Reading: Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Luke 11:23.
Good morning, happy Friday, and many blessings my dear family.
In today’s Gospel (Luke 11:15-26) the crowd once again criticized Jesus for driving the demon out of a man who was possessed. Some of the people said: “He drives out demons by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons.” Others tried to test Jesus in a variety of ways. However, Jesus could read their thoughts and hearts. Finally, Jesus says to them: “Every kingdom, city, and house divided against itself will be laid waste and eventually will fall.”
Sad to say, Jesus also is warning us about Beelzebub. Typically, Beelzebul appears to us in a friendly and disarming manner. For children, Beelzebul may appear in the guise of a playmate who invites them to steal a candy bar or to throw rocks at a neighbor’s window. Or perhaps it may be a friend who encourages them to taunt a playmate who is shy or backward. For adults, it might be a co-worker who encourages us to criticize the boss. Or it may be a neighbor who seems to aggravate us just for the pleasure of it. The reality is that we typically have more than one “Beelzebub” in our lives. Thus, we have to be consistently alert to how these “Beelzebuls” strive to divide us.
Can you remember a time in your life when you experienced being divided? It may have been a personal struggle. Or perhaps you were caught between two friends who were at war with each other. Or your parents were concerned about the friends you were running around with. Yet, they were your friends! Or at work, you were asked to do something that seemed shady or dishonest. As you remember, what was that experience like for you? Most likely, it was not a peaceful or easy time for you.
Today most people do not talk about “demons.” However, the tempters are all around us. Their temptations often seem minor or insignificant. Yet if we give into these small and seemingly insignificant temptations, our life may evolve in a way that is not healthy for our families, our communities, or us. The reality is: we do need to be vigilant. Most every day we receive an invitation to stray from the path we have chosen. The invitation may come through the Internet, a TV show, or another person. Be especially alert to your personal demons. They can “get us” before we realize it!
We can see that Jesus responds to his challengers with meekness and clarity; "Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert." The kingdom to which Jesus invites us is one of unity, compassion and love. It is an earthly heaven with living in harmony. His challengers are locked in a realm of his own creation that is in fact a spiritual desert, devoid of kindness, mercy and courtesy. Today we renew our efforts to choose the kingdom of God, that is, the community of God, when the moment of decision arrives.