A House Divided

Scripture Reading

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, 
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, 
“How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself, 
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, 
he cannot stand; 
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property 
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house. 
Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies 
that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit 
will never have forgiveness, 
but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
(Mark 3:22-30)


Scripture Study

3:22 Beelzebul: A pagan god worshipped at Ekron (see Baalzebub, 2 Kings 1:2–16). The name probably meant “Prince Baal”. The scribes use it as a disdainful title for Satan. by the prince of demons: It was commonly held that weaker demons could be exorcised by more powerful ones. The scribes wrongfully attribute Jesus’ power to the sorcery of Satan, the most powerful demon of all (Mt 9:34; 10:25; CCC 548).

3:24–25 By ascribing the power of Jesus to Satan, the scribes reveal their own collaboration with the devil’s kingdom. Satan’s house will fall because Christ will conquer him, not because his demons are weakened by divisions within their own ranks (Heb 2:14; 1 Jn 3:8).

3:29 an eternal sin: The scribes utter blasphemy by attributing to Satan what is actually the work of the Holy Spirit (3:22, 30). Their sin is not unforgivable in principle since no sin can place us beyond the reach of God’s mercy. However, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is a form of rebellion that is particularly grievous because it blinds people to their own need for forgiveness; in this case, sins are unpardonable when they are not confessed with contrition (CCC 1864). ● The sin against the Holy Spirit was prefigured in the OT when the Israelites fashioned the golden calf (Ex 32:1–6). Instead of giving worship and thanks to Yahweh for their deliverance, they honored as their true redeemer an idol of their own making (Ex 32:4).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel speaks plainly of Satan and sin. And in light of today’s anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, we still feel the echoes. When we look realistically at the society around us, we can become pretty discouraged. The conservative estimate regarding the number of abortions since Roe v. Wade is 54,000,000. That’s nine times Hitler’s holocaust. Assisted suicide was recently made legal in the state of California. The death penalty remains a blight on many of our states. And most people in our culture now feel that these states of affairs are simply a fact of life. The culture of death, as St. John Paul called it so bluntly, seems to be on the march.

But I want everyone to attend to what the prophet Habakkuk tells us: “Write down the vision clearly on the tablets…for the vision…will not disappoint.” What is he talking about? He’s describing the arrival of salvation to a people who had grown weary and desperate, convinced that God had abandoned them. And he is urging them to have faith, to trust.

And so on this somber anniversary, we continue to raise our voices and to walk according to faith. Our vision will not disappoint.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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



[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 71–72.