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Jesus and Beelzebul


Gospel reading: Lk 11:15-26


WHEN Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd 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.”


REFLECTION: A sign from heaven

As Simeon prophesied, Jesus, the Son of Mary, is “a sign that will be contradicted” (Lk 2:34). During his public ministry, Jesus drives out demons “by the finger of God,” a sign that the Kingdom of God has come upon the people. Some in the crowd are astonished with what he does, but there are detractors who charge him with collu­sion with Beelzebul. Beelzebul derives from the Canaanite deity Baal, but Luke uses it simply as a synonym for Satan. Those who react with hostility towards Jesus “test” him, asking for a sign from heaven. “Testing” Jesus is what the devil did early in Jesus’ public ministry (cf Lk 4:2).

Jesus refuses the demands of his de­tractors. They have so closed their minds against him that no miracle can open it. Jesus, moreover, does mighty deeds to answer people’s needs, both physical and spiritual, and not to dazzle people, gain honor for himself, or take the easy way in saving humankind.

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When you pray, do you make “demands” of God?

Begin your supplication with, “Lord, if it is your will…”

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