Now he was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. But some of them 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s Gospel offers a good “check-up” for our hearts. I may outwardly be “with Jesus” in my exterior actions—praying, giving alms, observing Lenten penances. But I can do these things without being “with him” in my heart. If my heart is not fully turned toward God at each moment, I am “against him,” not able to “gather” with him, and in fact may be “scattering” those he is calling back to him.
What does it mean that God gathers, and that we gather with him? I think Jesus names it in his reference to the “finger of God.” The finger of God points out the path, touches and heals us in our most painful wounds, encourages and unites, and thereby gathers us close to his heart. When we do something “by the finger of God,” we point out the path to God, heal, encourage, and unite those around us. We gather them back to the heart of Jesus. We cannot do this if we are not first gathered, fully turned toward God in the depths of our being, allowing him to touch every part of us. Are you with Jesus, or against him?
—Rachel Fitzgibbon serves as Retreat Coordinator at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, Barrington IL.
Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of yours. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus! Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others; the light, O Jesus, will be all from you; none of it will be mine: it will be you shining on others through me. Let me thus praise you in the way you love best: by shining on those around me. Let me preach you without preaching, not by words, but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to you.
—“Radiating Christ,” John Henry Cardinal NewmanPlease share the Good Word with your friends!