January 27, 2020

Gospel MK 3:22-30

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”
Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables,
“How can Satan drive 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;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house.
Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies
that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Reflection

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus,
“He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and
“By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

The wisdom of Jesus’ parables and His miraculous works were met with great enthusiasm by the common people. But His popularity constituted a threat to the authority of the scribes and the religious elite of His day. Their strategy was to discredit Jesus and fill the hearts of His followers with fear by accusing Him of being in league with Satan. Personal attacks and character assassination are the tools of those who have nothing positive to offer.

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables,
“How can Satan drive 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;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house.

Jesus’ response to the scribes was one of common sense. A person cannot straddle both sides of a fence or pull on both ends of a rope and expect to make progress. If he tries to do so then he is working against himself.

“Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies
that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Jesus received His powers from God through the grace and goodness of the Holy Spirit. In accusing Jesus of driving out demons by the power of Satan the scribes were attributing the good works of God to the power of the Devil.

Herein lays the greatest and “everlasting” sin: to deny the power of the Holy Spirit and credit the miracles of God to the power of Evil.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  Acts 1:8