Jesus is headed to Jerusalem and the cross but on his journey people are watching his actions and debating what his power source is. Jesus drives a mute spirit out of a man and the man can then speak. The people reason that if Jesus is able to drive out spirits because he has the power of Beelzebul, prince of demons, then perhaps he can make signs appear from heaven. Where does his power come from? We know that debate today as rulers fight.
Jesus points out that if Satan drives out demons by the power of Satan then Satan is dividing his house, and that house will fall. Division implies disunity and leads to defeat. That is different than diversity that implies different ways and different talents to reach a common goal with common values. Jesus continues on to say that the defeated, humiliated demon will find seven friends and returns for another battle and possession. Defeat through war and humiliation can only lead to disaster. Here we see the difference between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of this world. God does not rule by bringing divisions. God woes us to agreement and mutual support in the midst of our differences. God uses love and unity. Consequences come because of our choices, not his power.
Perhaps Jesus would say that the real important question is what fills the houses of our lives? Refusing evil needs to be followed by choosing God and filling our hearts with his wisdom. Often we look at the less fortunate and pat ourselves on the back that at least we are not like them. Being slightly in debt may indeed be better than being deeply in debt but it is not the same as being friends with the owner of the bank who will lend you whatever you need. It doesn’t always seem that easy in the midst of the fray, choices never are. So let us reflect on what we are filling our hearts with today. Are we filling our lives with fluff and noise, not necessarily evil but not necessarily character building either? But likewise we must realize that in our own strength, we cannot fight off evil. It is only our relationship with Jesus that gives us strength. What disciplines do we have that give us strength to confront evil and how can we strengthen them during this lenten journey?