Scattering

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.”
(Luke 11:15-26)

Scripture Study

11:15 He casts out demons: Jesus forces his opponents to decide for themselves whether he is empowered by God or the devil, leaving no neutral ground for them to stand upon. Beelzebul: A derogatory name for Satan. A Philistine god worshiped at Ekron (2 Kings 1:2–16). It translates something like “Prince Baal”, a well-known god of the Canaanites. Jews mockingly changed its meaning to “lord of flies” or “lord of dung”. In the Gospels, it refers to Satan, “the prince of demons.”

11:20 the finger of God: i.e., the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:28; CCC 700). ● Jesus alludes to Ex 8:19, where Pharaoh’s magicians finally confess that their own sorcery has been outmatched by the power of Yahweh. Jesus likewise wields divine power that is far superior to that of other exorcists in his day (11:19).

11:22 one stronger: A reference to Jesus, who overthrows Satan and plunders his house of sinners held captive (13:16; Is 49:24–25; Heb 2:14–15).

11:26 the last state: Those delivered of demons must be filled with the goodness of Christ’s kingdom. To benefit from his ministry without accepting his message leads to spiritual ruin (2 Pet 2:20).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel we learn of a person possessed by a demon. Jesus meets the man and drives out the demon, but then is immediately accused of being in league with Satan. Some of the witnesses said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.”

Jesus’ response is wonderful in its logic and laconicism: “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?”

The demonic power is always one of scattering. It breaks up communion. But Jesus, as always, is the voice of communio, of one bringing things back together.

Think back to Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. Facing a large, hungry crowd, his disciples beg him to “dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus answers, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”

Whatever drives the Church apart is an echo of this “dismiss the crowds” impulse and a reminder of the demonic tendency to divide. In times of trial and threat, this is a very common instinct. We blame, attack, break up, and disperse. But Jesus is right: “There is no need for them to go away.”

And today he says, “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.