Monday - Ordinary Time
1) Opening prayer
All-powerful and ever-living God,
direct your love that is within us,
that our efforts in the name of your Son
may bring mankind to unity and peace.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 3,22-30
The scribes who
had come down from Jerusalem were saying, 'Beelzebul is in him,' and, 'It is
through the prince of devils that he drives devils out.'
So he called
them to him and spoke to them in parables, 'How can Satan drive out Satan? If a
kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot last. And if a household
is divided against itself, that household can never last. Now if Satan has
rebelled against himself and is divided, he cannot last either -- it is the end
of him. But no one can make his way into a strong man's house and plunder his
property unless he has first tied up the strong man. Only then can he plunder
his house. 'In truth I tell you, all human sins will be forgiven, and all the
blasphemies ever uttered; but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin.' This was because they
were saying, 'There is an unclean spirit in him.'
• The conflict
grows. In the Gospel of Mark
there is a progressive sequence. In the measure in which the Good News advances
and people accept it, in the same measure grows also the resistance on the part
of the religious authority. The conflict began to grow and to influence all the
groups of persons. For example, the relatives of Jesus thought that he was out
of his mind. (Mk 3, 20-21), and the Scribes who had come from Jerusalem thought
that he was possessed, that Beelzebul was in him (Mk 3, 22).
• The conflict with the authority. The
Scribes slandered against him. They said that Beelzebul was in him and that it
was through the prince of devils that he drove out the devils. They had come
from Jerusalem, about 120 kilometres distance, to keep an eye on or watch
Jesus’ behaviour. They wanted to defend tradition against the novelty that
Jesus taught to the people (Mk 7, 1). They thought that his teaching was
against the good doctrine. The response given by Jesus had three parts.
- First Part: The comparison with a
divided family. Jesus uses the comparison of the divided family and of the
divided kingdom to denounce the absurdity of the slander. To say that Jesus
casts out or drives out the devils with the help of the prince of the devils is
to deny the evidence, what is evident. It is like saying that water is dry, and
that the sun is darkness. The doctors of Jerusalem slandered, because they did
not know how to explain the benefits worked by Jesus in behalf of the people. They
were afraid to lose their leadership.
- Second Part: The comparison of the
strong man. Jesus compares the devil to a strong man. Nobody, unless he is
a strong person, will be able to take away the house from a strong man, to rob
it. Jesus is the strongest of all. And this is why he succeeds to enter the
house and to dominate and overcome the strong man. He succeeds in driving out
the devils. Jesus wins over the strong man and robs his house, that is, he
liberates the persons who were under the power of the evil one. The Prophet
Isaiah had already used the same comparison to describe the coming of the
Messiah (Is 49, 24-25). Luke adds that the expulsion of the devil is an evident
sign of the coming of the Kingdom (Lk 11, 20).
- Third part: The sin against the Holy Spirit. All sins are forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Spirit. Which
is the sin against the Holy Spirit? It is to say: “The spirit which impels
Jesus to cast out or drive out the devil, comes precisely from the devil!” The
one who speaks in this way is incapable to receive pardon. Why? Can the one who
covers his eyes guess? He cannot! The one who closes his mouth, can he eat? He
cannot. The one who does not close the umbrella of slander, can he receive the
rain of pardon? He cannot! Pardon would pass by his side but would not reach
him. It is not that God does not want to forgive. God always wants to forgive. But
it is the sinner who refuses to receive pardon!
4) Personal questions
• The religious authorities close themselves up in
themselves and deny the evidence. Has this ever happened to me, that I close
myself in self before the evidence of facts?
• Slander is the arm or weapon of the weak. Have
you had experience on this point?
5) Concluding prayer
The whole wide
world has seen the saving power of our God.
all the earth,
shouts of joy! (Ps 98,3-4)