Gospel - October 9, 2015
LK 11:15-26

When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven.

But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?

“For you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”
Gospel citations come from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


Reflection - October 9, 2015
Todd Walatka
Assistant Chair for Graduate Studies, Theology

Beelzebul, Satan, the ruler of demons—not the central topic of many homilies today. Yet, the Gospels regularly present Jesus’ preaching and miraculous works as an opposition to the dark forces of the world. In this passage, Jesus frees a man from the power of evil and gives him new life. This gift of life is the work of the Kingdom of God. But rather than being welcomed in the world, the entrance of the Kingdom is met with resistance. And in response to this reality Jesus offers a startling warning: “Whoever is not with me is against me.”

This warning from Jesus reminds me of a challenge from Pope Francis: “We need to distinguish clearly what might be a fruit of the Kingdom from what runs counter to God’s plan. This involves not only recognizing and discerning spirits, but also—and this is decisive—choosing movements of the spirit of good and rejecting those of the spirit of evil.”

What I find so challenging in the Gospel passage and the words of Pope Francis is that discerning the spirit of good seems so difficult. Look at the crowd in the Gospel. They mistake God’s work for the work of Satan! How do I discern what is the fruit of the Kingdom? How do I know if I have chosen the spirit of good?

I do not have a great answer to these questions, but the Gospel passage seems to point in a certain direction. Jesus’s act is one of mercy and it gives life. These are signs of the Kingdom. These are to guide my life.

So when I am faced with decisions in my life, whether as big as choosing my career or which school to send my children to, or as small as how to react to a less-than-nice email or my kids fighting over the stapler, I try to look at what I can do that shows mercy and gives life.

Yet it is difficult to be merciful and life-giving. Sometimes I am weak and I fail; sometimes I act mercifully and I am rejected or misunderstood. But the Gospel also gives hope and comfort here: Beelzebul, Satan, the ruler of demons is not victorious. Jesus says, “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33)!


Prayer - October 9, 2015
God our Father, you are a faithful protector and watchful guardian. We ask for your providing care for our brothers and sisters in South Carolina who are suffering from the effects of flooding. Comfort those who are suffering, strengthen those who are helping, and keep us all safe in your love. We ask this through your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The green candle in the Grotto will carry our prayers for the people of South Carolina this week.


Blessed John Henry Newman, your legacy includes campus ministries and Newman clubs around the world--pray for us!