Readers of the gospels experience no surprise when hearing of the opposition which Jesus encounters, even in the face of his healing miracles; it is a rather common theme. However, the extent to which his opposition will go to deny his divine origins seems to reach a kind of highpoint in today’s passage from Luke. To the absurd accusation, “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons” Jesus responds with an unmasking of this senseless opposition while also revealing the heart of that opposition.
Jesus first demonstrates that the accusation defies common sense: no power opposed to God will attack itself! Second, he challenges his accusers by reminding them of the tradition of exorcism in Israel: “. . . . by whom do your own people drive [demons] out?” Finally, he moves to the focal point of their opposition: the refusal to acknowledge, in the person and teaching of Jesus, the Kingdom of God, capable of destroying Satan’s power.
The world in which we live proclaims boldly and defends loudly the separation of the secular from the religious. We are familiar with opposition to any acknowledgement of the intervention of the Kingdom of God in daily events. However, even among believers, doubts about God’s nearness can mix all too easily with statements of faith. In the face of this world’s darkness, believers wonder about this Kingdom of God and its power.
Certainly, those who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus must have thought similar thoughts.
The gospel invites us today to pray for the faith that sees, that trusts in the power of the Kingdom among us. Where will I see and trust that power today at work, in prayer, in relationships?
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