Friday, October 12, 2018

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.   If they are incumbents, they finagle legislation that gives voters more incentives to vote for them.  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 assuage their doubts in different ways.  First, he uses logic.  Beelzebub would be working against himself, he says, if he were casting out demons in his name.  Then Jesus tries to convince the people of his innocence with a comparison.  He casts out demons no differently than local healers.  If they suspect him of being in league with the devil, should they not also question the validity of the village exorcist?  Finally, Jesus proposes a challenge.  They should accept his marvelous deeds – he tells them - 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 been exterminated of mice.  But unless safeguards against pests are put in place quickly, rats will invade the house in force.