There’s No Such Thing as Neutral

First Reading: Joel 1:13-15;2:1-2

Gird yourselves and weep, O priests!
wail, O ministers of the altar!
Come, spend the night in sackcloth,
O ministers of my God!
The house of your God is deprived
of offering and libation.
Proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the elders,
all who dwell in the land,
Into the house of the LORD, your God,
and cry to the LORD!

Alas, the day!
for near is the day of the LORD,
and it comes as ruin from the Almighty.

Blow the trumpet in Zion,
sound the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all who dwell in the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming;
Yes, it is near, a day of darkness and of gloom,
a day of clouds and somberness!
Like dawn spreading over the mountains,
a people numerous and mighty!
Their like has not been from of old,
nor will it be after them,
even to the years of distant generations.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 9:2-3, 6 AND 16, 8-9

R. (9) The Lord will judge the world with justice.

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart;
I will declare all your wondrous deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, Most High.

R. The Lord will judge the world with justice.

You rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
their name you blotted out forever and ever.
The nations are sunk in the pit they have made;
in the snare they set, their foot is caught.

R. The Lord will judge the world with justice.

But the LORD sits enthroned forever;
he has set up his throne for judgment.
He judges the world with justice;
he governs the peoples with equity.

R. The Lord will judge the world with justice.

Gospel: Luke 11:15-26

When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said:
“By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons.”
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone,
it roams through arid regions searching for rest
but, finding none, it says,
‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’
But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits
more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there,
and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.”


oct 9

Do you ever feel like you’ve come to a standstill in your spiritual life? You’re not backsliding or falling into major sin, but you’re not moving forward either. You’re just staying the same.

I had an instance very recently where I felt this way. I didn’t think that the things I was doing, the way I was choosing to spend my time, the shows I was watching, the conversations I was having, were harming my spiritual life.

But I also knew they weren’t bringing me any closer to God. It was a trip to the confessional that woke me up to the reality that in the Christian life there’s no such thing as neutral. You are either progressing or regressing, and each day you need to decide which it’s going to be.

Today’s Gospel reminds us of the same thing. In Luke chapter 11:23 Jesus says, “Whoever is not with me is against me.” We are given two options with no middle ground. We must decide who we are standing with. Because ultimately, either we are with Christ or choosing the path toward the Devil.

Jesus also draws the illustration of the demon who is driven out, but then brings back more demons to fill the same person again. We can clean up our spiritual houses and put things in order, but if we are not constantly filling ourselves up with the things of God then we leave room for the enemy to take a foothold.

My dear sisters, this Christian life we are called to requires constant vigilance and demands our undivided hearts and minds. That TV show, that set of friends, or that habit you can’t seem to kick, may not seem that bad, but if it’s not drawing you to the things of Christ, then little by little it’s chipping away at His place in your heart.

It may be hard to get rid of these things, but no one said following Jesus was going to be easy. In fact, Jesus himself warned us it’s going to be hard when he said “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Every day we must choose to follow Jesus, again. The result is a relationship with Him that is alive and thriving, and that makes all the sacrifice worth it.

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 Lord, help me always make room for you in my life. Fill me up with the things of you.

Anna Coyne is a wife, mother, knitter, gardener, and convert to the Catholic faith.  Read more about her here.

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