The Hidden Division

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Tomorrow’s Gospel recounts Jesus healing a demon-possessed man, and while reading it I was struck by one word:

Us.

In the passage a demon screams out to Christ:

“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?”

How strange that this demon speaks not in the singular but in the plural? How odd that its identity is grounded not on unity but on dissonance?

We see the same mode of speech later on when Jesus heals another demon-possessed man in Gerasene. There the Lord asks, “What is your name?” and the demon replies:

“My name is Legion for we are many.”

In both cases, this plural language reveals an important fact: all evil is based on division. Demonic forces take a man, whole and complete, and rip him apart, dividing him into discord. The very etymology of the word “diabolical” confirms this. According to Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the word comes from two Greek words, “dia” and “ballein”, which together can mean “to tear apart” or “to scatter”.

The demon-possessed man in tomorrow’s Gospel stands torn between a life of goodness and a life of evil. Much like us, his will is scattered, tugging and pulling him in many different directions. We want to be temperate, but our appetite screams for food. We want to be chaste, but our bodies seem programmed to lust. We want to pray deeply, but our scattered minds fight against it.

This disparate evil, this Diablo, is ordered toward chaos. But as the passage shows, God wants the opposite. He wants us to be saints. And a saint, like Christ’s friend Mary, is someone focused on “the one thing necessary.”

Jesus therefore refuses to acknowledge the demon’s split identity. He treats him as an individual and in doing so unifies all his fragmented passions:

“[Jesus] rebuked it, saying, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’”

In this passage, we recognize Jesus the Great Unifier who fights congruity and battles against all that scatters and divides. He’s the Gatherer of the nations, the Shepherd of one flock, the Head of one body, who binds our disordered passions and heals all demonic division.

Be free, He says, of all that separates. Be free of all that tugs you in multiple directions. Be free of the discord that characterizes all evil.

Then you will be whole. Then you will be ordered toward the One Thing necessary. Then you will be a saint.
(Image credit: CCC Choir Notes)

Brandon Vogt

Brandon Vogt

Brandon Vogt is a Catholic writer and speaker who blogs at BrandonVogt.com. He's also the author of The Church and Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet and the top hit on Google for "greatest evil in the world".

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10 thoughts on “The Hidden Division”

  1. Pingback: The Hidden Division | BrandonVogt.com

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    Thanks, Brandon.
    This reminds me of the following passages:
    Matthew 23:37 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone them that are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered together your children, as the hen does gather her chickens under her wings, and you would not?
    John 17:21 That they all may be one, as you, Father, in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me.
    Luke 22:31 And the Lord said: Simon, Simon, behold Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and you, being once converted, confirm your brethren.

    One bread, one body, one flock, one shepherd, one baptism, ONE CHURCH.

    John 21:11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of great fishes, one hundred and fifty-three. And although there were so many, the net was not broken.

    Division does not create growth, but chaos, dissonance, a cacophony. Christ will unite the faithful through His One and Only Church, the Catholic Church; like it or not.

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    Regarding what Brandon wrote about the Christian feeling as if he were caught in a great tug of war, both externally real and certainly internally real, the following advice from heaven shows us how to get out of that tiresome and wearying position:

    “…even if
    the things of God are not always agreeable to
    us, still we must not wish for what is contrary
    to them, however delightful it may seem to us,
    for without doubt it would poison our souls.
    We should rather rid ourselves of the disgust
    we feel for religion, and then, when the appetites
    of our soul are healthy, we shall feel a right
    and pleasant relish for the food God gives His
    children.

    To work slothfully and tepidly in God’s
    service will cause you to lead so unhappy a life
    that you will be forced to change your ways.
    Besides, such a life is disloyal to our Saviour
    Who laboured with such ardent love to redeem
    us, and so willingly took up the cross that His
    love for us exceeded His suffering. The tepid
    soul cannot enjoy the world s pleasures, having
    given them up in the desire of doing right, and
    yet, for want of fervour, it does not find
    happiness in God. In this way such a soul
    is placed between two opposites, each of which
    is a torment to it; it suffers such severe afflic
    tions that at last it leaves the right road, and
    with miserable fatuity seeks the flesh-pots of
    the Egypt it had left, because it cannot endure
    the hardships of the desert. Compare the
    trouble that is undergone by one who serves
    God diligently and fervently, with that which
    the tepid soul suffers through sloth, and you
    will find that the burden borne by tepidity is
    a thousand times the heavier. It is indeed
    wonderful that vigils, prayer, fasting, mortifica
    tion and other works undertaken for our Lord
    should bring more pleasure to fervent souls
    than the tepid find in all their feasts, and riches,
    and other indulgences. The lukewarm Christian
    appears gay, but grief gnaws at his heart: while
    the just man, though his life be one of penance,
    has happiness within his soul.”

    –Blessed John of Avila

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