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Kevin ClarkeMarch 16, 2023
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

You can find today’s reading here.

But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.”
(Lk 11:17-18)

If your information about regional and communal relations in the United States comes from Twitter or grandstanding talking heads on cable news who are content to traffic in rumor and innuendo, you may already be eulogizing the country you thought you knew.

In Congress, the nation’s elected representatives degrade themselves with increasingly brazen gaslighting of the public, telling you what you have seen with your own eyes you have not seen, the suffering you have experienced, you have not experienced. Some, deriding this imperfect union even further, tell you that at best a national divorce is wanted, if not an outright civil conflict that will take off where the last one ended, fighting some of the same battles with the same mercilessness. Americans seem more ready than ever to surrender to our many divisions.

You may already know this discontent from your own life, politics souring a Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family or the evening news provoking a shouting match in the living room.

What unites me in faith with fellow Catholics—the Eucharist, the works of mercy and Christ’s healing grace—is far more important than ideological perspectives or policy differences that threaten to divide us.

Even Satan’s house, Jesus says, cannot stand if his minions cannot stand together. Why shouldn’t this house fall? It would not be the first nation to implode because of unmanageable civil discord. It would not even be the first time it happened here. Things indeed seem to be diabolically falling apart.

It is worth remembering in such anxious moments that the real world is often far distant from its distorted reflection on social media. Few people have the chutzpah to speak in person with the same indifference to the minimum requirements of civility as they indulge online, thank goodness. Face-to-face, we recall the humanity of the other and behave accordingly. Those moments of true interaction, where relationship—despite even powerful differences—begins, are templates of civility worth replicating in the online world where the public commons is increasingly convened.

This house can, this house will stand together. What unites me in faith with fellow Catholics—the Eucharist, the works of mercy and Christ’s healing grace—is far more important than ideological perspectives or policy differences that threaten to divide us.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus confronts his muttering doubters, people spreading the worst calumnies about him, seeking to sow division within his community. Indeed his power to drive out demons comes from the Father, he assures them, telling them: Believe in the witness of your own eyes, the kingdom of God has come upon you now.

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