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A Kingdom Divided
Thursday of the Third Week of Lent
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 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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I place myself before you with a desire to understand the Scriptures better. I long to be an integral part of your Kingdom and let you reign in me. Bless me as I ponder your words.
- Ill Logic: During his ministry, everywhere Jesus went he drove back the powers of evil. Devils wailed, moaned, and begged him to take pity on them. Evil was utterly at a loss before Christ. And the people witnessed this repeatedly. Yet, his distractors dared to proclaim that Jesus’ power originated with evil. Were they panicked by the power of these miracles on display? Were they afraid of losing their own power to this prophet? Or were they just provoking bystanders to hate Jesus? How exasperated must Jesus have been at this silly claim they made. Everyone knows that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. Furthermore, Christ argued, “If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out?” In the face of their crazy logic, did Our Lord lose his patience with them? Did he chide them or criticize their nonsensical claims? No. Jesus merely stated the obvious and let each person make up his or her own mind about who to follow: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
- The Kingdom of God Has Come Upon You: Those who saw Jesus cast out demons heard him pronounce, “…the Kingdom of God has come upon you.” Every individual had to consider his/her experience that day and decide whether or not it would change their lives. In our life, too, there are consequences to believing in Christ. Being a Christian means acknowledging that Christ is our King and ruler, and as such, we must obey his commandments. Not only are we called to obey, but we are to become instruments to extend his Kingdom to others. We can fulfill this mission joyfully because we know beyond doubt that Jesus is our strong man, fully armed. With him we are safe.
- Scattering or Gathering: As followers of Jesus, we long to be gatherers, not scatterers. Gatherers are lovers. They embody the two greatest commandments: Love God and love one another. As gatherers, we love the Lord so much that we want to extend his Kingdom here on earth to the best of our ability, according to our unique mission. We have confidence in God that he gives us what we need to accomplish his will. Gatherers are saints in the making. Full of supernatural hope, we count on the Lord to complete the works of transformation in us and those we love because we know how much he loves all of us.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I thank you for what you’ve done in my life so far. I know that without your power, I would be a slave to sin. I know that your great work of dying on the cross for me has liberated me from evil. Even though sin is still a battle in my life, my confidence is totally in you, for you are the strong one, the one who has the certain victory. Help me to cling to you so as to always enjoy your gifts and your victory.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on and take note of three gifts (the “spoils”) that God has given me by restoring me to his grace.
For Further Reflection: St. Francis de Sales on temptation.
Fr. Adam Zettel, LC, was ordained in 2017 and worked for three years as a high school chaplain in Dallas, Texas. Now he resides in Oakville, Ontario, serving youth and young adults.