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A House Divided Will Not Stand

February 8, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014: Third Week in Ordinary Time

2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10. You shall shepherd my people Israel.
Mark 3:22-30. It is the end of Satan.

Gospel Reflection:

Praise be to Jesus Christ! For evermore!

It is said that the opposite of love is not hate as one would think, but fear; fear of the truth, fear of the unknown, fear of the light, fear of others, fear of trying, fear of change, fear of being different, fear of losing out; of losing what you don’t have. As Matthew Kelly writes, “We can never get enough of what we don’t really need.” This is not a foreign concept. We here in attendance today ARE the faithful; we are the 25% who come to Mass to hear our Pastor impart some wisdom on us every single week. We have hope, mostly, in our human way, because we know who wins; how the story ends.

What about the others? What about those who are unsure of their faith, or of any faith? What do we do about them? How do we teach them that it is OK to do the right thing when everyone standing around them is tapping their foot waiting for them to do the wrong thing? The fear of not fitting in. That is what our youth are going through right now! How do we teach them not to despair? How do we not despair? After all, this peer-fear affects both young and old alike.

Today’s Gospel reading confronts this proliferation of fear. Head on. The scribes come and accuse the Lord of possession by Beelzebul – the prince of demons. Their fear mongering brings him to a teaching moment. First, “how can Satan drive out Satan?” In Mark’s Greek it reads ho satanas – The Accuser. Satan is indeed at work here, in the world, spreading fear through these accusers. And then Lord reminds us ‘a house divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.’ And Satan risen up against himself cannot stand; he is not that foolish. Therefore, teaches the Lord, this is not the problem.

One of the devil’s other names: ho diabolos – The Divider. He comes in and creates fear through accusations and causes weakness and sin through division. Christ the stronger man, comes in, ties up the fear, and rescues those helpless against their sin. So, ultimately, it is the evil that these scribes are aligned with – unwittingly, blinded by trying to hang on to their fragile power over the people. And they totally miss the point of the parable: that these demons won’t fall because they have been weakened by divisions in the ranks, but because Christ in his love will conquer them all with the strength of his Love. It is a wonderful, wonderful parable.

This past weekend, many of us saw the coverage of the March for Life on television, or heard it on the radio, or better yet – attended a rally in person. My life has been blessed by infusing in it the demonstrable faith of some amazing and heroic saints-in-progress. Friends like Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, Mr. David Renshaw, Mr. Richard Lane, and Ms. Bernadette Smythe – the tip of the spear for Precious Life of Ireland. And acquaintances like Mr. Hector Molina, Mr. Gary Zimak, Mr. John Pridmore, Mr. Matthew Kelly, and Fr. Don Calloway. And stalwarts like Mrs. Abby Johnson, and Ms. Alveda King. The Holy Fathers, Popes John Paul, Benedict, and Francis. And countless others. Helping me learn my faith, and that evil does not overcome the world. And I still have far to go!

This March for Life weekend was not accusing, dividing fear at work in the world. This massive – and growing – peaceful, non-violent demonstration happening all over the world was love. Love – not as a means to some misguided purpose, but as an end unto itself; for respect for life, ALL life; leading, ultimately, to the salvation of souls. Not objectively loving, but loving as Christ does. With forgiveness, and mercy, and charity, we can defeat any evil also. There is no unforgiveable sin in principle since no sin can place us beyond the reach of God’s mercy. When people in fear, relinquish their fear, they relinquish Sin’s hold on their lives, and they become strong in truth. When we can love unconditionally, all peoples, then life will not be in fear any longer.

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