Reading (2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10) Gospel (St. Mark 3:22-30)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord tells us that any kingdom divided against itself cannot stand and any house divided against itself cannot stand. Now in the context, of course, He is talking about the kingdom of Satan. He says, How can Satan drive out Satan? The devil obviously is not going to do that. But the devil will sometimes play a little game and have people do things like go to psychics and palm readers and so on, who claim they will be able to help the person get rid of whatever their spiritual problem happens to be. They call on a stronger demon to get rid of a lesser one. For a few moments, even perhaps for a few weeks, it seems that the person is better; then the problem gets worse. The reason the problem gets worse is because they called upon a stronger demon. So then the person goes back and they call on something even stronger. They play this little game, but you see that obviously the devil is not going to drive out the devil. It is just a little game they play, and the psychics become very wealthy doing it. They know exactly what they are doing.
It is a mortal sin to go to a psychic in the first place, and if you do, you have to understand who they are calling on. It is not God. If we went to one of them, we would be a house divided. We would be claiming faith in Jesus Christ and then seeking something outside of Him. Unfortunately, there are lots of Catholics who are doing exactly that these days. They are looking to all kinds of things to gain knowledge, to gain power, to gain whatever they think they want. These are mortal sins. Going to tarot card readers, going to psychics, going to palm readers, all of these things are mortal sins.
But all we have to do is look even at something that is less obvious. The Catholic Church is the kingdom of God in this world, and each one of us is a member of the household of God, Saint Paul tells us. Each one of us individually is a temple of the Holy Spirit; each one of us is a house of God. Therefore, if we are members of Jesus Christ and we claim that we are followers of Jesus Christ, yet we believe things contrary to Jesus Christ, we are a house divided. The Lord is the truth. He has made that very clear. If we decide we do not want the truth, or that we are going to accept something that is contrary to the truth, then we are a house divided and that house cannot stand. It is not the kingdom of God that is going to crash, because God is all in all; therefore, as we become living members of the household of God, our interior division is not going to cause God’s house to crash, because He does not gain anything by us being part of His house. It is we who gain by being part of God’s house.
If we decide we do not want to believe some point of truth that the Church teaches, regardless of what it is, we are not Catholic. We can just go through the obvious list that people have trouble with: they do not want to believe in Purgatory these days; they do not want to believe in the Church’s teaching on contraception; they do not want to believe that they have to go to Confession; they do not want to believe that Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. On and on the list can go of all of the little things that they want to claim, “Oh, I’m Catholic, but…” No, you are not. If you put a “but” in there, you are no longer part of the household of God. You are a house divided. It is an all or nothing proposition. You either believe in Jesus Christ – meaning not the objective little statement: “I believe that Jesus is God” – or you do not. Remember what Saint James says, Even the demons believe and they tremble, so that is not enough. If we are going to say that we believe in Jesus Christ, that we are a member of Jesus Christ, and that we are a member of the household of God, it means we have to be obedient; it means we have to believe in every single thing that Jesus Christ teaches, in every single thing that He is, because He is the truth.
We are made for the truth and the truth will set us free. If we choose error over truth, not only are we a house divided, but instead of having the freedom of the children of God, we are now shackled in the enslavement of error – and ultimately enslaved to Satan. We need to recognize that our freedom is going to be in accepting and embracing the truth and living it. Not in being divided by saying, “Well, I know that’s what the Church teaches, but I don’t personally believe it.” If we say that, we have cut ourselves off from Christ, because the Church is Jesus Christ; and if we are not going to believe in what the Church teaches, then we do not believe in what Jesus Christ teaches. And if we do not believe in what He teaches, then we are no longer fully a part of Him. We are a house divided; and a house divided, He says, cannot stand. We are going to fall.
So we have a choice to make. Are we going to make ourselves entirely members of Jesus Christ? Or are we going to fall? The fall ultimately means that we will end up in hell, that we cut ourselves off from Christ. Obviously, that is not an option any of us wants, not only for ourselves but for anyone. But in this world, way too many people have decided that they can “play god,” that they will decide what is right and wrong, that they will decide what is true and false. We already have One Who is the truth, Who has presented the fullness of truth and is Himself the fullness of truth. If we are going to accept Jesus Christ and say that we believe in Him, then we must believe fully as members of His house, as members of His very person. Otherwise, we are a house divided against our own selves and we are a living lie, saying one thing but believing and living another. And a house divided against itself cannot stand.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.