Mar 16 2023 Reflection
Thursday 16 March 2023
First Reading: Jer 7:23-28
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Ps 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Gospel Reading: Lk 11:14-23
Today’s Note: 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.”
What is the best protection which brings lasting security to our lives? Scripture tells us that true peace and security come to those who trust in God and obey his word. “Obey my voice and walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you” (Jeremiah 7:23). The struggle between choosing to do good or evil, yielding to my will or God’s will, God’s way or my way, cannot be won by human strength or will-power alone. Our enemy, the devil, conspires with the “world” (whatever is opposed to God and his truth and righteousness) and our “flesh” (whatever inclines us to yield to hurtful desires and wrongdoing), to draw us away from the peace, joy, and security which God provides for those who put their trust in him.
Peter the Apostles tells us, Our adversary, the devil prowls the earth seeking the ruin of souls (1 Peter 5:8-9). The devil is opposed to God and he seeks to draw us away from God’s plan and will for our lives. God offers us grace (his merciful help and strength) and protection (from Satan’s lies and deception) if we are willing to obey his word and resist the devil’s lies and temptations. Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your habitation, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways (Psalm 91:9-11). The Lord offers us the peace and security of his kingdom which lasts forever and which no other power can overcome.
God’s kingdom brings healing and freedom from the destructive forces of sin and Satan
Jesus’ numerous exorcisms brought freedom to many who were troubled and oppressed by the work of evil spirits. Jesus himself encountered personal opposition and battled with Satan when he was put to the test in the wilderness just before his public ministry (Luke 4:1-13). He overcame the evil one through his obedience to the will of his Father. Some of the Jewish leaders reacted vehemently to Jesus’ healings and exorcisms and they opposed him with malicious slander. How could he get the power and authority to release individuals from Satan’s power? They assumed that he had to be in league with Satan. They attributed his power to Satan rather than to God.
Jesus answers their charge with two arguments. There were many exorcists among the Jews in Jesus’ time. So Jesus retorted by saying that they also incriminate their own kin who cast out demons. If they condemn Jesus they also condemn themselves. In his second argument he asserts that no kingdom divided against itself can survive for long? We have witnessed enough civil wars in our own time to prove the destructive force at work here for the annihilation of whole peoples and their land. If Satan lends his power against his own forces then he is finished. How can a strong person be defeated except by someone who is stronger? Jesus asserted his power and authority to cast out demons as a clear demonstration of the reign of God.
Jesus’ reference to the finger of God points back to Moses’ confrontation with Pharoah and his magicians who represented Satan and the kingdom of darkness (see Exodus 8:19). Jesus claims to be carrying on the tradition of Moses whose miracles freed the Israelites from bondage by the finger of God. God’s power is clearly at work in the exorcisms which Jesus performed and they give evidence that God’s kingdom has come.
Is Jesus the Master of your life?
Jesus makes it clear that there are no neutral parties. We are either for Jesus or against him, for the kingdom of God or against it. There are two kingdoms in opposition to one another – the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness under the rule of Satan. If we disobey God’s word, we open to door to the power of sin and Satan in our lives. If you want to live in freedom from sin and Satan, then your “house” – your life and possessions (all that you rely upon for livelihood, peace, and security) – must be occupied by Jesus where he is enthroned as Lord and Savior. Is the Lord Jesus the Master of your home, heart, mind, and will?
O Lord, our God, grant us, we beseech you, patience in troubles, humility in comforts, constancy in temptations, and victory over all our spiritual foes. Grant us sorrow for our sins, thankfulness for your benefits, fear of your judgment, love of your mercies, and mindfulness of your presence; now and for ever. (Prayer by John Cosin)