For me, the fifteen verses are quite long to practice the classic discipline of lectio divina—the meditative reading and re-reading of Scripture that comes from the monastic tradition. So I read through the text once, then settle on just the first eight verses. Even these seem difficult to me. What can God possibly say to me in these words about Satan, demons, and kingdom? They come from another culture, from another time, very different from my life today.
I pause for a moment of silence, then read the eight verses again. Jesus was so busy teaching and healing the crowds that he didn’t even have time to eat. His mother and siblings were so worried about him that they wanted him to stop. Others said he must be possessed by a demon.
To answer them, Jesus replies with a parable that Satan’s house could not be divided against itself. Hmm, I imagine that parable must have made more sense back then! But I think it means since Jesus is actively healing and casting out demons and returning people to health and wholeness—since he is actively working against Satan in these ways—he cannot be possessed by a demon. I read the text again, and reflect on the image of the divided house.
Sometimes I feel like a divided house myself—wanting one thing but doing the opposite, or wanting two different things that are mutually exclusive, sometimes working at cross purposes with myself. So if I really want to get a good night’s sleep, then why am I drinking coffee that keeps me up until 2 a.m. and wakes me up again just a few hours later at 6 a.m.? If I really want to live more simply, then why am I complicating my life with more and more things?
Lord, heal the divisions in our world and in my own heart. Grant me wisdom to hold on to what is good and to leave behind those things I need to leave behind. Bring the fragments of my life together, and make me whole.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: In its simplest form, lectio divina begins with a moment of silence, then a reflective reading of Scripture once, twice, three times, listening for God’s voice. What word or phrase draws your attention? How does it apply to your own life and circumstances? Try it yourself with the lectionary psalm for this week, Psalm 138.