The Common Good

Today’s gospel is particularly relevant in a climate of war and divisive politics. In today’s gospel we find the people of Galilee trying to decide who Jesus is and the claims are clearly becoming divisive. There is a bit of a controversy going on where some think that Jesus has ‘Beelzebul in him’…. a name for Satan. The very idea seems alien to us since we have long since decided who Jesus is, but this was not the case for the people of the time who had observed Jesus performing all sorts of powerful signs and had to ask themselves where Jesus’ power came from. Was Jesus’ power from God or was it from the devil? We cannot blame them for asking this question.

Jesus deals with the controversy by giving us a lesson in the differences between the work of the devil and the work of God. The devil sets us up against each other in opposition. The devil tears down nations. The devil tears down households and families. The devil divides and scatters. God on the other hand helps us to work towards peace and unity. God forgives us our sins and  encourages us to forgive each other and to work together. Jesus’ work is not about division but about welcoming everyone to him whoever they might be. His power clearly does not flow from the devil.

So how can we apply this lesson two thousand years later? We open a newspaper or switch on the news. We watch our politicians and world leaders. We know that their job is to make the world a better place. We have to give them credit where they succeed but we have to be mindful of their shortcomings too. When leaders start to tear each other down and divide nations, we have to know that this is not God’s will. God’s will is to unify us so that we are working together towards a common good.

Today we need to look at the divisions in our world and ask how those divisions might be healed. Everyone on the planet is part of one human family. As Jesus says in today’s gospel, “Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.”