Homilette for Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(Luke 11:15-26)

Every election cycle candidates court the people’s favor by distributing T-shirts and, if they are incumbents, putting “sweeteners” in legislation. Like the crowd in the gospel wondering if Jesus casts out demons because he is in league with Beelzebub, the voters should question such freebies.

Jesus knows the thoughts of the people and tries to calm their anxieties. First, he uses logic. Beelzebub would be working against himself, he says, if he cast out demons. It would as foolish as cutting off your nose to spite your face. Then Jesus makes a comparison. He casts out demons no differently than local healers. If they suspect him, should they not also question the motives of the village exorcist? Finally, Jesus proposes a challenge. They might accept his marvelous deeds as a sign that the Kingdom of God has finally come. “Wouldn’t that be wonderful!” he seems to tell them.

But Jesus does not avoid the fact that the coming of the Kingdom will entail effort on the part of its beneficiaries. People have to convert to its standards of intellectual honesty, moral integrity, and love for all. If not, the vacuum created by the removal of the evil spirit will invite an even more precarious situation. We might think of a household that has exterminated all the mice that inhabited it. Unless protections and safeguards against pests are put in place quickly, mice and perhaps rats are likely to come in force.