1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
many of us never had it so good
and so we have become smug and self-satisfied,
happy in our own little world.
God, may our ears remain open to your word
and our hearts to you
and to our brothers and sisters.
Do not allow us to forget you,
or to place our trust in ourselves.
Make us restless for you
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 11, 14-23
He was driving out a devil and it was dumb; and it happened that when the devil had gone out the dumb man spoke, and the people were amazed. But some of them said, 'It is through Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that he drives devils out.'
Others asked him, as a test, for a sign from heaven; but, knowing what they were thinking, he said to them, 'Any kingdom which is divided against itself is heading for ruin, and house collapses against house. So, too, with Satan: if he is divided against himself, how can his kingdom last? - since you claim that it is through Beelzebul that I drive devils out. Now if it is through Beelzebul that I drive devils out, through whom do your own sons drive them out? They shall be your judges, then. But if it is through the finger of God that I drive devils out, then the kingdom of God has indeed caught you unawares. So long as a strong man fully armed guards his own home, his goods are undisturbed; but when someone stronger than himself attacks and defeats him, the stronger man takes away all the weapons he relied on and shares out his spoil.
'Anyone who is not with me is against me; and anyone who does not gather in with me throws away.
• Today’s Gospel is that of Luke. We already meditated on the parallel text of Mark (Mk 3, 22-27) during January.
• Luke 11, 14-16: The diverse reactions before the expulsion of a devil. Jesus had expelled a devil which was dumb. The expulsion produced two different reactions. On the one side, the crowd of persons who remain astonished and surprised. The people accept Jesus and believe in him. On the other side, those who do not accept Jesus and do not believe in him. Among the latter, some said that Jesus cast out the devils in the name of Beelzebul, the prince of devils, and others wanted a sign from heaven. Mark says that it was a question of the Scribes who had come from Jerusalem (Mk 3,22), who were not in agreement with the liberty of Jesus. They wanted to defend the Tradition against the novelty of Jesus.
• Luke 11, 17-22: Jesus’ answer is divided into three parts:
1st part: Comparison with a divided kingdom. (vv. 17-18a) Jesus denounces the absurdity of the calumny of the Scribes. To say that he casts out the devils with the help of the prince of the devils means to deny the evidence. It is the same thing as saying that water is dry, and that the sun is darkness. The Doctors of Jerusalem slandered against him because they did not know how to explain the benefits which Jesus fulfilled for the people. They were afraid to lose their leadership. They felt threatened in their authority before the people.
2nd part: through whom do your own sons drive them out? (
vv. 18b-20) Jesus provokes the accusers and asks: “”But if it is through Beelzebul that I drive out devils, in whose name do your disciples drive them out?” Let them respond and explain themselves! “If I drive out the devil through the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has indeed caught you unawares”.
3rd part: when someone stronger than himself attacks and defeats him, the stronger one takes away all weapons. (vv. 21-22) Jesus compares the devil to a strong man. Nobody, except a stronger person, can rob in the house of a strong man: Jesus is the strongest. This is why he succeeds to enter into the house and to get hold of the strong man. He succeeds in driving out the devils. Jesus seizes the strong man and now robs in his house, that is, he liberates the persons who were under the power of evil. The Prophet Isaiah had used the same comparison to describe the coming of the Messiah (Is 49, 24-25). This is why Luke says that the expulsion of the devil is an evident sign that the Kingdom of God has arrived.
• Luke 11, 23: Anyone who is not with me is against me. Jesus ends his response with this phrase: “Anyone who is not with me is against me. And anyone who does not gather in with me throws away”. On another occasion, also regarding the expulsion of a devil, the disciples prevented a man to use the name of Jesus to drive out the devil because he was not one of their group. Jesus answered: “You must not stop him: anyone who is not against you is for you!”. (Lk 9, 50). These two phrases seem to be contradictory, but they are not. The phrase in today’s Gospel is said against the enemies who have a preconception against Jesus: “Anyone who is not with me is against me. And anyone who does not gather in with me throws away”. The preconception and the lack of acceptance make dialogue impossible and break the union. The other phrase is said for the disciples who thought they had the monopoly on Jesus. “Anyone who is not against you is for you!” Many persons who are not Christians practice love, goodness, justice, many times in a much better way than Christians. We cannot exclude them. They are brothers and workers in the construction of the Kingdom. We Christians are not the owners of Jesus. On the contrary: Jesus is our Lord!
4) Personal questions
• “Anyone who is not with me, is against me. And anyone who does not gather in with me, throws away”. How does this take place in my life?
• “Do not stop him, because anyone who is not against you is for you!” How does this take place in my life?
5) Concluding Prayer
Come, let us cry out with joy to Yahweh,
acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving,
acclaim him with music. (Ps 95-1-2)