Electronic Prayer Book

Third Sunday of Lent

 

St Luke 11: 14 – 28

If I cast out devils by the finger of God,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. Every victory over the devil is
an extension of the Kingdom of God; that is true both in our lives, and all around us.

At that time, Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb; and when He had cast out the devil, the dumb man spoke. And the crowds marvelled. But some of them said, “By Beelzebub, the prince of devils, He casts out devils”. And others, to test Him, demanded from Him a sign from heaven. But He, seeing their thoughts, said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and house will fall upon house. If, then, Satan also is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say that I cast out devils by Beelzebub. Now, if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the finger of God then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When the strong man, fully armed, guards his courtyard, his property is undisturbed. But if a stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he will take away all his weapons that he relied upon, and will; divide his spoils. He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he roams through waterless places in search of rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house which I left’. And when he has come to it he finds the place swept. The he goes and takes seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man is become worse than the first”. Now it came top pass as He was saying these things, that a certain woman from the crowd lifted up her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts that nursed You”. But He said, “Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it”.

Explanation

Q.        What is to be said of this man possessed by the devil and unable to speak?

A.         From the context of the other Gospels we learn that this unfortunate man was not only unable to speak but also blind, and that his condition was not the result of sickness but the work of the devil by whom he was possessed. St. Jerome, speaking of this man’s recovery, says that three miracles were worked in him. The blind was made to see, the speechless to speak, and the possessed delivered from the power of the devil.

 

Q.        Of whom is this man a figure?

A.         He is a figure of the human race, which, being a victim of the demon, like a blind man cannot see its own misery nor the infamy of its morals, nor the light of truth, nor its duties, nor God.  And like a speechless man, it cannot utter a word in praise of the divine majesty, or a word in behalf of its own welfare. In a more particular sense, this man was a figure of those sinners who, blinded by their passions, cannot see things pertaining to God or to their own souls, and being mute in matters of religion, they open not their lips to confess their sins, to praise God, or to implore His mercy. Let us pray God that He may not permit us to become blind and speechless like so many unfortunate brethren.

 

Q.        What are we to think of those who said that Christ healed the mute man by the power of the devil?

A.         We must not be astonished at this. They were always influenced by envy and hatred, and saw nothing but evil in the most innocent and holy actions. Let us bring the matter home to ourselves and consider how we judge our neighbors. If we find that we are inclined to interpret their actions in a good sense let us rejoice, for it is a sign that we have Christian charity in our hearts. But if we discover in us a disposition to find fault with our neighbour’s actions, or to attribute bad motives to them, we may know that it is hatred and envy that inspire us, and we should pray God to free us from such inspirations.

 

Q.        How did Christ refute their calumny?

A.         By the words related in the Gospel Christ proved that it was impossible for the demon to   contend against himself ; that he could not be put to flight except by the power of God, and that if He, Christ, could cast out devils, then the time foretold by the prophets had come — the time when God would reign in men’s hearts by His grace.

 

Q.        Who is that strong man in armour, who guards his house in peace?

A.         This strong man is the devil, who had made himself master of the world by keeping almost the whole human race in bondage through errors of the mind and the power of the passions. As long, as he could keep alive superstition, idolatry, and licentiousness among people, he enjoyed in peace his tyrannical power over them, and they served him and plunged into the mire of corruption, without even knowing the misery and infamy of their condition, and without the desire to escape from it.

 

Q.        And who is the stronger person who comes to take away his armour?

A.         It is Jesus Christ, Who by His doctrine, example, passion, merits, and grace disarms. the devil and overcomes him, destroys his kingdom, encourages us, dissipates the darkness of ignorance, banishes idolatry, and makes children of God those who before had been the slaves of sin and victims of perdition.

 

Q.        What did Christ mean by adding: ” He that is not with Me is against Me. He that gathers not with Me, scatters “?

A.         By these words He gave the Authorities to understand that He did not cast out devils by the power of the devil, as they thought, for it is impossible that those can be in harmony who follow opposite ways and have opposite ends in view. In fact, says St. Jerome, the devil wants men to be the slaves of their passions, and Jesus wants them to control and overcome their passions. The devil teaches idolatry, and Jesus proclaims the knowledge of the one only true God. The devil entices men to sin, and Jesus exhorts them to practise virtue and to be just. How, then, can those agree whose purpose are so opposite?

 

Q.        Is there, then, nothing in those words for us?

A.         There is a great deal. By those words Jesus declares as enemies all those who do not think as He does and who do not agree with Him in every act. He was zealous for the glory of His Father, and in all His words, actions, and sufferings sought nothing but that glory. They therefore, who combat His doctrines, who are indifferent in matters of religion, who work for selfish motives or to gratify their passions, are His enemies and against Him. He, who does not work in the spirit of Christ, with His motives, and in His Company, gains nothing, loses all, and is against Him.

 

Q.        Who is that impure spirit who leaves a house and wanders through, desert places and finds not rest?

A.         It is the demon, who, driven by virtue of penance from the soul of the converted sinner, feels tormented by the desire to return and take possession again, and for this purpose redoubles His temptation, and his rabid desire to regain control of the soul leaves him no peace. Let the repentant sinner be on his guard and never cease to pray for the grace of perseverance. Let him remember that the devil knows well his weak points, and will not cease to attack him there.

 

Q.        What means his return with seven devils worse than himself?

A.         It means that when the sinner, who by God’s grace has been converted and reconciled with his Maker, falls back into sin, his last state is worse than the first; and as relapse in diseases of the body is more dangerous and more difficult to cure than the original disease, so is the relapse of the soul more fatal and difficult to heal.

 

Q.        And the woman who cried out: “Blessed is the womb that bore you,” of whom was she a figure?

A.         She was a figure of the Church, who so highly and justly praises the Blessed Virgin, who bore and nurtured the divine Redeemer, the cause of our salvation. We should enter into the spirit of the Church and bless the Mother of God, and have recourse to her with childlike confidence.

 

Q.        And what does the answer of Jesus signify?

A.         The answer implies that, though great was the happiness of the Blessed Virgin in having given birth to the Redeemer, yet the happiness of those is also very great who hear the word of God and put it in practice, for by so doing they conceive in their heart, in a spiritual manner, that Fountain and Source of all good Which the Mother of God bore in her chaste womb.