Date: Thursday, Mar 16
Contributor: Ross Ackerman
Jesus was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? —for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore, they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
The above Gospel reminds me of Lincoln’s famous speech, “A House Divided against itself Cannot Stand” given a couple years before the Civil War. The state of the nation was heavily divided at the time and ultimately led to the Civil War. Our own times seem to be almost as rife with division – capitol insurrections, those threatening to secede as they tried to do over 150 years ago.
History may not repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes. Lincoln surely was inspired by this Gospel passage when he penned these words. Jesus gives us all an object lesson on division: whether a kingdom, country, house or even Satan and his demons.
While it’s impossible for humanity to seek a utopian unity, Jesus and Lincoln both remind us how destructive and dangerous rampant division and strife can cause individuals and communities in whatever forms they take.
In division, we certainly can’t endure half-one thing and half-other without dissolution. In this Lenten time it is important that we reflect on the words of Jesus and the inspiration Lincoln used to craft his famous speech.