But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? —for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul.
Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder.
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.“ When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Saint Ignatius had many courtly skills, but it is perhaps his lack of diplomacy that we might remember today. Saint Ignatius unwaveringly chose sides, envisioning himself as a warrior beneath the banner of Christ, marching into battle. His zeal for souls often had him, even while still a layman, targeting the heads of clergy whose lives were scandalous.
He once accosted one such ecclesiastical dignitary saying, “What astonishes me is that you do not hear the voice of your conscience! Has God placed you in the world that you may think of nothing but entertaining yourself as if there were neither a Heaven nor a Hell?. . . If, at this moment, death were to overtake you, where would you be, and what would become of you forever? What account would you have to render? I do not say this for the many blessings of which you have made such bad use, but for so many souls which you have lost and are daily losing!”
Although Saint Ignatius labored with a sharp tongue, the final goal for which he aimed was unmistakably Christian perfection, in fraternity and faithfulness. He knew that divisions among Christians signaled disaster and that the divisions of the Protestant Reformation were of primary concern. However, rather than peel off into yet another sect seeking apparent purity in an insular existence, Saint Ignatius sought true reform for the glory of God and the good of His Church.
It is no wonder that even in his castigation of the scandalous clergyman, he referred to himself as the clergyman’s staunch friend and ally, saying, “My affection and devotion to you are such that, out of a thousand friends, there may not be one so sincerely devoted to you.”
Let us pray for the grace to follow the example of Saint Ignatius, understanding our only enemy to be the Evil Spirit and our only friend to be the whole of humanity and the God that rules over it.
—Fr. John Brown, S.J.
Lord, let the words of Saint Ignatius guide me as I journey through this day. Let me commit his words to my soul and let me wait with great expectations for the graces I will receive. I pray, Lord, that my “only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening his life in me.”