Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute man 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.” (Luke 11:14-23)
Talk about hardened minds and hearts.
The scribes and Pharisees had not only turned their necks and backs toward Jesus, they refused to accept that any of the incontestable exorcisms happened by the finger of God. They accused Jesus of working exorcisms by the power of the prince of devils. Their hardened hearts had led them to a hardening of the brain.
Jesus not only rebuts them but he takes the opportunity of introducing the thought that no kingdom divided against itself can survive for long. Look around the world today and see the divisions that abound. . . the horrifying tales of genocide that we read . . . the ethnic cleansing that occurs . . . nations against nations . . . countries riddled with divisions over partisan politics. . . and on and on.
There is one constant factor in all of it. The power of evil that thrives in division, animosity and hatred. It never goes away, does it?
Jesus came to defeat evil. He preached a Gospel that is the very antithesis of evil. He came to create his Father’s kingdom on earth. He came to save us from the damning effect of evil. That battle continues through today, doesn’t it?
The evil one will use anything he can to try to get a foothold in us so that he can begin dividing us from the Lord and others. If he can get us to have a hardened heart to the voice of the Lord in Sacred Scripture, that’s where he’ll start, because he knows that partially hardened hearts lead to hardening of the spiritual arteries and blocks turned toward the Lord. If he can harden our hearts by tempting us not to forgive someone else, that’s where he’ll start. If he can harden our hearts through resentment of a superior’s request or command, he will. Any way that he can seek to divide us, within ourselves, among ourselves, or in our relationship with God through sin or tepidity, he will, seeking to metastasize that spiritual cancer later.
Rather than turning our backs toward Him, we need to turn our faces in prayer and in thanksgiving. Rather than hardening our hearts, we need to soften them, by responding to his merciful help to love ever more all that he teaches us, listening to his words as words to be done, and then helping others to receive and live by this same gift of mercy. Rather than stiffening our necks, he wants us to turn with him when he turns to the Father, when he turns to the poor that he wants us to help, when he turns toward our family members that we need to forgive, when he turns toward Sacred Scripture in order to instruct us in his ways.
We can’t have divided hearts. We either love Our Lord and follow His gospel of love or we admit that we follow a different Master. It’s our choice. Each day.
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 separates me from the healing power of your love.”
Jesus makes it very clear that there are no neutral parties in this world. We are either for Jesus or against him, for the kingdom of God or against it. There are ultimately only two kingdoms which stand in opposition to one another – the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness which is under the rule of Satan. If we disobey God’s word, we open to door to the power of sin and Satan. If we want to live in true freedom, then our “house” (the inner core of our true being) must be occupied by Jesus where he is enthroned as Lord and Savior. The Lord assures us of his protection from spiritual harm and he gives us the help and strength we need to resist the devil and his lies (James 4:7).