Fr. Mike’s Homily for Friday of the 27th week in Ordinary Time Cycle I
Theme: Every kingdom divided against itself will not stand
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches
Homily for Friday October 8 2021
Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that [I] drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that person is worse than the first.”
Lucifer was one of the illustrious angels in heaven. But when the angelic spirits were put to test, he opted to disobey God: “Non serviam!” I will not serve! In his pride he thought he can overpower God. But, obviously he was wrong. How can a creature fight against the Creator? There is no match whatsoever. So, he decided to fight against men, the children of God. Of course, mortal men are helpless against a powerful angel. And Lucifer thought the victory is his for the taking. But he was wrong again. This is because, through the Incarnation, God became man, and that ‘stronger Man’ defeated him and his cohorts on the cross.
This is the background of today’s Gospel. Jesus shows His absolute power over all unclean spirits. He proves to be the ‘stronger man’ who easily overpowers the evil spirits. The people are completely amazed at this sight, and they praised God. But others are not convinced and impressed. They still persist on asking for a sign. Worse than this, the scribes and Pharisees, even accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons.
In his response, Jesus shows the absurdity of their accusation: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” And He turns the table on them by asking, “If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out?”
He, then , reminds His listeners that the signs He is doing, especially driving out demons, is a concrete sign that the power of God is at work in their midst: “But if it is by the finger of God that [I] drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus, indeed, is the personification and embodiment of the Kingdom of God.
In this spiritual battle that is raging on, there is no neutral ground: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” We have to choose on which side we belong: either for or against Christ. Not to choose, on the pretext of being neutral, is itself a choice – against Him. Venerable Fulton Sheen said, “The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.”
We may be surprised to know how many are those who claim to be Christians but are actually on the side of the enemy. On the other hand, there are those who do not belong to the Church, but they are for Christ. We may recall an incident in the Gospel where a man was casting out demons in the name of Christ. The disciples tried to stop him because he does not belong to the group. But Jesus told them: “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” (Lk 9:50).
Choosing for Christ entails a new and stronger commitment to live His teachings and values. It is not enough to be liberated from an evil spirit. The devil loves a vacuum. When possessed person is freed from the evil spirit, he must make sure that his soul is filled with the Spirit of Jesus. Otherwise, the evil spirit can come back “to find the house swept clean and put in order” and bring more wicked spirits with it. The end result is that the person’s situation is even worse than before.
We are at war! But it is certainly a one-sided war: the enemy has no chance. Jesus always wins. There is nothing to be afraid of, as long as we are with Him. Let us, therefore, hold on to Him, and make sure we are always on His side. Pope St. John Paul II gives these words of inspiration: “There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us.”
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches