Sunday Sermon for June 10, 2018, the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Readings: Gen 3:9-15; 2 Cor 4:13-5:1; Mk 3:20-35
In the Gospel reading today our Lord states that if a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand. The context of this statement is the accusation leveled against Jesus that He was driving out demons by Beelzebul. So our Lord said if Satan has risen against himself, he cannot stand; it is the end of him.
Unfortunately, the vile creature does not appear to be divided against himself at the present time. Instead, it appears he has been granted a fair amount of leeway to cause havoc for God’s people and for the world. If he has been given this ability to cause trouble for us, then we must realize we are under siege and being tempted to be divided.
In the first reading we hear about the aftermath of choice made by our first parents when they were tempted by the serpent. They were in the State of Grace when Satan tromped into the Garden. They knew God’s will and His command to them, but they chose to listen to the subtle lies of the devil and fell prey to his wiles. In doing this they became divided within themselves, as well as with God, one another, and all of creation.
They were created for union with God and one another, but by listening to the serpent and failing to trust God, they chose to disobey God and sinned. This choice had tragic consequences for them and for their offspring. Among those consequences, our bodies and our wills tend to be at odds with what is good. Couple that with the darkening of the mind and the weakening of the will and we find ourselves in a rather precarious situation.
We have the spirit of faith, of which St. Paul writes in the second reading, so we believe in God and in what He has revealed. At the same time, St. Paul talks about our outer self wasting away while our inner self is being renewed. Once again, we see this conflict going on within our own self. But St. Paul explains why this is happening: our earthly tent (the body) will be destroyed, but we have a building from God which is eternal in Heaven.
So, there are several aspects of our lives which seem to be in opposition to one another. There is the body and the soul, there is the choice between God and what He has revealed and Satan and his subtle temptations, and there is the struggle between what is of earth and what is of Heaven.
If we profess to have the spirit of faith, then it is necessary to live in accordance with that spirit. Our society pays more attention to the body than it does to the soul. We live in a world where God is escorted out while the red carpet is rolled out for Satan. We are often very much attached to the things this world has to offer while rejecting the things God gives us to make us more holy and lead us to Heaven.
These kinds of dichotomies within our lives leave us very vulnerable to being a house divided. We know we are to live according to the spirit of faith, but the things of the body appear more appealing than the things that are good for the soul. To go along with the crowd seems to be easier than following God and being rejected by the crowd. Material things we can see, touch, and amass are often more attractive to us that the spiritual exercises that can be dry, painful and leave us feeling abandoned by God. The pleasures of the senses can be mistakenly preferred over the sufferings which, according to St. Paul, produce an eternal weight of glory.
The Saints have told us about the spiritual life and the way God works. We know it is only through the Cross that we are purified and by death that we enter into eternal life. Today there are so many ways to be distracted from the things of the Spirit that it can be hard for us to live fully the faith we profess. People today want to call themselves Catholic, but then turn around and say “but I don’t believe this or that.” Many try to excuse immorality because it is so commonplace and we want to fit in.
God’s truth and His ways have not changed, so if there is something which gravitates against God and His truth, it is a lie. We know the enemy of our souls will use anything to confuse us, but if we give into the devil’s lies, we are a house divided. If we live by the spirit of faith, we are God’s house, the strongman’s house that cannot be plundered because the Strongman dwells within.
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.