And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”
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.
Today’s Gospel is a complicated scene, but essentially Jesus is affirming his own healing power as derived from the Father. Many people doubted Jesus and his ministry. Even some of his followers would have been skeptical. Because their egos were threatened by Jesus and his message, the intellectual, political, and economic elite–the scribes–sought to discredit him. Jesus’ message didn’t jive with their rigid interpretation of religion, nor was his message of mercy compatible with the operational norms of their culture.
If you follow the text, you will see that this passage is inserted between writings which convey Jesus’ mercy and his authority. You are invited to consider, “Do I trust Jesus’ ‘authority’?” Such a question often elicits doubt, which is quite natural. We might pray for a greater awareness of the work of Christ in our daily lives. This grace inevitably arrives. Perhaps this is the “authority” about which Mark writes.
—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.
Holy Spirit, come into my heart, and in your power draw it to you.
—St. Catherine of Siena