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Lenten Reflection: Day 24
Gospel, Luke 11:14-23
The wars from outside are not as ruinous as the civil ones. Yes, and this is the case in bodies too; it is even the case in all things…So whether it is a small thing, or a great, if it is at odds with itself, it perishes…Do you see the great absurdity of the accusation, how great the folly, the inconsistency?…That does ‘the Kingdom’ mean? ‘My coming’.
Do you see how again He conciliates and soothes them, and draws them to the knowledge of Himself and signifies that they are warring with their own good and are contentious against their own salvation. For though you ought to rejoice, He says, and leap for joy that One has come bestowing those great and unutterable blessings, hymned of old by the prophets, and that the time of your prosperity is at hand, you do the opposite; so far are you from receiving the blessings, you even speak ill of them, and frame accusations that have no real being.
Now Matthew says indeed, “If I by the Spirit of God cast out’, but Luke ‘If I by the finger of God cast out the devils’: implying that to cast out the devils is a work of the greatest power, and not of any ordinary grace. And He means infact that from these things they should infer and say, if this be so, then the Son of God is come….He darkly intimates by saying, ‘Then the kingdom of God has come upon you’…by the very things they were blaming, He showed His presence shining forth.
Prayer, fasting, watching, and all other Christian acts, however good they may be, do not alone constitute the aim of our Christian life, although they serve as the indispensable means of reaching this aim. The true aim of our Christian life, is to acquire the Holy Spirit of God. But mark, my son, only the good deed done for Christ’s sake brings us the fruits of the Holy Spirit. All that is not done for His sake, thought it be good, bring neither reward in the life to come nor in our life here the grace of God.
Luke 11:23 says, “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest..then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself.” What can this saying mean? As the possessed, He says, when delivered from the infirmity, should they be at all remiss, draw upon themselves their delusion more grievous than ever: even so is it with you. For before you were also possessed by a devil, when you were worshipping idols, and slaying your sons to the devil, exhibiting great madness.
Nevertheless, I did not forsake you, but cast out that devil by the prophets; and now I have come in my own person, willing to cleanse you more entirely. So since you will not attend, but have wrecked yourselves in greater wickedness…your sufferings will therefore be more grievous than the former…
(The above is an excerpt: St. John Chrysostom. Homily XLI on Matthew XII, 1, 2 B#54, pp. 364-365.)
“Wherefore our Lord Jesus has said: He who gathers not with me scatters abroad.” St. Seraphim pf Sarov. A Conversation with Nicholas Motovilov Concerning the Aim of the Christian Life. Ed. By George P. Fedotov. B#26, p.267.