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Kaitha Fifth Sunday

Season of Kaitha

KAITHA FIFTH SUNDAY
LUKE 11:14-26
DIVIDED HOUSE WILL BE DESTROYED

INTRODUCTION

The gospel passage we reflect here is from Luke’s travel narrative of Jesus. He teaches on the relevance of our unity with him based on the reactions of the bystanders when he expelled a demon from a mute demoniac. The recovery of the person’s speech impediment amazed the public, who considered the messianic divinity in Jesus. The foes opposed him, blaming that he cast the demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons. Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven. Jesus exposes the absurdity of the opponents and reveals his divinity and the establishment of the kingdom of God. He emphasized the need to cooperate with him for the victory over the evil spirit.

BIBLE TEXT (LUKE 11:14-26)

Jesus and Beelzebul

(Lk:11:14) One day Jesus was driving out a demon that caused dumbness. When the demon had been driven out and the dumb man could speak, the people were amazed. (15) Yet some of them said, “He drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons;” (16) while others wanted to put him to the test by asking him for a sign from heaven. (17) But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin, and a family divided against itself will be destroyed. (18) If Satan is also divided, how long can Satan’s power last? How then can you say that I drive out demons by calling on Beelzebul? (19) And if I drive out demons by relying on Beelzebul, by whose power do your sons drive them out? They therefore refute you. (20) But suppose I drive out demons by the finger of God, would not this mean that the kingdom of God has come upon you? (21) As long as the strong and armed man guards his house, his goods are safe. (22) But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, the challenger takes away all the weapons he relied on and disposes of his spoils. (23) Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me, scatters.

The Return of the Evil Spirit

(Lk 11:24) When the evil spirit goes out of someone, it wanders through dry lands looking for a resting place. And finding none, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ (25) So it returns and finds the house swept and everything in order. (26) Then it goes to fetch seven other spirits even worse than itself, and entering that house settles down in it. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.

INTERPRETATION

Background

Luke wrote the gospel and the Acts of the Apostles addressing Theophilus, a Roman official who engaged in Paul’s trial by Emperor Caesar in Rome. Paul did this, “after investigating everything accurately anew … so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received” (Lk 1:3-4). Paul’s goal was to convince the Romans to acquit Paul, and his readers to receive God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. He structured the gospel with a prologue (1:1–4), the infancy narrative (1:5–2:52), the preparation for the public ministry (3:1–4:13), the ministry in Galilee (4:14–9:50), the journey to Jerusalem (Travel Narrative) (9:51–19:27), the teaching ministry in Jerusalem (19:28–21:38), the passion narrative (22:1–23:56), and the resurrection narrative (24:1–53).

The central section of Luke’s gospel (Lk 9:51-19:27) is the travel narrative of Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem. It starts by saying, “When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Lk 9:51). This section depicts the actions and teachings of Jesus on his way to the Temple. When he drove out demon from the mute demoniac, the public and the Pharisees had different reactions. Jesus affirmed his divinity and invited his listeners to join his kingdom to defend themselves from the snares of the evil.

Jesus and Beelzebul

(Lk:11:14) One day Jesus was driving out a demon that caused dumbness. When the demon had been driven out and the dumb man could speak, the people were amazed.

One day Jesus was driving out a demon that caused dumbness.

Besides Luke, Matthew recounts this incident (Mt 12:22-32) and a similar one earlier (Mt 9:32—34). In both cases, the people brought the demoniac to Jesus. In the second case, the demoniac was blind and mute. He could see and speak after Jesus freed him from the bondage of the demon (Mt 12:22). In both cases, the crowds were amazed at the divine power of Jesus, while the Pharisees said Jesus did it with the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons. Mark 7:32-37 gives a slightly different account of the same.

When the demon had been driven out and the dumb man could speak

The person had been dumb because of his bondage by the demon. When Jesus freed the person from the demon, he restored his ability to speak.

the people were amazed.

The people were amazed because this miraculous healing differed from the exorcists, and they know only the Messiah could do that. According to the Messianic prediction, when he comes, “the eyes of the blind shall see, and the ears of the deaf be opened” (Isa 35:5). So, the people concluded Jesus must be the Messiah. Matthew’s report affirms this. “The crowds were amazed and said, ‘Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel’” (Mt 9:33). “Could this perhaps be the Son of David?” (Mt 12:23).

(15) Yet some of them said, “He drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons;”

Yet some of them said

The ordinary people acknowledged the divinity of Jesus and believed he could be the Messiah. Some bystanders, while acknowledging it as a miracle, accused Jesus of making alliance with Beelzebul, the prince of demons to do it. Though Luke did not specify who were these “some of them,” from Matthew, we understand it was the Pharisees (Mt 9:34; 12:24). However, in Mark, it was “the scribes who had come from Jerusalem” made this remark. They were spies of the Sanhedrin form Jerusalem to investigate the “faults” of Jesus so they could trial him and divert people from his influence.

He drives out demons

The gospels present demon-possession as a common phenomenon. Before the development of scientific clarity on the causes of diseases, people attributed the cause of mysterious disabilities to the evil spirits. They believed in the presence of demons, especially at tombs and desert places. People attributed epilepsy (Mk 9:17-27), mental disorder (Mk 5:1-5) and physical disabilities like dumbness (Mt 9:32-33) and blindness (Mt 12:22) to the demons. When the sick persons were convinced the demons had possessed them, they would produce symptoms of demon-possession. For such people, the cure could happen only when they were convinced that the demon had left them. 

The evangelists used “Unclean spirit” and “Demon” interchangeably in the Gospels to refer to supernatural beings who could enter the life of humans and take control of them (Mt 12:43-45, Mk 5:2-5). The ancient world, including the Jews, believed in the influence of demons. There were different beliefs about their origin. One belief was that they were the fallen angels that existed even before the creation. Another belief was that they were the souls of the wicked people who had died continuing their malicious deeds entering others’ bodies. The demon possessed person spoke as demons. They caused physical or mental disorders in the possessed person. The public considered such an “unclean spirit” possessed person as unclean that implied ritual impurity.

The Catholic teaching is that Satan (devil) and demons were angles created by God. But they became evil by their wrongdoing (CCC 391). These created spirits had rejected God and his reign out of their free choice (CCC 392). The sins of angels were unforgivable, and they had no chance for repentance like there is no chance of penitence for humans after death (CCC 393). However, the influence of Satan and demons will have an end with the second coming of Jesus Christ 

God has allowed the evil spirits to torment the humans only until the last judgement (Enoch 16:1, Jubilees 10:7–10). The demons knew that the appointed time had not arrived. So, they considered they could continue tormenting the humans. However, Jesus, who had power over the evil spirits, expelled the demons from the demoniacs and liberated them from their bondage.

by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons

Beelzebul (Beelzebub or Ba'al-zəbûb) was the god of Ekron (2 Kgs 1:2-3), one of the capital cities of the Philistines. The literal meaning of Baalzebub is “lord of flies,” “lord of dung,” or “lord of filth” and Beelzebul in Aramaic means “lord of the house.” The Greek word Baalzebub is a combination of Baal and zebub. Baal means “lord” and zebub means “exalted dwelling.” Thus, Baalzebub was the prince of demons who dwell in high areas. Baal was a fertility god of the Canaanites in the Old Testament. The Israelites had the temptation to give up belief in their true God and worship the god of Philistines and Canaanites. “They had abandoned the LORD and served Baal and the Astartes” (Judg 2:13).

Since the Beelzebub worshippers believed this god could fly, they portrayed him as a fly. They believed he was a sun god that brings the flies. People in the low-lying cities of the seacoast of Philistia might have worshipped this god to avert the plagues of flies and insects that infected them. The Israelites considered this god as a major demon. The Jews associated Beelzebub also with the Canaanite god Baal. Since worship of such gods was against the true God of Israel, Beelzebub became another name for Satan, the devil, or the prince of demons.

According to demonology, Beelzebub is one of the prominent fallen angels and prince of hell along with other fallen angels like Lucifer (the fallen angel of Light), Leviathan, and Astaroth. Baalzebul is associated with pride, gluttony, and idolatry. By the time of Christ, people used "Beelzebul" to represent the Satan.

By accusing Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the Jewish leaders were blaming Jesus as a person of devil worship or an associate of Satan. They were trying to distract the attention and appreciation of the crowd who were considering Jesus as the Messiah and promote them to see Jesus as an evil person. They acknowledged that only a person of divinity or Satanic influence could cast out the demon in that situation. Jesus, through his argument, told them why that was a ridiculous idea and revealed himself as the Son of God.

(16) while others wanted to put him to the test by asking him for a sign from heaven.

Jesus had already shown signs of his divine power proving his messiahship. At the request of John the Baptist, who was in prison, his disciples asked Jesus, “‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’ At that time he cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits; he also granted sight to many who were blind. And he said to them in reply, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them’” (Lk 7:20-22). Thus, all the miracles of Jesus were proof that he was the Son of God. Driving out the evil spirit from the demoniac was one among such signs. Still, some Jewish leaders insisted Jesus to show them another sign from heaven.

Jesus had already overcome tests from Satan after 40 days of fasting in the desert (Lk 4:1-13). He did not yield to any of the Satan’s demands. The tests from the leaders were like Satan’s test. Their purpose was not out of a sincere desire to believe in Jesus. He did not comply with such requests for miracles to prove his divine identity. When Pilate send Jesus for trial to Herod, he “had been hoping to see him perform some sign” (Lk 23:8). The opponents’ expectation was a sign like the Pillar of Cloud or the Fire of Elijah. However, Jesus refused to comply with their demand because he knew their intention. He wanted the people to get convinced out of his teachings and the signs he performed to help people in need and other divine manifestations like walking on the water (Mt 14:22-33; Mk 6:45-52, Jn 6:16-21), transfiguration (Mt 17:1-8), and his resurrection.

The Pharisees and scribes asked a sign from Jesus several times (Mt 12:38-39; Mt 16:1; Mk 8:11; Lk 11:29). His answer was, “the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights” (Mt 12:39-40). After Jesus cleansed the Temple the Jews asked him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” His answer was “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” “But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this.” (Jn 2: 18-22).

(17) But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin, and a family divided against itself will be destroyed.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them

The words people express need not contain the full thoughts or intentions of the speakers. When Jesus drove out a demon from the dumb man, the thoughts and reaction of the people present were diverse. The person whom Jesus healed, and those who brought him, might have felt grateful to Jesus. Most bystanders expressed their amazement thanking God for such a blessing came through Jesus. Those who could not recognize the divine power in Jesus blamed him as a coworker of Beelzebul, thus trying to divert the appreciation of the people who expressed the amazement at the miracle. Another group asked Jesus to show more signs to prove his Messiahship. With his divine knowledge, Jesus could understand the bad intention behind their blaming. So, he logically addressed the absurdity of their contention.

Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin

When we look at the history of the world, whenever there was disunity and fighting within a nation, that ended up in division and enormous loss of resources and lives. Both parties become weak, and they could face challenges from outside enemies as well. Israel was strong when they were faithful to God and united among themselves. They could invade the strong Canaanites and occupy Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. After the reign of Solomon, when division happened in Israel, they became weak. Both Northern and Southern Israel ended up in exile by the Assyrians and Babylonians. Unity and teamwork are essential for any nation to survive. So Beelzebul would never allow a person to expel demons from a demoniac because that would be against his own goal.

A family divided against itself will be destroyed.

As with a nation, there must be unity and team spirit in the family. The first family disunity happened, according to the Bible, was the jealousy of Cain against his brother Abel ending up in the martyrdom of Abel and deportation of Cain. “Cain then left the LORD’s presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (Gen 4:16).

When Abram and Lot returned to Canaan from Egypt, “the land could not support them if they stayed together; their possessions were so great that they could not live together” (Gen 13:6). “There were quarrels between the herders of Abram’s livestock and the herders of Lot’s livestock” (Gen 13: 7). Abram avoided potential conflict between their families and found an amicable solution. “So Abram said to Lot: ‘Let there be no strife between you and me, or between your herders and my herders, for we are kindred. Is not the whole land available? Please separate from me. If you prefer the left, I will go to the right; if you prefer the right, I will go to the left’” (Gen 13:8-9). “Lot, therefore, chose for himself the whole Jordan Plain and set out eastward. Thus they separated from each other” (Gen 13:11). According to Jesus, since all demons are united like a family under Beelzebul, they would not have conflicting action among themselves. So, Beelzebul would not collaborate with an outsider like Jesus to drive out demon from a demoniac.

(18) If Satan is also divided, how long can Satan’s power last? How then can you say that I drive out demons by calling on Beelzebul?

The Beelzebul would not cooperate with Jesus to cast out the demon from the demoniac because by doing so, he would destroy his own power. If Satan aided Jesus against his interests, then the kingdom of hell would divide against itself. The reign of Satan and the Kingdom of God are in opposition to each other. So, Satan would not cooperate to work against his kingdom. Hence, the argument of the Pharisees was not logical that Jesus healed the demoniac with the support of Beelzebul. Thus, Jesus counter-argued that he was the Son of God and with that authority he drove out demon from the mute demoniac. By saying so, Jesus admitted the united and organized kingdom of the demons against humans under the leadership of Beelzebul or Satan. Jesus claimed to have the power and willingness to defeat that kingdom to save humanity from the attack of the evil.

(19) And if I drive out demons by relying on Beelzebul, by whose power do your sons drive them out? They therefore refute you.

The Jews had exorcists during those days (Acts 19:13) who were known as “sons of the Prophets.” They did exorcism, calling upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. One person did that in the name of Jesus during his public ministry. John said to Jesus, “‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you’” (Lk 9:49-50). Hence, Jesus questioned the leaders on what authority their own people do the exorcism. If they argue Jesus did the miracle with the power of Satan, they had to admit the same for their people who did the exorcism. The disciples of Jesus were also doing exorcism in his name.

(20) But suppose I drive out demons by the finger of God, would not this mean that the kingdom of God has come upon you?

But suppose I drive out demons by the finger of God

“By the finger of God” is an anthropomorphic or figurative expression of the powerful intervention of God. Matthew used “by the Spirit of God” (Mt 12:28) for the same incident in his gospel. We see similar expressions elsewhere in the Bible:

1. According to the order of the LORD through Moses, Aaron struck the dust of the earth and gnats came upon human beings and beasts. The Egyptian magicians tried to do the same, but failed. Then they told the Pharaoh about the plague, “This is the finger of God” (Ex 8:15).

2. When the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai, the LORD spoke to Moses and “gave him the two tablets of the covenant, the stone tablets inscribed by God’s own finger” (Ex 18:31; 31:18; Deut 9:10).

3. The creation was the work of God’s fingers. “When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place - What is man that you are mindful of him” (Ps 8:4-5).

4. When King Belshazzar offered a banquet for a thousand of his nobles, he used the gold and silver vessels his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. While they were drinking and praising their gods, “the fingers of a human hand appeared, writing on the plaster of the wall in the king’s palace. When the king saw the hand that wrote, his face became pale; his thoughts terrified him, his hip joints shook, and his knees knocked” (Dan 5:5-6). Daniel interpreted it, saying, “the God in whose hand is your very breath and the whole course of your life, you did not glorify. By him was the hand sent, and the writing set down” (Dan 5:23b-24).

5. While Jesus was in the Temple area instructing the people, the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who was caught in adultery. When they asked Jesus whether they should stone her according to the Law, “Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger” (Jn 8:6, 8).

Thus “the finger of God” represents the immense power of God and with no labor.

Would not this mean that the kingdom of God has come upon you?

The opponents of Jesus agreed that the driving out of demons by Jesus was superhuman. He could do it either with the power of Satan or with the Spirit (power) of God (Mt 12:28). Though they accused Jesus of doing it with the power of Beelzebul, Jesus refuted it and proved that the finger of God was at work through him in his miracles, especially in casting our demons. That was the sign of the establishment of the kingdom of God. So, it was already in their midst through Jesus. Its full consummation will happen only at his second coming.

The proof of Jesus’ Messiahship that he gave to John the Baptist’s disciples was, “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them” (Lk 7:22). When Jesus sent his disciples ahead of him to the villages and towns, he said, “cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you’” (Lk 10:9). They were manifesting extraordinary work of the Spirit of God through their healing. That must be the proof for their listeners to believe the truthfulness of their announcement of the Kingdom of God.

(21) As long as the strong and armed man guards his house, his goods are safe.

Jesus illustrates how he would establish the Kingdom of God by defeating the Satan’s domain in the world, or in the lives of individuals by making use of an illustration of breaking into a house seized by the enemy. The occupant’s goods were secure when he had a strong and armed security. However, when a stronger man defeats the other, the stronger will capture all the weapons of the other and destroy his gains.

Here, the strong and armed man who guards the house is Satan. The house is the world that is in his control or the souls of people in sin. His goods stand for the evil in the world or in the person armed by Satan. As long as the Satan guards the sinner, his evil works are safe for him. During that domain of the devil, the sinner feels peace. That will alter when Jesus enters the scene.

(22) But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, the challenger takes away all the weapons he relied on and disposes of his spoils.

The stronger one is Christ, who attacks and overcomes Satan, the strong one. Jesus Christ will take away Satan’s weapons and dispose his evil spoils from the world or from the saved people. John the Baptist introduced Jesus as “one mightier than me” (Lk 3:16). This will be the fulfillment of what God said to the serpent after the fall of the first parents. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel” (Gen 3:15). Thus, the Jesus Christ is mightier than Satan and victorious at the end.

(23) Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me, scatters.

Though Jesus the Saviour defeated Satan, and recovered humanity from the original sin, the people have to cooperate with Jesus and become part of his mystical body. Those who refuse the privilege of joining him for grace will lose the entrance into the lost paradise. So, people have to choose for or against Jesus. They cannot be neutral. Apart from Jesus, there is no eternal salvation.

Comparing Jesus to a vine, he told his disciples, “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned” (Jn 15: 4-6). Paul wrote to Romans on the diverse functions of Christians in union with Jesus, “For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another” (Rom 12:4-5).

Though we are in the world at present, we should “know that we belong to God, and the whole world is under the power of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19). So, John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever” (1 Jn 2:15-17). Paul wrote to Romans, “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:2). James wrote, “Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (Jm 4:4). Peter warns, “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour” (1 Pet 5:8). Jesus prayed to the Father for his disciples, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one” (Jn 17:15). Hence, Jesus told his apostles, “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33).  

The Return of the Evil Spirit

(Lk 11:24) When the evil spirit goes out of someone, it wanders through dry lands looking for a resting place. And finding none, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ (25) So it returns and finds the house swept and everything in order. (26) Then it goes to fetch seven other spirits even worse than itself, and entering that house settles down in it. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.

When one associates with God, the evil spirit might leave him and move to a nearby desert. It can mean a dry land without water, an uninhabited place, a place of wild animals, and a place of evil spirits. The desert has special significance in the Bible. Bible characters like Hagar, Moses, Israelites, John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul (Gal 1:17) spent time in the desert. It can be a place to be alone with God for prayer and fasting, and a place of spiritual test.

The Jews believed evil spirits had their abode in the desert (Is 13:21). They return to their desert dwellings when they leave a person who becomes close to God. However, they get dissatisfied in the desert and would prefer to return to the humans they had occupied before.

When the evil spirits return, they might find it hard to get into the persons they left before, like the Pharisees and Scribes who were following the laws of God, making it swept and garnished. However, their house had no presence of God. What they had was only an outward show of rituals and religious sacrifices. Their heart was empty with no concern for the lost sheep of Israel. Jesus said of them, “You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing” (Mt 23: 27b-28). Though God sent his Son to them, they rejected him. So, the evil spirits will return to the desert and come with a legion of seven wicked spirits to invade the person. Since their souls were empty and had no presence of the Spirit of God in them, the evil spirits will enter them. That would make the situation worse for the people than in the previous condition. Thus, a superficial Jew or Christian would not last long in his spirituality.

Seven stands for a sizeable group like a legion of demons entered the demoniac in Gennesaret (Mk 5:9; Lk 8:30). Seven demons had entered Mary Magdalene before Jesus expelled them (Mk 16:9).

In the history of Israel, the chosen people had made a covenant with God to be faithful to Him and, thus, God sanctified them. Though the devil had left them, they ended up later, worse than before, because of their carelessness in keeping up their covenantal relationship with God. Idolatry and immorality crept into their lives. Thus, evil spirits dominated them, ending God’s punishment. The same situation can happen to the disciples of Jesus.

After healing a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years at the pool in Bethesda, Jesus told him, “Look, you are well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse may happen to you” (Jn 5:14). According to Peter, “a person is a slave of whatever overcomes him. For if they, having escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, again become entangled and overcome by them, their last condition is worse than their first. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment handed down to them” (2 Pet 2: 19b-21).

The book of Hebrews presents the worse situation of fallen away Christians: “it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding him up to contempt” (Heb 6:4-6).

The Pharisees who criticized Jesus and others who asked for more signs from Jesus were not sincere to receive Jesus. They approached him with a negative attitude. So even if Jesus gave them more signs, they would not become convinced of his role as the Messiah. Even if they accept him temporarily, they will fail in their faith again because of the lack of their sincerity and they would end up in a spiritually worse situation.

MESSAGE

1. Jesus denied no request for help to those who approached him as he healed the mute demoniac. How do we respond to those who need our help?

2. Bystanders reacted differently to the miracle of Jesus. People were grateful to God for the healing and attributed divinity to Jesus. The Pharisees accused Jesus of driving out demons with the power of Beelzebul and thus humiliating him as an associate of Satan. Are we optimistic or pessimistic about dealing with others and pastoral matters?

3. Though Jesus exhibited miracles proving his divinity, the opponents kept on demanding for more signs. Their goal was not to believe in him but to accuse him with blasphemy and end his mission. Even today, there are people who are more argumentative in religious matters. Let us pray to God for an increase in our faith and that of others who doubt in Him.

4. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is at hand with the establishment of the church. We are privileged to be members of that kingdom in which Jesus is the king. Let us follow the teachings of Jesus, the traditions of his church, and his representatives assigned to us.

5. The fullness of the Kingdom of God will happen at the second coming of Christ. We have to faithfully doing our duties as members of the church, the foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us pray that we be on the right hand of Jesus at his last judgement.

6. Though we are following Jesus as members of his church, Satan might tempt us to fall away from the church. In such a case the Satan will return to us with more power and our salvation will become tough. Let us try to be vigilant in keeping up our faith.

7. Let us pray for the conversion of the fallen away church members around us.