Yet some of them said, “He drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons.” Others wanted to put him to the test, by asking him for a heavenly sign.
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, “Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin, and will fall. If Satan also is divided, his empire is coming to an end. How can you say that I drive out demons by calling upon Beelzebul? If I drive them out by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive out demons? They will be your judges, then.
But if I drive out demons by the finger of God; would not this mean that the kingdom of God has come upon you? As long as a man, strong and well armed, guards his house, his goods are safe. But when a stronger man attacks and overcomes him, the challenger takes away all the weapons he relied on, and disposes of his spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me, scatters. When the evil spirit goes out of a person, it wanders through dry lands, looking for a resting place; and finding none, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds the house swept and everything in order. Then it goes to fetch seven other spirits, even worse than itself. They move in and settle there, so that the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
Jesus drove out a demon of a dumb person. Then the mute person spoke and the people were amazed. At this moment the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law accused Jesus of involvement with Satan. The Lord then delivered this deep teaching about demons.
First, he gives a logic argument: the devil cannot struggle against the devil. A civil war is the beginning of a total decay. All the more, some Jews are doing exorcisms in the name of Jesus, but above all, Jesus himself is the “stronger” warrior that overcomes evil spirit, takes away his weapons and disposes of his spoils. His death and resurrection have this very meaning. He is “the finger of God,” his powerful arm, that shows the presence of the Kingdom. All our confidence is there. Since our baptism, we have been gathered with Jesus.
Nevertheless, we must be faithful. Otherwise, the jealousy of the demon will try to assail anew his old possession. Insofar as our faith in Jesus is steadfast, our victory is assured: “You will have trouble in the world; but, courage! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).
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