THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND THE KINGDOM OF SATAN
The Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.
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. (18) 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. (23)Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
(24) “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.”
Gospel Commentary from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. Luke (with permission)
- 14-23 Jesus’ enemies remain obstinate despite the evidence of the miracle.
- Since they cannot deny that he has done something quite extraordinary, they attribute it to the power of the devil, rather than admit that Jesus is the Messiah.
- Our Lord answers them with a clinching argument: the fact that he expels demons is proof that he has brought the Kingdom of God.
- The Second Vatican Council reminds us of this truth: “The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Kingdom of God, promised over the ages in the Scriptures … The miracles of Jesus also demonstrate that the Kingdom has already come on earth: ‘If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has conic upon you’ (Lk 11:20; cf. Mt 12:28). But principally the Kingdom is revealed in the person of Christ himself, Son of God and Son of man, who came ‘to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mk 10:45)” (Vatican II, Lumen gentium, 5).
- The strong man well armed is the devil (v. 21), who has enslaved man; but Jesus Christ, one stronger than he, has come and has conquered him and is despoiling him. St Paul will say that Christ “disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them” (Col 2:15).
- After the victory of Christ, the “stronger one”, the words of v.23 are addressed to mankind at large; even if people do not want to recognize it, Jesus Christ has conquered and from now on no one can adopt an attitude of neutrality towards him: he who is not with him is against him.
- 18 Christ’s argument is very clear. One of the worst evils that can overtake the Church is disunity among Christians, disunity among believers.
- We must make our own prayer, Jesus’, “That they may be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (Jn 17:21).
- 24-26 Our Lord shows us that the devil is relentless in his struggle against man; despite man rejecting him with the help of grace, he still lays his traps, still tries to overpower him.
- Knowing all this, St Peter advises us to be sober and vigilant, because “your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking one out to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Pet 5:8-9).
- Jesus also forewarns us about the danger of being once more defeated by Satan — which would leave us worse off than we were before.
- The Latin proverb puts it very well: “corruptio optimi, pessima” (the corruption of the best is the worst).
- And St Peter, in his inspired text, inveighs against corrupt Christians, whom he compares in a graphic and frightening way to “the dog turning back to his own vomit and the sow being washed and then wallowing in the mire” (cf. 2 Pet 2:22).
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S 1ST READING
TOPIC: DO YOUR DEMONS PREVENT YOU FROM LOVING GOD AND NEIGHBOR?
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