In today's gospel, scribes have come from Jerusalem to see Jesus.
No doubt, they want to investigate the wonders that have been attributed to Him. Their conclusion is astonishing. Despite His attention to prayer and compassion, they say that Jesus can cure illness and expel demons because He is in league with the devil, an accusation we still hear today.
However, Jesus is not dismayed. He responds to the accusation with an analogy that challenges people today but perhaps was not lost on those surrounding Him. He compares Satan's control over the world to a strong man's possession of a house. Then Jesus compares Himself to an even stronger man who has come into Satan's house and ties him up. As a result, the household is liberated from Satan's perverse rule.
Jesus overturns the scribe's accusation, saying that if He does what He does in the name of the devil, the devil is fighting itself. For that is what He came to do in this world: resist the devil inhabiting our human homestead.
"Aikido" is a martial art, like karate. It is a unique way of self-defense because it uses the assailant's aggression against himself. The principle is reflected in how Christ defended Himself against the scribes' accusation against Him. The scribes accused Jesus of driving out demons by their power. Jesus immediately saw the flaw in the logic and said, "How can Satan drive out Satan?"
He explains His intention in a fascinating way: "No one can make his way into a strong man's house and steal his property unless he has first tied up the man. Only then can he take his house."
He comes as a divine thief in our human night to break through the walls of the existing "order" that keeps us terrorized and imprisoned (Mt 24:43). Binding that strong man and simultaneously unbinding us. Jesus comes to bind the strong man who threatens humanity. He comes to liberate us.
I don't know if you're familiar with divide-and-rule tactics. These were the military tactics used by the Roman emperors before Christ was born in conquering other empires throughout Europe. The British used these tactics in India against the kingdoms when they colonized India. They caused a conflict within one nation/Kingdom and made the two divided groups fight each other until the empire weakened and reached its downfall.
But a more critical message confronts us: a house divided against itself cannot stand. "House" could mean family, organization, community, group, tribe, country, friendship, class, party and many more. "That all may be one" is the prayer of Jesus. As long as we Christians remain divided, we still have a long way to go in realizing God's kingdom.
From January 18 to 25, we are invited to pray for unity among Christians, especially between all denominations. One mark of a faithful Christian is their passion for unity. Do I have this passion?
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