10th Sunday in Ordinary Time | Year B

Posted on June 7, 2024 View all Gospel Reflection

General Douglas MacArthur wrote that there are 4 things necessary to win any battle.

One is strength–

We hear Mark 3:27 in our Gospel, “no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder the house.”

Jesus explains that Satan is the “strong man” whose house is being plundered by someone stronger, who is Jesus. Satan is bound though he still fights in opposition.1

I heard about a woman that went to a church potluck. When she walked in, a devout charismatic lady asked her, “What did you bring to eat?” She said, “Deviled eggs.” Well, immediately this woman flung her hands up high in the air and said, “I bind every one of them in the name of Jesus!”2

Supply- is also needed for success, like an army needs boots.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew words to be firm or stand firm, taut, well founded, established and foundation have to do with footing. Most people back then walked barefooted or in sandals. It was a big advancement for the Assyrians and Roman armies to wear combat boots. According to Isaiah 9:5 and Zechariah 10:5, the heavy nailed boot of the (Assyrian) army could be used for trampling down enemies.2

The Roman army preferred half-boots with cleats which let the toes show and breathe because that was better for long marches yet they could hold firm in battle.3

So when Ephesians 6:15 speaks of “your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.” It could literally be translated as “feet shod with the kind of shoe created for the Gospel of peace.” It is not a reference to Isaiah 52:7 about the feet of the one bringing good news rather it speaks of standing firm and resisting and not letting your feet be moved (Ps. 121:3) which is a military metaphor.4

Christian believers are earth-bound, but are protected by all the spiritual armor of Ephesians, Chapter 6: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, the Word of God. We have no time for self-pity. We are equipped to face them squarely, holding firm, in place.

Next, a successful army needs high morale–

In our First Reading, Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.”  

Enmity in Hebrew means hostility.

The passage was always understood as the first promise of a redeemer for fallen humankind.

Jesus strikes at Satan’s head, according to the best Hebrew manuscripts. St. Jerome in the Latin Vulgate used an older source: “She shall crush your head,” because the difference between he (hu) and she (hi) is the smallest letter (waw) of the Hebrew alphabet. Does this mean Mary is not the head-crusher? No. Just that she crushes the serpent’s head through her son.5

One exorcism prayer addresses Satan, “In your pride you still presume to be held equal [to God.”] In response, God sends Mary, in her humility, who gives birth to the head crusher of the devil, as seen in the Miraculous metal which has Mary standing on a globe crushing Satan’s head.  It’s done through Christ in her. She crushes his head with her immaculate foot.

The last element is knowledge of the enemy.

Some scholars say Beelzebub or Baal Zebub does not mean “The Lord of the flies,” it really means Baal Zebul, which means “Lord in high places.” It is first used in 2 Kings 1:2-16 to denote a foreign god. It has been reported by scholars that during the exorcisms of the time, certain exorcists did invoke Beelzebub’s name [to cast out lessor demons].6  Jesus says that this is absurd. “How is Satan able to drive out Satan”?6

Jesus’ source of power comes from the Holy Spirit. That is why he said, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”

They tried to stigmatize Jesus and they end up committing the unforgivable sin. The Catechism says there are no limits to the mercy of God and every sin can be forgiven except the person who deliberately refuses to accept the mercy offered through the Holy Spirit by repenting. (Catechism 1864).

We need all 4 elements.

In a painting called “The Torment of St Anthony” of the Desert, believed to be the first known painting by Michelangelo when he was 12 or 13 years old. It shows strange and evil-looking demons swirling around his head, and this painting was copied by Hieronymus Bosch, Max Ernst, Paul Cezanne, and Salvador Dali. [Wikipedia]

Similarly, St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, says that we shall see the devil at the time just before our death. This is also seen in the lives of various saints.

Catherine says, speaking of non-believers:

In the moment of death, as I told you, the Devil accuses them with great terror and darkness, showing his face, which you know is so horrible. The disordinate delights and sensuality made lords over their reason, accuses miserably. The Devil torments with infidelity in order to bring them to despair. Oh! how hard for them is this battle, because they find themselves disarmed.

That is why it is important to pray for contrition and sorrow for sin, for these are gifts, done in peace because of the forgiveness through the grace of Jesus Christ.

St. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:27, “Do not give place to the devil.”

Stand firm.

1.    Douglas L. Penney and Michael O. Wise, By the Power of Beelzebub: An Aramaic Incantation Formula from Qumran, p 614

2.    James Merritt, The Armor of God, Sermons.com

3, 4.  Anchor Bible Commentary

5. John Bergsma, The Word of God, Year B, Emmaus Road, Steubenville, Ohio, p 266

6. Douglas L. Penney, Michael O. Wise, By the Power of Beelzebub: An Aramaic Incantation Formula from Qumran, pp. 627-50