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Friday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Scriptural Readings: Galatians 3:7-14; Psalm 111:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6; Luke 11:15-26

My dear encountered couples:

Why would any of those Jewish people even think of saying what we are told they said about Jesus? “It is by Beelzebul, the prince of devils, that he casts out devils.” The only answer must be that for some reason or other they greatly disliked him.

Jesus had just cast out a devil from a man who could not speak. Immediately thereafter the man was able to speak. We would think the people would applaud Jesus and be happy for the man. But no! They criticized instead. They were jealous of Jesus, they were opposed to him for some reason or other, they showed their hatred of him. And no matter what he would do, they were going to find fault with it. Do we ever do that with anybody?

Think of someone you don’t like. Maybe I should pretend we all like everybody. After all, we attend Sunday Mass together (or online/TV Sunday masses during this pandemic), thanking God for his goodness, praying for the welfare of our neighbors, showing we love everybody. We do, don’t we? I hope so - at least down deep. But let’s be real. We might do our best to love and get along with everybody, and that is what really counts. But we don’t necessarily like everybody, do we?

Whether it is a defect in them or a fault of ours, let’s admit it, there are people we don’t particularly like - people we are prone to criticize and pick apart no matter what they do. That was the reaction some people had in regard to Jesus.

Whether it was jealousy, theology, politics, or personality, they just didn’t like him. And so, in their eyes whatever Jesus did was objectionable, even sinful. Doesn’t make sense, does it? Neither do we when we are always criticizing someone and never giving credit. The goodness of God is somewhere in everybody. Maybe we need to open our sometimes-prejudiced eyes and see it.

We might ask, “Well, shouldn't I condemn evil in the midst of this crazy and very evil world?” Yes, we should stand up for justice in the face of evil. But, that doesn't mean we condemn the evil doer. It doesn't mean we lose compassion or become indifferent to those who suffer. It doesn't mean we form divisive camps against the other. It doesn't mean our hearts become filled with “opposition” and “fighting.” It means we become bridge builders, reconcilers, unifiers, finding the path toward the common good together. The Spirit who blessed our own hearts with Jesus’ promised peace will show us the way to togetherness and solidarity, which looks and feels like the way of Jesus, and the way of his disciples.

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