Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(Galatians 3:7-14; Luke 11:15-26)

In every election cycle candidates court the people’s favor by distributing T-shirts and, if they are incumbents, finagling legislation that gives constituents unlikely benefits. 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.

Knowing the suspicions of the people, Jesus tries to calm their anxieties in different ways. First, he uses logic. Beelzebub would be working against himself, he says, if he cast out demons. It would be 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 background 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 intimates.

But Jesus does not avoid the fact that the coming of the Kingdom will entail a response on the part of its beneficiaries. People have to convert to its standards of justice, compassion, and peace. If not, the vacuum created by the removal of the evil spirit will invite an even more pernicious presence. We might think of a household that has exterminated all the mice that inhabited it. Unless safeguards against pests are put in place quickly, rats may come in force.