Overcoming The "Strong Man"
“… if it is by the finger of God that [I] drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Luke’s Gospel recounts the delightful scene of the Visitation, when the Spirit enabled Elizabeth to recognize the coming of the Lord among his people. Here in the doorway of a simple Jewish home, the Good News is first proclaimed between two women! This moment of great joy stands in stark contrast to the response of the crowds in today’s reading. Rather than recognizing that God is in their midst, some accuse Jesus of colluding with the devil, while others seek to test him as Satan once did in the desert. They have not recognized the moment of their visitation—the moment when God has come to dwell with them.
During this Lenten season, I think the Lord desires to remind us that “the Kingdom of God has come upon [us]”—it is not a distant reality, but is present here and now, even as we await the final fulfillment of this promise. Do we recognize the moments of our visitation, rejoicing in the presence of our Lord at work within us and around us throughout our day? Yet for us Christians, recognition is only the beginning! We are called to be people of the Kingdom, making the Kingdom present in our world today as we offer others Christ’s healing presence and love.
In today’s reading, Jesus makes it clear that we each must make a choice in this regard: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Faced with these two conflicting sides, we must choose whom we will follow. We cannot stay on the fence, for if we do not choose Christ, we will be counted against him. Still, it is consoling to realize that for those of us who do choose Christ, the victory is already at hand! If we give our lives to Jesus, he will overcome the “strong man,” casting out the darkness in our hearts and setting us free to love and serve him.
Dear Jesus, I choose you! I want to be all yours, and to spend my life gathering others to you through the witness of my life and love. Like the crowd in today’s Gospel, I know that I have often failed to recognize your presence within me and around me. Help me to become always more aware of the many ways you are at work in each moment of my day so that I can better come to know your great love for me. As this understanding grows, allow my heart to resound with gratitude and love. Help me to bring this love to all those I meet.
I choose Christ.
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2008). Lenten Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 62–63). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.