Unity > Division
22 January 2018
Today’s Gospel leaves us with a challenge for the year ahead: a challenge of fighting division and seeking unity.
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”- Mark 3:24
The scribes accusations towards Jesus are scathing – while not denying that Jesus can cast out demons, their challenge lies in the source of His power. They claim that Jesus himself is possessed. The Gospel allows us to hear Jesus’ response to the scribes with the question “how can Satan drive out Satan?” To me, Jesus is saying ‘How can I be controlled by the very thing I am fighting against? How can darkness cast out darkness?’
The first understanding that we can take from this question relates to our communities. How can a community that is divided against itself stand?
How often do we experience hate over love, discouragement over encouragement, lies over truth in the communities that we belong? Think about your experience of school, work, and even family. Too often we tear each other down rather than build each other up. Why? One understanding is in pressures of the world, relentlessly demanding perfection of us. We are to aspire to become unrealistic ideals of perfection that none could ever achieve. As a result, our decisions can become influenced by these pressures, far too often at the expense of others. Have you experienced this? The gossip, cheating, lying fruits that intend to better oneself but weaken the human community. After all, when we are separated, we are divided from one another.
St Augustine of Hippo along with the most brilliant theologians of history see the second reason for this ‘why’ in ‘pride as the root of all sin.’ Pride pervades all evil within and throughout society. Beginning with the pride of the individual; the prompting of Eve to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, desiring to ‘be like God’ (Gen 3:5). This pride then pervaded the first community, with the involvement of Adam that caused their spiritual death.
Pride is an attitude of the heart, to see oneself as ‘higher’ than our reality. Pride can devastate our communities, but also ourselves. How often do you tear yourself down; physically, mentally, emotionally? How often do you tell yourself that you aren’t good enough? How often do you let pride shake you of acceptance, contentment, love?
You are good enough. Who is there to tell you otherwise? The only One that does matter, God, sees you as wonderful, beautiful, deserving of love. Just as a Kingdom divided cannot stand, a human who is divided simply cannot grow.
Where does this leave us? St John Chrysostom once said that just as pride is the root of all sin, so “humility is the root, mother, nurse, foundation, and bond of all virtue.” This year, may you see yourself and those around with a loving, humble heart. May you allow yourself to be loved by God and become a beacon of love that unifies a divided world.