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"Lectio divina is an authentic source of Christian spirituality recommended by our Rule. We therefore practice it every day, so that we may develop a deep and genuine love for it, and so that we may grow in the surpassing knowledge of Christ. In this way we shall put into practice the Apostle Paul’s commandment, which is mentioned in our Rule: “Let the sword of the spirit, the Word of God, live abundantly in your mouth and in your hearts; and whatever you must do, do it in the name of the Lord.”

 Carmelite Constitutions (No. 82)

Lectio Divina: Luke 11:15-26

Lectio Divina

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

your love for us
surpasses all our hopes and desires.
Forgive our failings,
keep us in your peace
and lead us in the way of salvation.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Luke 11:15-26

Jesus was driving out a devil, but some of the people 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.

'When an unclean spirit goes out of someone it wanders through waterless country looking for a place to rest, and not finding one it says, "I will go back to the home I came from." But on arrival, finding it swept and tidied, it then goes off and brings seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and set up house there, and so that person ends up worse off than before.'

3) Reflection

• Today's Gospel speaks about a long discussion around the expulsion of a mute demon which Jesus had performed before the people.

• Luke 11: 14-16: Three diverse reactions in the face of that expulsion. Jesus was casting out devils. Before this very visible fact, in front of everyone, there were three different reactions. People were surprised, astonished and applauded. Others said: "it is in the name of Beelzebul that He casts out devils". The Gospel of Mark tells us that it was a question of the Scribes who had gone to Jerusalem to control the activity of Jesus (Mk 3, 22). Others still asked for a sign from heaven because they were not convinced by a sign as evident as as the expulsion done in front of all the people.

• Luke 11: 17-19: Jesus shows the incoherence of the enemies. Jesus uses two arguments to confront the accusation of casting out the devil in the name of Beelzebul. In the first place, if the devil casts out the devil himself, he divides himself and will not survive. In the second place, Jesus gives them back their argument: If I cast out the demons in name of Beelzebul, your disciples cast them out in whose name? With these words, they were also casting out demons in the name of Beelzebul. .

• Luke 11: 20-23: Jesus is the strongest man who has come, a sign of the arrival of the Kingdom. Here Jesus leads us to the central point of his argument: "When 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 his spoil". According to the opinion of the people of that time, Satan dominated the world through the demons (daimônia). He was a strong and well armed man who guarded his house. The great novelty was the fact that Jesus succeeded to cast out the demons. This was a sign that He was and is the strongest man who has come. With the coming of Jesus the kingdom of Beelzebul was declining: "But if it is through the finger of God that I drive devils out, then the kingdom of God has indeed caught you unawares". When the magicians of Pharaoh saw that Moses did things that they were not capable of doing, they were more honest than the Scribes before Jesus and they said: "Here is the finger of God!" (Ex 8: 16-19).

• Luke 11: 24-26: The second fall is worse than the first one. At the time of Luke in the 80's, a time of persecution, many Christians returned back and abandoned the community. They went back to live as before. To warn them and all of us, Luke keeps these words of Jesus about the second fall which is worse than the first one.

• The expulsion of the demons. The first impact caused by the action of Jesus among the people is the expulsion of the demons: "He gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him!" (Mk 1: 27). One of the principal causes of the discussion of Jesus with the Scribes was the expulsion of the devils. They slandered against Him saying: "He is possessed by Beelzebul!" "It is in the name of Beelzebul, head of demons that He casts out devils!" The first power that the Apostles received when they were sent out on mission was the power to drive out demons. "He gave them authority over unclean spirits" (Mk 6: 7). The first sign which accompanies the announcement of the Resurrection is the expulsion of demons. "The signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils!" (Mk 16: 17). The expulsion of devils was what struck people more (Mc 1: 27). This reached the center of the Good News of the Kingdom. By means of the expulsion Jesus restored or recovered persons to themselves. He restored their judgment and their conscience (Mk 5: 15). Especially in the Gospel of Mark, from beginning until the end, with words which are almost the same, constantly repeats the same image: "And Jesus cast out devils!" (Mk 1: 26.34.39; 3: 11-12. 22.30; 5: 1-20; 6: 7.13; 7: 25-29; 9: 25-27.38; 16: 17). It seems to be a refrain which is always repeated. Today, instead of always using the same words, we will use different words to transmit the same image and we will say: "Jesus overcame the power of evil, Satan, who causes so much fear to people, He dominated him, seized him, conquered him, cast him out, eliminated him, exterminated him, destroyed him and killed him!" By this the Gospel wants to tell us: "It is forbidden to the Christian to fear Satan!" By his Resurrection and by his liberating action, Jesus drives away from us the fear of Satan, He gives freedom to the heart, firmness in our actions and causes hope to emerge in the horizon! We should walk along the path of Jesus savoring the victory over the power of evil!

4) Personal questions

• To drive out the power of evil. Which is today the power of evil which standardizes people and robs from them the critical conscience?
• Can you say that you are completely free? In the case of a negative response, some part of you is under the power of other forces. What do you do in order to cast out this power which dominates you?

5) Concluding prayer

Full of splendor and majesty his work,
his saving justice stands firm for ever.
He gives us a memorial of his great deeds;
Yahweh is mercy and tenderness. (Ps 111:3-4)

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As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven. 

All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister."