March 23, 2017
Gospel 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 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."
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”(Lk 11:23)
Lack of knowledge about Jesus, preconceived ideas about Jesus, strictness to tradition, fear, and lack of acceptance of Jesus are some of the main reasons that made Jewish people, especially Jewish leaders, to not believe in Jesus or to dialogue with him. To say Jesus casts out demons through Beelzebul is to doubt the power of Jesus, is to deny evidence. Jesus strongly denounces this kind of absurdity, and ends his response to his accusers with these remarks: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Preconceptions, lack of humility, denial or rejection of the truth, mistrust, fear, stubbornness, are against Christian values; and they are a major hindrance towards dialogue and reconciliation. We are always called to go beyond our self or preconceptions. So, one cannot say he or she is with Jesus if he or she is not open to change, open to new ideas, or open to new ways.
Lord, guide me, teach me, strengthen me, ‘till I become such a person as thou would have me be; pure and gentle, truthful and high minded, brave and able, courteous and generous, dutiful and useful. Amen
(Prayer for Guidance, Charles Kingsley 1819-75)
Reflection by Sch. Kimario Africanus, SJ, a Jesuit from the Eastern Africa Province. Sch. Kimario is currently in his Regency at St. Peter Claver Ecological Centre, Dodoma, Tanzania, where he is the Operations Manager.