus returns and destroys every evil forever. Until that day, our job is to take up Jesus’ mission, to fight with him against the evil that surrounds us, to undermine the power of evil in our world.
Augustine of Hippo said that our lives have a God-shaped void which only God can fill. If we attempt to leave it vacant or to fill it with something else which is not of God, we will end up being in a worse state in the end.
What do you fill the void in your life with? The Lord Jesus wants to fill our minds and hearts with the power of his life-giving word and healing love. Jesus makes it very clear that there are no neutral parties in this world. We are either for the Lord Jesus or against him, for the kingdom of God or against it. We cannot serve two kingdoms opposed to each another. There are ultimately only two universal kingdoms which stand in opposition to one another – the kingdom of God – his kingdom of light and truth – and the kingdom of darkness – which is opposed to God’s truth and justice and which is dominated by Satan’s lies and deception. If we disobey God’s word, we open to door to the power of sin and the deception of Satan in our personal lives.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, be the ruler of my heart and the master of my home. May there be nothing in my life that is not under your lordship.”
Sometimes we imagine that being a Christian is merely about knowing the prayers, singing the songs, coming to church, avoiding sin. These are all good things. But at the heart of discipleship is the commitment to join in Jesus’ mission, to take up arms against evil – wherever we find it.
Being a disciple of Jesus is taking up the battle against evil. It is more than avoiding sin. It is helping to create a new world. Following Christ is more than keeping ourselves pure. It is standing with Christ, facing the devil in the eye and saying, “Your power stops with me.”