Thursday, March 3rd – Stephen Rappold
Gospel: LK 11:14-23
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute,
and when the demon had gone out,
the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed.
Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons.”
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself,
how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
Perhaps this passage calls forth in our memories the old expression, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” Many times reading these passages I have to fight off an irresistible urge to shake someone in the crowd around Jesus and yell, “Seriously?! A deaf man just had his hearing restored and your first reaction was asking about where his power comes from?” Shouldn’t the initial reaction be, “Wow! Somebody who was deaf can hear again! That’s amazing!”
Sadly, the Gospels are filled with stories of miraculous stories of healing that are immediately discounted by a skeptical crowd. It is possible that the Gospels use these stories to call attention to a particular deficiency in human nature, for as the Gospels say, Jesus Himself knew human nature well. We humans are so tainted by sin that in many cases we can no longer look at something good without trying to find evil in it. I remember reading an article about how a well known author named Christopher Hitchens took Mother Teresa to task in a television interview for the way she ran her Home for the Dying in India. Was Mother Teresa perfect? Of course not. However, what is the point of missing the beauty of a portrait in order to criticize the brushstrokes?
We know things by their fruits. A tree that produces good fruit is a good tree. One thing that I lament about Christianity is the fact that many people have created an incorrect ideal of a Christian lifestyle. Christianity is not about waiting this world out in order to get to the next one. Christianity is not about guarding ourselves from other people and locking ourselves in our own bubbles of security. Christianity is communitarian, not individualistic. It is about wonder, joy, and amazement. With Christianity, there are no boring days because each day is an exciting adventure to draw closer to one another, and through one another to Christ. Christianity is about smiling, laughing often, and allowing ourselves to be in awe of the amazing world God created just for us.During this Lenten season, let us pray for ourselves and for our world. Let us pray that God grants us the ability to overcome our fears, our doubts, and our skepticism of those around us and the ability to see each person as a unique gift that God has placed into our lives. Jesus said that we will not enter heaven unless we become like little children. Therefore, let us recover the gift of childlike joy and build a more innocent world together.
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