Monday, January 24, 2011

The Son, the Scribes, and the Strong Man

James J. Tissot, "Woe Unto You, Scribes and Pharisees"
 The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” 

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. 

Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit” (Mk 3:22-30).

Jesus has just worked a miracle but the scribes refuse to recognize it "for they had said 'He has an unclean spirit'" (v. 30). They do not want to admit that God is the author of the miracle. In this attribute lies the special gravity of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit -- attributing to the prince of evil, to Satan, the good works performed by God himself ... That is why our Lord says that he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven: not because God cannot forgive all sins, but because that person, in his blindness towards God, rejects Jesus Christ, his teaching and his miracles, and despises the graces of the Holy Spirit as if they were designed to trap him (cf. St. Pius V Catechism, II, 5, 19; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, II-II, q. 14, a. 3). CF. note on Mt 12:31-32.
--from The Navarre Bible: St. Mark

The Catechism of the Catholic Church opens up the Scriptures to us. 
Read Scripture and the Catechism together daily!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church on "The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God"

543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations (Cf. Mt 8:11 10:5-7; 28:19). To enter it, one must first accept Jesus' word: 

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest (Lumen Gentium 5; cf. Mk 4:14, 26-29; Lk 12:32).

546 Jesus' invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching (Cf. Mk 4:33-34).
On "The Signs of the Kingdom of God"

547 Jesus accompanies his words with many "mighty works and wonders and signs", which manifest that the kingdom is present in him and attest that he was the promised Messiah (Acts 2:22; cf. Lk 7:18-23).
548 The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him (Cf. Jn 5:36; 10:25, 38).  To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask (Cf. Mk 5:25-34; 10:52; etc). So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father's works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God (Cf. Jn 10:31-38). But his miracles can also be occasions for "offense" (Mt 11:6); they are not intended to satisfy people's curiosity or desire for magic. Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons (Cf. Jn 11:47-48; Mk 3:22).
549 By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death (Cf. Jn 6:5-15; Lk 19:8; Mt 11:5), Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below (Cf. Lk 12 13-14; Jn 18:36), but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God's sons and causes all forms of human bondage (Cf. Jn 8:34-36).

550 The coming of God's kingdom means the defeat of Satan's: "If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mt 12:26, 28). Jesus' exorcisms free some individuals from the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus' great victory over "the ruler of this world" (Jn 12:31; cf. Lk 8:26-39). The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ's cross.

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