First let a little love find entrance into their hearts, and the rest will follow. - St. Philip Neri
Gospel text (Lk 11,14-23):
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute,
and when the demon had gone out,
the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed.
Some of them said, "By the power of Beelzebub, 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 Beelzebub that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebub,
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."
Jesus heals the deaf man. The first sounds the man heard were the cries of those demanding reasons. Who has the authority to drive out demons? Surely Jesus must be a demon too. Faced with doubts, Jesus did not slip into silence. Use your senses, he told his critics. What do you see? Would a friend of demons heal a damaged body? Jesus reached out to his accusers. But twisted thinking can be hard to mend.
We are a vulnerable and resilient people; there is much we do not grasp and often the only voice we hear is our own.
Perhaps demons of a sort still move among us. Certainly we come up against powers that invade and possess us. There are spirits of mistrust that splinter our communities. There is arrogance that leaves those in power unmoved by human cries. There is the emptiness that spreads outward from our dedication to making ever more money. There is forgetting the poor, so we forget where true beauty lies.
Throughout all this, God is always faithful. We are not abandoned to emptiness and divisions. God doesn’t forget us. When our house grows quiet, healing words are spoken still. It is our job to listen to them and respond.