October 11, 2019 – Friday 27th Week in Ordinary Time
OPTIONAL MEMORIAL OF ST. JOHN XXIII, pope
A reading from 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.”
What is the difference between those who said that Jesus drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul and those who were possessed by the evil spirits?
Those who said that Jesus worked with Beelzebul were the ones who did not recognize God in the person of Jesus. Their arrogance blinded them from acknowledging that God liberates those who were distressed and suffering. The arrogance in them came from the
“self that was filled of themselves.”
This means that these Pharisees and teachers of the law had no room for God. They seemed to believe in God because of their elaborate prayers and meticulous observance of the law, but then what mattered most was for the people to recognize them and praise them of their self-righteousness. Hence, they also looked at those who were suffering and possessed by evil spirits as completely hopeless.
Consequently, Jesus cannot work in them. No matter how Jesus would desire conversion from them but their denial of God’s presence and power prevented them. Thus, arrogance truly blinds and also paralyzes ones awareness of God’s presence.
However, those who were suffering and in pain were restored by Jesus, and in this particular Gospel story, those who were possessed were liberated and healed. These kind of people recognized their need of healing, of freedom, thus, of their need of God. Through their suffering, they humbled themselves which also helped them to recognize God in the person of Jesus. Jesus, therefore, was allowed to work in them, to heal them and to free them from whatever burden and suffering they were in.
This tells us that Jesus is indeed more powerful than any evil spirit, yet, he can only work also if we would allow Jesus to heal us. Our arrogance and denial of our issues and problems would do us no good.
The Gospel reminds us too that we do not need to seek “signs from heaven” or any extra-ordinary events to happen, before we believe. Jesus works in us and brings healing in us even through ordinary means.
So, be mindful too of the goodness and kindness of the people around you, or the ordinary expressions of love and affection from your loved ones and friends, and of the power of silent prayers of those who support you because Jesus is truly present in those. Never miss, then, the encouraging and healing presence of the Lord in those familiar and ordinary expressions from our relationships. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR