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Gospel for Monday,

January 23, 2017

Monday of the Third week in Ordinary Time

 

Jesus frees us from Satan’s power

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to

Saint Mark 3:22-30
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”
Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.
Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”
For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

 

Reflection:

When danger lurks what kind of protection do you seek? Jesus came to free us from the greatest danger of all – the corrupting force of evil which destroys us from within and makes us slaves to sin and Satan (John 8:34). Evil is not an impersonal force that just happens. It has a name and a face and it seeks to master every heart and soul on the face of the earth (1 Peter 5:8-9). Scripture identifies the Evil One by many names, ‘Satan’, ‘Beelzebul – the prince of demons’, the ‘Devil’, the ‘Deceiver’, the ‘Father of Lies’, and ‘Lucifier’, the fallen angel who broke rank with God and established his own army and kingdom in opposition to God.

Jesus declared that he came to overthrow the power of Satan and his kingdom (John 12:31). Jesus’ numerous exorcisms brought freedom to many who were troubled and oppressed by the work of evil spirits. Jesus himself encountered personal opposition and battle with Satan when he was put to the test in the wilderness just before his public ministry (Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1). He overcame the Evil One through his obedience to the will of his Father.

Some of the Jewish leaders reacted vehemently to Jesus’ healings and exorcisms and they opposed him with malicious slander. How could Jesus get the power and authority to release individuals from Satan’s influence and control? They assumed that he had to be in league with Satan. They attributed his power to Satan rather than to God. Jesus asserts that no kingdom divided against itself can survive for long. We have witnessed enough civil wars in our own time to prove the destructive force at work here for the annihilation of whole peoples and their land. If Satan lends his power against his own forces then he is finished. Cyril of Alexandria, a 5th century church father explains the force of Jesus’ argument:

Kingdoms are established by the fidelity of subjects and the obedience of those under the royal scepter. Houses are established when those who belong to them in no way whatsoever thwart one another but, on the contrary, agree in will and deed. I suppose it would establish the kingdom too of Beelzebub, had he determined to abstain from everything contrary to himself. How then does Satan cast out Satan? It follows then that devils do not depart from people on their own accord but retire unwillingly. “Satan,” he says, “does not fight with himself.” He does not rebuke his own servants. He does not permit himself to injure his own armor bearers. On the contrary, he helps his kingdom. “It remains for you to understand that I crush Satan by divine power.”

Jesus asserted his authority to cast out demons as a clear demonstration of the reign of God. God’s power is clearly at work in the exorcisms which Jesus performed and they give evidence that God’s kingdom has come.

What kind of spiritual danger or harm should we avoid at all costs? Jesus used the illustration of a strong man whose house and possessions were kept secure. How could such a person be overtaken and robbed of his goods except by someone who is stronger than himself? Satan, who is our foe and the arch-enemy of God, is stronger than us. Unless we are clothed in God’s strength, we cannot withstand Satan with our own human strength. What does Satan wish to take from us – our faith and confidence in God and our readiness to follow God’s commandments. Satan is a rebel and a liar. Satan can only have power or dominion over us if we listen to his lies and succumb to his will which is contrary to the will of God. Jesus makes it clear that there are no neutral parties in this world. We are either for Jesus or against him, for the kingdom of God or opposed to it.

There are ultimately only two kingdoms in opposition to one another – the kingdom of God’s light and truth and the kingdom of darkness and deception under the rule of Satan. If we disobey God’s word, we open the door to the power of sin and Satan’s influence in our lives. If we want to live in true freedom from the power of sin and Satan, then our “house” – our mind and heart and whatever we allow to control our appetites and desires – must be occupied and ruled by Jesus Christ where he is enthroned as Lord and Savior. Do you know the peace and security of a life submitted to God and to his Word?

What is the unforgivable sin which Jesus warns us to avoid? Jesus knows that his disciples will be tested and he assures them that the Holy Spirit will give them whatever grace and help they need in their time of adversity. He warns them, however, that it’s possible to spurn the grace of God and to fall into apostasy (giving up the faith) out of cowardice or disbelief. Why is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit reprehensible? Blasphemy consists in uttering against God, inwardly or outwardly, words of hatred, reproach, or defiance. It’s contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. Jesus speaks of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit as the unforgivable sin.

Jesus spoke about this sin immediately after the scribes and Pharisees had attributed his miracles to the work of the devil instead of to God. A sin can only be unforgivable if repentance is impossible. If people repeatedly closes their eyes to God, shuts their ears to his voice, and reject his word, they bring themselves to a point where they can no longer recognize God when he can be seen and heard. They become spiritually blind-sighted and speak of “evil as good and good as evil” (Isaiah 5:20).

To fear such a state of sin and spiritual blindness, however, signals that one is not dead to God and is conscious of the need for God’s grace, mercy, and help. There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who refuses to acknowledge and confess their sins and to ask God for forgiveness, spurns God’s generous offer of mercy, pardon, grace, and healing. Through their own stubborn pride and willfulness, they reject God, refuse his grace and help to turn away from sin, and reject the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to heal and restore them to wholeness. God always gives sufficient grace and help to all who humbly call upon him. Giving up on God and refusing to turn away from sin and disbelief results from pride and the loss of hope in God.

What is the basis of our hope and confidence in God? Through Jesus’ death on the cross and his victory over the grave when he rose again on the third day, Satan has been defeated and death has been overcome. We now share in Christ’s victory over sin and Satan and receive adoption as God’s sons and daughters. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord enables us to live a new life of love and freedom from slavery to sin. The Lord Jesus is our refuge and strength because he makes his home with us (John 15:4) and gives us the power and help of the Holy Spirit. Do you take refuge in the Lord and allow him to be the Ruler of your life?

 

Introductory Prayer:

Lord, I believe that you are the source of all goodness. I know that your goodness is both a challenge and a promise. I trust that your goodness will envelop me if I allow myself to be found by you. I love you for wanting to fight the battle against evil for my sake.
 
Petition:

Lord, help me not to be afraid of the battle against evil.
 
1. Not Indifferent: With Jesus on earth, another world becomes evident around us: the world of evil spirits. Jesus has come to take control of the kingdom. The devils are in a panic and begin to lose ground. Jesus is a threat to evil. His goodness, truth and holiness are capable of putting the devils into submission. When Christ takes a stronger hold on my life, things begin to change. Do I let Christ challenge evil in my heart? In the world around me?
 
2. Not One of Them  Jesus brings change: But change is not evil per se. The change that Jesus brings is good, since he comes to put demons in their place, bringing about good. This awakening of the good worries the devil. The conquest over evil is not always done in peace and tranquility. Does the spiritual opposition I face as I try to overcome evil in my life cause me to hesitate in the fight or to wish that Jesus and his teachings would not be so demanding? Do I realize that facing difficulties is a sign of growth in Christian authenticity? Do I let the goodness of Christ radically define my life? Even in the face of opposition?
 
3. Only Good: Think of the joy that people experienced when Jesus freed them from the power of the Evil One. Think of the joy we feel after making a good confession, attending a good retreat or progressing in virtue. Jesus comes into our life to bring the joy of freedom from evil. He is God’s goodness made flesh. Do I rejoice to have Christ as my friend? Do I try to listen to his teachings with a willing heart, thankful for the chance I have to abide in God’s heart by living the life of grace? What an amazing friend I have! I can trust in his power to lead me along the path of life.
 
Conversation with Christ:

Christ, I know that you are more powerful than evil. Help me to face up to evil in my life, encouraged by your friendship and strength. In your name Lord, I will walk with confidence.
 
Resolution:

I will do something to share my faith with others today.

 

Prayer:

“Lord Jesus, you are my hope and salvation. Be the ruler of my heart and the master of my home. May there be nothing in my life that is not under your lordship.”

Evangelio del lunes,

23 de enero, 2017

Lunes de la tercera semana del tiempo ordinario

 

Un reino no puede estar dividido

Del santo Evangelio según

San Marcos 3, 22-30
Los escribas que habían bajado de Jerusalén decían: «Está poseído por Beelzebul» y «por el príncipe de los demonios expulsa los demonios». El, llamándoles junto a sí, les decía en parábolas: «¿Cómo puede Satanás expulsar a Satanás? Si un reino está dividido contra sí mismo, ese reino no puede subsistir. Si una casa está dividida contra sí misma, esa casa no podrá subsistir. Y si Satanás se ha alzado contra sí mismo y está dividido, no puede subsistir, pues ha llegado su fin. Pero nadie puede entrar en la casa del fuerte y saquear su ajuar, si no ata primero al fuerte; entonces podrá saquear su casa. Yo os aseguro que se perdonará todo a los hijos de los hombres, los pecados y las blasfemias, por muchas que éstas sean. Pero el que blasfeme contra el Espíritu Santo, no tendrá perdón nunca, antes bien, será reo de pecado eterno». Es que decían: «Está poseído por un espíritu inmundo».

Palabra del Señor
 

Oración introductoria

Gracias, Padre mío, por recordarme la importancia de la unidad. Tú conoces mis limitaciones y mis miserias y sabes cuánto falta me hace tu gracia para crecer en el amor y ser factor de unidad en todas mis relaciones familiares y sociales. Concédeme tu luz en esta oración para que sea la caridad la que me mueva siempre a buscar la unión contigo y con los demás.

 

Petición
Jesús, ayúdame a conocer, vivir y transmitir tu amor.
 
Meditación del Papa
La búsqueda del restablecimiento de la unidad entre los cristianos divididos no puede reducirse por tanto a un reconocimiento de las diferencias recíprocas y a la consecución de una convivencia pacífica: lo que anhelamos es esa unidad por la que Cristo mismo rezó y que por su naturaleza se manifiesta en la comunión de la fe, de los sacramentos, del ministerio. El camino hacia esta unidad debe ser advertido como imperativo moral, respuesta a una llamada precisa del Señor. Por esto es necesario vencer la tentación de la resignación y del pesimismo, que es falta de confianza en el poder del Espíritu Santo. Nuestro deber es proseguir con pasión el camino hacia esta meta con un diálogo serio y riguroso para profundizar en el común patrimonio teológico, litúrgico y espiritual; con el conocimiento recíproco; con la formación ecuménica de las nuevas generaciones y, sobre todo, con la conversión del corazón y con la oración. Hay una diferencia entre cantidad y plenitud. Tú puedes tener tanto dinero, pero ser una persona vacía. No hay plenitud en tu corazón. Pensad esta semana en la diferencia que hay entre cantidad y plenitud. No es cosa de billetera, sino de corazón. Hay diferencia entre billetera y corazón… Hay enfermedades cardíacas que hacen que el corazón se baje hasta la billetera… ¡Y esto no va bien! Amar a Dios “con todo el corazón” significa confiar en Él, en su providencia, y servirlo en los hermanos más pobres, sin esperar nada a cambio.  (S.S. Francisco)
 
Reflexión
“Un reino dividido no puede subsistir” Si una persona está haciendo dos cosas está dividida. Esto porque si se tienen dos pensamientos y se desea concluir cada uno al mismo tiempo se crearía un problema serio.
He visto esta división en muchos lugares. Veamos un partido de fútbol: si el portero hace lo que le da la gana, no ganarán; si los delanteros van por su lado, la defensa está cansada y el director técnico está enojado con todos, ese equipo es un verdadero desastre.
Pasa lo mismo en la vida interior. El hombre que está continuamente dividido, pensando en sí mismo, diciendo una cosa y haciendo otra, es un verdadero desastre. No se puede vivir feliz así.
La felicidad en la vida se encuentra en Jesucristo, y en hacer siempre aquello que él quiere de cada uno de nosotros. Por lo tanto hay que ser hombres de una sola pieza para no destruirnos al igual que el reino dividido.
 
Propósito
Reconciliar a todos los cristianos en la unidad de una sola y única Iglesia de Cristo, supera las fuerzas y las capacidades humanas, por eso hoy haré una oración por la unidad.
 

Diálogo con Cristo

Una iglesia dividida, como cualquier familia, no puede subsistir. La persona misma, dividida interiormente, tampoco puede subsistir. El pecado, particularmente aquel que hiere la caridad, causa división. Los primeros cristianos me dan ejemplo clarísimo de cómo vivir la unidad. Ellos superaron las barreras sociales, económicas y culturales. Rezaban por los demás y se animaban unos a otros a perseverar en la fe en Jesucristo. Ayúdame, Señor, a vivir así la caridad, no permitas que hiera nunca la unidad. Que todas mis palabras y acciones sean para construir la caridad.

 

Despedida

Te damos gracias, Señor, por todos tus beneficios, a Ti que vives y reinas por los siglos de los siglos. Amén.

¡Cristo, Rey nuestro! ¡Venga tu Reino!

Virgen prudentísima, María, Madre de la Iglesia. Ruega por nosotros.

En el nombre del Padre y del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo. Amén.