Father Linus Clovis: Kingdom Divided
Now he was casting out a demon that was dumb; when the demon had gone out, the dumb man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beel′zebul, the prince of demons”; while others, to test him, sought from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beel′zebul. And if I cast out demons by Beel′zebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace; but when one stronger than he assails him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoil. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”
As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”Luke 11:14-28
This account that Our Lord gives us of the casting out of demons is found in the two Gospels. That of St. Matthew, as well as that of St. Luke. St. Matthew tells us that the demoniac was blind, as well as deaf, and St. Luke tells us that he was dumb, and it would appear that he was also deaf, which meant that he could not naturally speak, that is, he hadn’t learned how to speak since he was deaf from an early age.
And so, we can say that the demoniac, the man was possessed; that he was blind, he was deaf, and he was dumb; which is a pretty terrible situation to be. But again, when we look beyond the mere words, we look into the mystery; we find that those who are possessed are quite unable to use their senses to know the living God because they do not have the spiritual sight to see the truth, nor are they able to hear the truth, and of course they cannot praise God, who is the truth.
And so, we’re told at that time Jesus was casting out the devil and the same was dumb, and when he had cast the devil out, that man spoke. So we have these four miracles, namely he’s freed from the the power of the demon. Secondly, he is able to hear, and consequently, he immediately gives praise to God, and of course he received his site, St. Matthew tells us.
So, these four miracles are worked instantaneously by the mere word of Our Lord. And, we’re told the crowds marveled because of the power that had been demonstrated to them. And the crowds were innocent; innocent as much as they believed what they saw. They saw the power; the miracle occurring and consequently, they believed in the one who worked the miracle. They were ready to proclaim him to be the Messiah and indeed, at the end of the passage, we heard how the woman in the crowd cries out, “bless the womb that bore you, the breasts that nursed you,” and this, in fact, is because of the innocence of the people, the crowd; the multitudes, not personal innocence from sin, but rather an openness to the Word of God as manifested in the person of Our Lord.
But there are those who cannot deny the reality of the miracle. It is obvious and evident. They cannot deny it.
We’re told they said,” by Beelzebub the prince of devils he casts out devils.” And so, they give a malicious interpretation to the miracle.
And we can see that happening again and again in the history of the Church. For instance, when we have this stupendous miracle just over 100 years ago at Fatima, where the sun itself danced in the sky, and this was witnessed by more than 70,000 people, and these were people who were not only in the Cova itself, but there were people scattered all around the area who didn’t know about what is happening at Fatima. There were some people, even at sea, who saw the sun danced and yet even today, we hear that it is a natural phenomenon, as if the sun dances in the sky every day, or that it is the demon who is doing these things.
And again, on the Night of the Unknown Light in 1938, January 26th, when the whole of the northern hemisphere was lit up by an unknown light; so much so that this phenomenon was reported in the New York Times, in Chicago, in Paris, London, Germany, even in Italy. The newspaper reports speak of it. It’s dismissed as a natural phenomenon. Those had never been seen before. And not only that, we’re told, interestingly, that there was a sound of burning, and that the fire engines were out looking for the fire, but it was the Night of the Unknown Light. A night that Our Lady had prophesied that would signal the beginning of the second world war. Within nine months, the war began. And again, it began within the pontificate of Pius XI, as Our Lady had said.
Again, we see this striking example where people attribute something supernatural to the work of the demon. What does Our Lord respond? Well, we have those who marvel because they can see the work, the hand of God. They’re those who interpret it to be the work of the demon, and then there are others who just dismiss it and say, “okay you’ve worked these miracles but we don’t really believe; we want a sign from heaven,” as if that would convince them. As Our Lord himself says, “if they will not believe Moses, they will not believe even if someone should rise from the dead”. And so, they demand a sign from heaven, as Elijah had given a sign, calling on fire on the sacrifice; or as Gideon gave a sign by holding the sun firmly in the heavens until he gained the victory; or Hezekiah who prayed, and the sun retracted on itself; this is a sign they want, but would they believe? Our Lord himself says, “even if someone were to rise from the dead, you would not believe”. It applies also to us today, if we are able to see the signs and to interpret the signs.
We’re told the Lord, seeing their thoughts–because the Lord doesn’t just listen to the word that comes from the mouth but rather the heart which generates the word, and he said, “every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation and the house will fall upon the house upon itself.” Because the strength of a household, the strength of a city, the strength of a nation, lies in unity. And the strength of the Church lies also in unity. If there is division within the Church, then each one goes his own way. But it’s not possible for the Church to be divided. So, the Lord says–and he doesn’t quote the Scriptures because they will not believe the Scriptures; the Scriptures which spoke about he himself, for the works that he did; the restoration of sight, the giving of hearing to the deaf and loosening the the tongue of the dumb and so on, were prophesied by Isaiah. And if they wouldn’t accept it, then there’s no point in speaking of the Scriptures. And so, he speaks from ordinary experience. Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. So division leads to desolation. And so he says, if this is true in the natural order, how much so must it be true in the spiritual order. If Satan is divided against himself, his kingdom is doomed. It is the end of it.
And we’re told–he continues now to draw the analogy, if this is how it is in the natural order and in the spiritual order, then don’t you think it’s also true in the supernatural order, he said, because you’re saying I cast out devils by Beelzebub, so if I do indeed cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? And he’s referring, of course, to his disciples primarily, who were Jews, and they also had–he had given the power to cast out demons. And of course the Jews also had their own exorcist, and they attributed that work to the Holy Spirit, to God himself. So, he says, how then–you see the same work, how then can you presume a different source of the work.? So, he says, let them be your judges; you see the same work being done, you attribute different power. You are being malicious but those whom you recognize as working as doing a divine work, they will judge you for your maliciousness. And indeed, your hatred against me is essentially what Our Lord is saying.
Having established that, he goes on to express, to explain to them the consequences of what he’s doing. But if I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. So he says I’m casting out devils, therefore it is the kingdom of God that is present. And he’s going to explain how this is so. St. Matthew uses the same expression, the same words, but of the difference instead of saying “the finger of God,” he says, “but if I cast out devils by the power of the Holy Spirit”; by the Holy Spirit. And so we can see immediately that the Holy Spirit is also called the finger of God as indeed it is in the Veni Creator Spiritus. The Holy Spirit is the finger of God, as Our Lord is the hand of God, the right hand of God. And so we see there’s a unity of principle, a unity of power, a unity of substance between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And so, he continues. This being true, he explains now exactly what he, Christ, is doing. When the strong man, fully armed, guards his courtyard, his properties aren’t disturbed. Well the strong man is the devil. Satan. He’s fully armed, and so his courtyard, his property is at peace, in tranquility. But he says if a stronger then he attacks and overcomes him, then the stronger one will take away his weapons that he relied on and will divide his spoils. So who is the stronger man but Christ himself. For he, being the Word of God became man taken flesh in the womb of the virgin, and upon his entry immediately he took away the weapons that the devil, Satan, depends upon, which is essentially sin. By taking away sin, Our Lord, in fact, has freed all those who were held captive by sin. And so he divides the spoils. That is, he leads us away from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. He takes us away from being slaves to Satan to being children of God.
And then he goes on to say he who is not with me is against me. He who does not gather with me, scatters. And again, he is pointing out–Our Lord is pointing out that we cannot be indifferent. We cannot be neutral in this battle. We are either for him or we are against him, or more concretely, if we adopt a neutral position, we are against him. It means that, since being taken away, we are obliged to perform good works. We must do something. To do nothing is not an option. To do nothing, it’s essentially to work against Christ. And we think of so many examples that Our Lord has given us in the parables such as the rich man. We’re not told that he was particularly wicked except that he did nothing to help Lazarus. We think of the rich fool who had a bumper crop. We weren’t told that he was particularly wicked, but we’re told that he amassed wealth for no purpose, and so he’s lost. We cannot be indifferent. We must take sides for or against. Not to take sides is, in fact, to stand against Christ. And then he goes on to speak about the unclean spirit.
If we think of the condition of the Church today, a condition that Our Lady had forewarned us in 1917 and again in 1925 and again in 1929 and again in 1931, where she was very specific, and she warned us of the times in which were approaching, showing the ultimate destiny, First of all she spoke of heaven, from whence she came. And then she showed the children the vision of hell, warning that this was the consequence of being indifferent to Christ and being opposed to Christ, and that she had come to save us from that place. And then she came again to speak about the consecration and warning again, that failure to do so would lead us to follow the king of France into misfortune and asking merely for the consecration of Russia by the Pope and the bishops. And all of this has not been done. And then we hear she came again at Akita, and she warned of bishop against bishop and cardinal against cardinal, and this we have seen. Although, this last warning was in the 1970s, we have seen it coming to fruition, and yet we still do not believe, for even now there’s a resistance to the consecration, even though Putin himself went to Rome and asked the Pope to consecrate Russia. And yet the response was no, and we think, well, what is happening?
Well, we know what is happening. The enemy has taken the fort. We know that the citadel has been taken. We see how Our Lady has been insulted again and again under this very pontificate, and we see how there’s such division among the hierarchy, and we know that it seems as if Satan has indeed got his wish. He has sifted us as Our Lord himself has said at the beginning where the Kingdom of Heaven, he says, cannot stand because it has been sifted. Our Lord had warned Peter, Satan’s got his wish to sift you like wheat. And indeed, the sifting has led to division within the hierarchy.
And yet the Church cannot be divided. It is impossible. The unity of the Church consists in three things. Namely, the sacred scriptures. We believe firmly what the Church has always taught in sacred scriptures and sacred tradition. These cannot change. We also know that the unity of church consists in one worship. The divine worship in itself. It is pleasing to God because it brings unity. And thirdly in the authority, the authentic magisterium of the Church, which again cannot change. It must always remain the same. This is where our unity lies, and so anything else will necessarily attack one of these three. Anything that divides. Satan must necessarily attack the Church in these three areas, and so we see the attack on scripture, where the words, even the very words of scripture are being changed because we don’t agree entirely with what they say. We see the morals of the Church, that the Church has taught, being undermined. We see the sacred liturgy being attacked, as well, and even suggestions being made that those who do not belong to the faith could receive the sacraments or those who live immoral lives could receive the sacraments. We see baptism itself, the font of all the sacraments itself, being delayed and regarded as just a mere ceremony. And of course the sacred authority itself, the tradition, the authentic magisterium, is put aside because it cannot be contradicted, so it’s ignored. And we talk about a new this and a new that. So if we hold firm to what has always been believed and always taught everywhere, then we are united to Christ.
And so, the Lord goes on to say, when the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, it roams through the waterless places in search of rest and finding none, he says I will go, I’ll return to my house which I left. And when he’s come, he’s found it swept clean, and he goes and finds seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there, and the last state of the man is worse than the first.
In the first interpretation, as applicable to the Jews, Our Lord was saying that you went down because the Patriarchs, the fathers, were firm in their belief in God, the God who had spoken to them directly, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He said you, when you went down into Egypt, they went down under Joseph and there they were freed after 400 years by Moses. And so coming out of Egypt, they became the people of God, and they were given the the commandments. And then being given the commandments, they were freed from the power of the Evil One, that is the devil was cast out of them. And although he made several attempts to return, nonetheless they kept him out. The law kept him out but then the Lord says, I have come, and I’m speaking to you, and you will not listen. Therefore, when I leave, the Evil One will return because he says I’m coming back to the house from which I was thrown out. And he finds it empty because the spirit is left. It’s in order. All the forms are there, but there’s no one there. No one living there, and so he goes and he gets seven spirits more evil than himself, and that last state becomes worse because the seven spirits more evil, in fact, crucified the Lord of Glory.
It applies also to us today. We find that the form of the Church remains somewhat intact, but the spirit of Christ seems to have departed. And so the evil spirit has entered, and we find that there are strange voices speaking within the Church. And we know they’re strange because they disturb us. We hear things that have never been heard before, and we know that evil spirit has indeed returned. And for this reason that we hold firm to what the Church has always taught, what the Church has always done. And so the Scriptures are prophetic, and they certainly apply to our time, and that’s Our Lord is saying these things. And again we remember to whom he’s speaking. The crowds who marvel at what he has done and what he has said, the authorities, the scribes and the Pharisees who put a malicious interpretation to it.
And we come back again to the crowds, the woman in the crowd, one in particular who has heard what he has said and immediately she cannot keep quiet. Blessed she says, is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that nursed you. She’s thinking that here is the Messiah, and the mother of the messiah is the one by whom she’s able to hear. And Our Lord responds, yes but far blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it. And this is exactly what his mother did because she kept the Word of God and so conceived the eternal Word of God in her womb, and therefore in this time in which we live, we turn to our Blessed Lady whose womb is blessed because she carried the savior and who carries us also in her heart, for which reason she came to Fatima to warn us of these times.
Let us ask then her intercession that we do not fall prey to the Evil One but holding fast to what we have always believed, we may be united to Christ. Not scattering but united to him, gathering souls onto eternal life. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Video courtesy of Family Life International, transcript provided by WQPH