Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection January 22, 2024


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R/. My mercy and my faithfulness shall be with him.

V/. Alleluia R/. Alleluia

V/. Our Saviour Christ Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

R/. Alleluia

At that time: The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast 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, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

1. We live in a power-hungry world where power and authority are almost identified with domination and manipulation. In such a context, David in the first reading and Jesus in the gospel, show us what is true power. It comes only from God, from His abiding presence and guidance.

2. Power and authority are meant to shepherd those entrusted to one’s care. True power never sides with evil and never compromises with evil forces. It always combats the evil and surpasses and binds the evil one who is strong.

3. Working for unity and for good in consistency and commitment was the hallmark of all of them. In fact, this is the essential trait of any good and godly person. In contrast, any trace of division and inconsistency in doing good are clearly the clearest signs of the evil one.

4. That is why when the scribes blame Jesus that he was casting out demons with the help of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he challenges them. He contests: “How can Satan cast out Satan… if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand”. Jesus casts out demons not because he is working in cooperation with him but because he is stronger than Satan. He binds Satan, the strong one.

5. Therefore the greater strength of the men of God comes only from the power of God. It is the power of the Holy Spirit. Anything that is good is “spiritual” power and not demoniac. In this sense, it would be really sinful if one does not recognize the action of the Spirit. And in that sense, it is really blasphemy to attribute the divine power to the help of the evil spirit.

6. In this context, we all must be very cautious and judicious lest we also fall into the sin of ‘wrong attribution’ and ‘falsification’ of what is good and godly. Often our self-righteousness, our arrogance, our power-mongering, prejudices, and jealousies lead us into the sin of slander and calumny. This is nothing but a disguised “blasphemy”!

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