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Christ’s Saving Kingdom
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: Jesus, you are meek and humble of heart, but you are also powerful and mighty (Matthew 11:29, Ephesians 1:21). Come to my heart and reign there always as my King.
- The Kingdom Is Christ: The kingdom of God has come upon the earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict wrote, “The kingdom is not a thing, it is not a geographical dominion like worldly kingdoms. It is a person; it is he. In this interpretation, the term ‘kingdom of God’ is itself a veiled Christology. By the way in which he speaks of the kingdom of God, Jesus leads men to realize the overwhelming fact that in him God himself is present among them, that he is God’s presence” (Jesus of Nazareth, Part 1). The people in the crowd could not fathom that God was truly among them, so they thought that Jesus was using Satan’s spiritual power to trick them.
- The Kingdom Brings Salvation: The kingdom of God is Christ, and his mission is salvation. St. John Paul II wrote about the saving action that Christ enacts by healing those who have been possessed: “The acts of liberation from demonic possession–the supreme evil and symbol of sin and rebellion against God–are signs that indeed ‘the kingdom of God has come upon you’” (Matthew 12:28). He continues, summing up the mission of the kingdom: “In a word, the kingdom of God is the manifestation and the realization of God’s plan of salvation in all its fullness” (Redemptoris Missio, 14-15).
- The Kingdom Is Powerful: In the kingdom of God, there is no tolerance for evil. Jesus came to destroy sin, evil, and the death that it wrought: “The Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Satan does have power because he is a pure spirit. But Jesus is much, much stronger. The Catechism states, “The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He cannot prevent the building up of God’s reign” (CCC 395). The Church, through Peter and his successors, holds the keys to Christ’s kingdom. The Church, with the authority of Christ’s kingdom, is stronger than Satan. Jesus tells Peter of this power when he gives him the keys to the kingdom: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I believe that you have the power to save us from sin, evil, and death. Your power is stronger than all things. Sometimes I can be dismayed by the evil in this world and forget that you are the God of all things in heaven and earth. You even hold the keys to death and to hell (Revelation 1:18). All things are in your hands. Help me rest in that knowledge, and help me be emboldened to build up your kingdom here on earth.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray a rosary as “a glorious weapon against Satan” (Padre Pio).
For Further Reflection: Read Chapter 2 of Redemptoris Missio by St. John Paul II: “The Kingdom of God.”
Written by Carey Boyzuck.