Meanwhile the teachers of the Law, who had come from Jerusalem, said, “He is in the power of Beelzebul: the chief of the demons helps him to drive out demons.”
Jesus called them to him, and began teaching them by means of stories, or parables. “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a nation is divided by civil war, that nation cannot stand. If a family divides itself into groups, that family will not survive. In the same way, if Satan has risen against himself and is divided, he will not stand; he is finished. No one can break into the house of a strong man in order to plunder his goods, unless he first ties up the strong man. Then indeed, he can plunder his house.
Truly, I say to you, every sin will be forgiven humankind, even insults to God, however numerous. But whoever slanders the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven: he carries the guilt of his sin forever.” This was their sin when they said, “He has an unclean spirit in him.”
The reality of evil has always confounded humanity. In biblical times any illness, disease or imperfection is attributed to the evil spirits. Their presence strikes fear in people’s hearts. Yet, the evil spirit is known to disguise itself so as not to frighten or repel us. It hides itself in our needs and wants and in our flaws and shadows, presenting itself to us as something desirable or acceptable in our moments of weakness and confusion. The teachers of the Law in their close-mindedness did not realize that they were the ones, and not Jesus, who were indeed influenced by the power of evil that clouded their judgment of Jesus. Jesus’ refutation of them speaks directly to us today: how can individuals and communities divided against themselves stand? Too often we tear one another down in order to build ourselves up. We give in to pressure to be number one, but sometimes disregarding others who stand in our path to the top. Jesus challenges us to recognize the power of the Holy Spirit that builds up individuals and communities, binding up their wounds that cause division. If we are divided, then we cannot grow together as part of God’s family.
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