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.”
Are you possessed by a demon? Probably not.
Are you being harassed by an evil spirit? According to St. Ignatius, absolutely.
Ignatius came to realize that evil spirits act as voices sowing fear, doubt, pride and jealousy in our hearts. Whenever we listen to them, we are left in desolation.
Ignatius also realized, though, that there is a way to guard against these destructive spirits. We simply need to find the “stronger man” from today’s Gospel to defend us.
Luckily, we need not go far to find this stronger man. It is Christ, and he already lives within each of us. When we tune into Christ’s voice in our hearts, the result is peace, joy and love. Just as light dispels darkness, the consolation of Christ speaking in our hearts utterly dispels desolation.
Let’s pay more attention to the movements of our hearts. If we do so, we are sure to begin hearing the voice of Christ leading us to greater peace, joy and love.
You have created me out of love to know you, love you
and serve you in a way no one else can do.
Your plans for me are far greater than any
I might dare dream for myself.
Lord, grant that I might be open to your grace
to know the next good step in your plan for my life.
Give me the courage and the generosity to say “Yes”!
Show me your will for me, O Lord, and help me to say with Mary,
“I am the servant of the Lord: let it be done to me according to your word.”
—Attributed to the Most Reverend George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha
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