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.
Each day, when we practice the Examen prayer, we reflect on and listen to the voice of God in our lives. We can also reflect on where we have failed God and why. One of the fruits of St. Ignatius’ gift to us in prayer regards the discernment of spirits. That is, the Good Spirit – God, and the Evil Spirit – Satan. St. Ignatius presumes spirits of good and evil as part of our world. This is perhaps, because as followers of Jesus, we see and hear Jesus commenting and acting on this on so many occasions in the Gospels.
Today’s Gospel is complex. It is not straightforward. What is clear in Jesus’ message, however, is that if it is the “finger of God that drives out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.” In other words, we know when the Good Spirit, the Spirit of God acts in our lives. It is clear to us.
What are less clear are the manifestations of the evil spirit. We know we are sinners and we know, especially upon reflection, when that spirit pulls us away from our best selves – the person God intended us to be. We sin. It is curious in the Gospel today, Jesus identifies that the evil spirit can be driven out by good, but can also return with a vengeance.
This insight into our human frailty in the face of sin is a confirmation of the blessings of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Attended with frequency, we invite the “finger of God” to help us in the challenges of the Spirits, knowing we are ever susceptible.
On this Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, we are also reminded of Mary, who among all was born without that Original Sin and who we can look to as a model of a life with the Good Spirit of God. We look to Mary’s intercession to her Son, Jesus, for the Spirit of Good He brings to each one of us.
-Mr. David Laughlin is the President of St. Louis U. High.
Hail Mary, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women. As I pray the Rosary today, help me to grow closer to the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God pray for me now, a sinner; that all I do up to the hour of my death is for God’s greater glory. Amen.
Please share the Good Word with your friends!