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October 09, 2020

St. John Henry Newman

Lk 11: 15-26

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.

Integration rather than disintegration

Both readings today deal with discernment: how do we tell what is of God from what is not, or tell what leads to God from what does not? (Today’s first reading is Galatians 3: 7-14.) In both cases, the answer seems to be to look at the outcome (and St. Ignatius would agree). By healing a person of an unclean spirit, Jesus allows them to enter more freely into relationship with their neighbors. Healing leads to integration rather than disintegration.

“Satan” means “the adversary,” from a verb meaning “to obstruct or oppose”. By definition, the adversary works towards disintegration, scattering, not gathering. In C.S. Lewis’ imagining, hell results from cutting oneself off from relationship with God and others, becoming increasingly self-absorbed and self-isolated. The people in the gray world of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce can’t stand each other, so they move ever farther apart from anyone else. At the end of The Screwtape Letters, the demon Screwtape turns out to have been planning a betrayal of his apprentice all along. The adversary is divided and cannot stand – indeed, Satan has already been defeated through the Cross.

This applies to our interior lives as well as our external relationships. How am I divided against myself? How do I act against my own best interests for spiritual health? Surely, if I am to stand at all, I need God’s help and healing to unify my beliefs, my actions, and the reality of my life.

Molly Mattingly is the Director of Music Ministry at St. John’s Parish and Creighton University Campus Ministry.

 

Prayer

For the healing of the nations, Lord, we pray with one accord;
For a just and equal sharing of the things that earth affords.
To a life of love and action, help us rise and pledge our word. 

Lead us now, Lord, into freedom, from despair, your world release;
That redeemed from war and hatred, all may come and go in peace.
Show us how through care and goodness fear will die and hope increase.

You, creator God, have written Your great name on humankind;
For our growing in your likeness, bring the life of Christ to mind:
That, by our response and service, Earth its destiny may find.

—Lyrics to “For the Healing of the Nations” by Fred Kaan, © 1968, Hope Publishing Co. 


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October 09, 2020

St. John Henry Newman

Lk 11: 15-26

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.

Integration rather than disintegration

Both readings today deal with discernment: how do we tell what is of God from what is not, or tell what leads to God from what does not? (Today’s first reading is Galatians 3: 7-14.) In both cases, the answer seems to be to look at the outcome (and St. Ignatius would agree). By healing a person of an unclean spirit, Jesus allows them to enter more freely into relationship with their neighbors. Healing leads to integration rather than disintegration.

“Satan” means “the adversary,” from a verb meaning “to obstruct or oppose”. By definition, the adversary works towards disintegration, scattering, not gathering. In C.S. Lewis’ imagining, hell results from cutting oneself off from relationship with God and others, becoming increasingly self-absorbed and self-isolated. The people in the gray world of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce can’t stand each other, so they move ever farther apart from anyone else. At the end of The Screwtape Letters, the demon Screwtape turns out to have been planning a betrayal of his apprentice all along. The adversary is divided and cannot stand – indeed, Satan has already been defeated through the Cross.

This applies to our interior lives as well as our external relationships. How am I divided against myself? How do I act against my own best interests for spiritual health? Surely, if I am to stand at all, I need God’s help and healing to unify my beliefs, my actions, and the reality of my life.

Molly Mattingly is the Director of Music Ministry at St. John’s Parish and Creighton University Campus Ministry.

 

Prayer

For the healing of the nations, Lord, we pray with one accord;
For a just and equal sharing of the things that earth affords.
To a life of love and action, help us rise and pledge our word. 

Lead us now, Lord, into freedom, from despair, your world release;
That redeemed from war and hatred, all may come and go in peace.
Show us how through care and goodness fear will die and hope increase.

You, creator God, have written Your great name on humankind;
For our growing in your likeness, bring the life of Christ to mind:
That, by our response and service, Earth its destiny may find.

—Lyrics to “For the Healing of the Nations” by Fred Kaan, © 1968, Hope Publishing Co. 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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