2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10
In today’s Gospel reading, some of the scribes who have observed all that Jesus has done, say, "By the prince of demons he drives out demons." They can’t bring themselves to acknowledge any good coming from Jesus. Jesus shows the folly of their thinking by replying, "How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand."
As we continue through the "election cycle," as the pundits call it, it seems that division continues to be the order of the day. There seem to be many issues that readily divide us, some having to do with policy, and others that are part of what are called the "culture wars." And I wonder if much of the division isn’t caused by falling into the same trap that the scribes fall into. Very often, just as the scribes were with Jesus, we can’t acknowledge anything good coming from those who disagree with us.
If we get into a condemnatory stance with regards to others, we need to be careful. Although we need to judge what is right and good, it is not our place to condemn. That is reserved for God alone.
The Church in the U.S. has set this day as a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. We may not understand why this is such a divisive issue when it seems so clear to us. While it is necessary to stand up for life, I’m not sure we help when we are quick to condemn. It seems to me that those who do all they can to help young women in bringing their babies into the world, either keeping them, or putting them up for adoption, have the best approach. I also applaud those who are willing to listen to women who have chosen abortion. If we are to persuade those who believe that abortion is a "right," we need to understand the reason for their beliefs.
Is there a way to be true to our beliefs, and be faithful disciples, and listen to and acknowledge good when it comes from those who do not share our beliefs? Personally, I believe so. There are many instances in the Gospels where Jesus honors requests by those who were not His disciples. Love is still the ultimate commandment. May we follow Jesus in love today.
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P. is the director of St. Paul of the Cross Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.