“Divided against itself… cannot stand”
This phrase truly has had some memorable uses—whether here in Jesus’ parables, Lincoln’s famous argument against the division in the United States over slavery, or (in a personal favorite) by George Costanza in an episode of Seinfeld. After some reflection, I realized that what spoke to me throughout this reading, specifically from that phrase, is the idea of a foundation upon which something is built.
Jesus first asks how a kingdom or a house can stand if it is divided upon itself. If there exists internal division, the foundation of this kingdom or house must be irresolute and will surely crumble unless repaired. Similarly, in the strong man who protects and guards his house, we see a human example of a foundation. If the foundation that supports and protects this home is removed, the house will quickly be ransacked and ruined.
Finally, Jesus comes to his most important point for those who would bring claims against him. Jesus specifies that all sins (including blasphemies) will be forgiven, except those blasphemies against the Holy Spirit. We see here that after discussing material and human foundations for the benefit of his listeners’ understanding, Jesus identifies a spiritual foundation. The Holy Spirit exists as the foundation of our faith, supporting us, even though we may be unaware of it, in the darkest of times. Jesus is reminding us that by cursing the Holy Spirit, we are weakening the very foundation of our souls.
Too often I find that, for myself, the period between the joy of Christmas and the reflection of Lent is a time of spiritual restfulness and relaxation. Please join me in using today’s Gospel as a reminder of the importance of our faith foundation—we should be excited about being given the opportunity to strengthen it on a daily basis.
Matthew Peterson ‘11
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