Father Koch: Sin is a real and present danger

June 7, 2024 at 12:38 p.m.
Silhouette of girl praying over beautiful sky background. Christian Religion concept background. fighting and victory for god
Silhouette of girl praying over beautiful sky background. Christian Religion concept background. fighting and victory for god (Photo from Freepik.com)


Gospel reflection for June 9, 2024

The propensity to sin is deep within us, emerging from the very earliest moments of our lives.

While the culpability for sin isn’t fully operational until the age of discretion, we can see that desire to be defiant, unforgiving, and even vicious bordering on evil in very young children. We often dismiss such behaviors as psychological or behavioral in nature, but there lies within them a deeper spiritual reality. A conversation about Satan, sin, demonic possession and the dangers that come with a lack of remorse and repentance seems old-fashioned or passe for some, but the reality runs much, much deeper.

The event in the life of Jesus that we hear this Sunday is startling in many ways. Jesus has been about performing miracles and proclaiming the immanence of the Kingdom of God. he has been stirring up messianic fervor among the crowds and grabbing the attention of the scribes from Jerusalem. We see that even his family has come to bring him home as things seem to be getting out of control. Mark even includes a qualifier that even they felt that “he was out of his mind.”

While Jesus’s family might have thought that he had lost a grasp on reality, the scribes take this to another level. They accuse Jesus of either deceiving the people through the use of magic and trickery, or being overcome by Beelzubel. One of the accusations against Jesus, and subsequently of his disciples, by their Jesus opponents, is the use of magic to trick the people into believing that they were performing miracles. There were indeed deceivers and deceptive faith healers and miracle workers present in the ancient world, just as there are today, and their wily ways were well known.

The scribes are blinded by their inability to recognize the works of God in ways that do not fit into their modes of understanding and expectation. They limit, unintentionally, the limitless of God. If asked if God could do all things -- what the scholastic theologians came to call omnipotence -- the answer would most certainly be affirmative.

The problem comes from the doer -- the one who acts in the name of God. Jesus has drawn the attention of the scribes from Jerusalem. They cannot connect his teaching to the miracles that he has performed. The teaching of Jesus to this point in the Gospel has been heavily eschatological. He has preached the coming of the Kingdom of God and what appears to be a restoration of the Davidic line, hence some form of messianism. He has shown what is a clear overreach when he tells those whom he has healed that their sins are forgiven. God alone forgives sins through the formal rituals of sacrifice performed by the priests at the Temple. No human being has this power, it belongs to God alone. Jesus appears to be preaching in opposition, then, to the body of the ancient Jewish tradition.

In particular they are confused by his ability to perform exorcisms. By what authority does Jesus expel demons? In their minds there is only one explanation for the actions of Jesus: either it is a sham and he is tricking people or he is working by the power of Satan himself. It cannot be any other way.

Jesus challenges them very clearly: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him.”

Jesus silences his opponents, and from here on he begins to teach in parables.

Jesus points out the sin of his opponents -- one that remains a very clear dangerous sin today -- and that is to accuse Jesus and subsequently his disciples, of acting in the name of Satan. Instead of seeing the work of God and praising him, the scribes were willing to believe that Satan engaged in good works in order to lead people astray.

Now we see this same sin at work in the world. Rejection of the works of God in favor of the works of Satan, done in ways that confuse good and evil has become normative. It is a sin that we must be on guard against, for it is the one sin that can lead someone down a road of destruction.

Father Garry Koch is pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel.


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Gospel reflection for June 9, 2024

The propensity to sin is deep within us, emerging from the very earliest moments of our lives.

While the culpability for sin isn’t fully operational until the age of discretion, we can see that desire to be defiant, unforgiving, and even vicious bordering on evil in very young children. We often dismiss such behaviors as psychological or behavioral in nature, but there lies within them a deeper spiritual reality. A conversation about Satan, sin, demonic possession and the dangers that come with a lack of remorse and repentance seems old-fashioned or passe for some, but the reality runs much, much deeper.

The event in the life of Jesus that we hear this Sunday is startling in many ways. Jesus has been about performing miracles and proclaiming the immanence of the Kingdom of God. he has been stirring up messianic fervor among the crowds and grabbing the attention of the scribes from Jerusalem. We see that even his family has come to bring him home as things seem to be getting out of control. Mark even includes a qualifier that even they felt that “he was out of his mind.”

While Jesus’s family might have thought that he had lost a grasp on reality, the scribes take this to another level. They accuse Jesus of either deceiving the people through the use of magic and trickery, or being overcome by Beelzubel. One of the accusations against Jesus, and subsequently of his disciples, by their Jesus opponents, is the use of magic to trick the people into believing that they were performing miracles. There were indeed deceivers and deceptive faith healers and miracle workers present in the ancient world, just as there are today, and their wily ways were well known.

The scribes are blinded by their inability to recognize the works of God in ways that do not fit into their modes of understanding and expectation. They limit, unintentionally, the limitless of God. If asked if God could do all things -- what the scholastic theologians came to call omnipotence -- the answer would most certainly be affirmative.

The problem comes from the doer -- the one who acts in the name of God. Jesus has drawn the attention of the scribes from Jerusalem. They cannot connect his teaching to the miracles that he has performed. The teaching of Jesus to this point in the Gospel has been heavily eschatological. He has preached the coming of the Kingdom of God and what appears to be a restoration of the Davidic line, hence some form of messianism. He has shown what is a clear overreach when he tells those whom he has healed that their sins are forgiven. God alone forgives sins through the formal rituals of sacrifice performed by the priests at the Temple. No human being has this power, it belongs to God alone. Jesus appears to be preaching in opposition, then, to the body of the ancient Jewish tradition.

In particular they are confused by his ability to perform exorcisms. By what authority does Jesus expel demons? In their minds there is only one explanation for the actions of Jesus: either it is a sham and he is tricking people or he is working by the power of Satan himself. It cannot be any other way.

Jesus challenges them very clearly: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him.”

Jesus silences his opponents, and from here on he begins to teach in parables.

Jesus points out the sin of his opponents -- one that remains a very clear dangerous sin today -- and that is to accuse Jesus and subsequently his disciples, of acting in the name of Satan. Instead of seeing the work of God and praising him, the scribes were willing to believe that Satan engaged in good works in order to lead people astray.

Now we see this same sin at work in the world. Rejection of the works of God in favor of the works of Satan, done in ways that confuse good and evil has become normative. It is a sin that we must be on guard against, for it is the one sin that can lead someone down a road of destruction.

Father Garry Koch is pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel.

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