Monday in the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time

Luke 11:14-23

The Kingdom of God Has Come Upon You

There was so much to rejoice over when the Son of God assumed our flesh and became man – there still is.  Here we see Jesus casting out a demon which was mute, so that the man was able to speak.  What a wonderful miracle and gift to this poor man, and to the Jewish community and people as a whole!  Isn’t it obvious that God had visited His people?  Isn’t this a day of rejoicing?  Well, apparently some didn’t think so.  It’s amazing how jealousy can blind people and harden hearts.  Some people looking on that day could take no joy in this man’s newfound ability to speak; instead, they attribute Jesus’ ability to heal, not to God, but of all things, to the devil.

So Jesus now attempts to open the eyes of the blind, that is, help these spiritually blind people to see, which is much harder than opening the eyes of the physically blind.  You see, healing spiritual maladies is harder than healing physical maladies, just as being born again is a greater miracle than being born.  At any rate, Jesus responds to their blasphemous accusations of his being in league with the devil by pointing out the common-sense notion that such an association would be utterly stupid: Why would Satan cast out Satan?  Would not his kingdom fall?  And then, speaking of kingdoms, Jesus announces the wonderful news that, if, instead, it is by the finger of God that he casts out demons, well, then, the kingdom of God has come upon you.  And if that is the case, then I am binding Satan, the “Strong Man,” who has held this poor man captive all these years, and laying his kingdom waste, and introducing the liberty of the sons of God.  And these sons of yours who will soon follow me by saving faith will do even greater things because I go to the Father (John 14:12). Isn’t this a time for rejoicing!

But it wasn’t, and for many, it still isn’t.  Such is man’s blindness when his heart is hardened by sin.  Then Jesus says that “whoever is not with me is against me.”  On another occasion, Jesus said, “The one who is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50).  The context of each saying is different.  Here, people are attributing Jesus’ work to Satan; there, someone whom the disciples did not know was casting out demons in Jesus’ name.  The former saying speaks to man’s sin and the uncompromising call to repentance; the latter to the acceptance of goodwill gestures even if further enlightenment is needed (Acts 18:24-28).  In short, we want to be “gathering” with Jesus, with hearts open to his word, doing kingdom work, binding Satan, and affirming the work of our brothers and sisters on our Lord’s behalf.  The kingdom of God is upon us (Luke 17:21); let us rejoice and be glad!

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