The Devil, Division, and Us

The Devil, Division, and Us June 7, 2024

Division is rampant in our world. When I read today’s Gospel, I feel that it speaks about a reality that we all face every day. The cultural and moral divisions that we experience in our daily lives give witness to the words of Jesus that a house divided cannot stand. We face division in our world, in our families, and within ourselves. A house divided against itself cannot stand, and if we are going to survive, we must learn how to foster unity.

Division in Society

We face so much division in our world. It is evident at a political level, but also at a social and cultural level. When I look at the various cultural debates, I always have an opinion, but there is something deeper that worries me even more. We no longer agree about basic facts, and we demonize the people we perceive as holding opposing viewpoints. Obviously, we should be standing for objective truth, but we also need to recognize the goodness of people even when they disagree with us.

The Devil is essentially the primary source of division and discord, and the fruits of his action are abundantly evident in our modern world. I long for a society in which this is not true, where we can disagree because we see things differently but where there is a fundamental level of trust that the other person is seeking what is good. It seems so easy to doubt that this is possible today.

Division within the Church and among different Christian Churches

openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature (Unitatis Redintegratio, 1).

The Devil always wants division, while Christ always wants unity, founded in truth.

Seeking Understanding

We foster unity when we do our best to understand the other person’s motives, rather than just writing them off because he or she disagrees with us. This requires listening, and the Devil does not want us to listen to one another. Listening leads to understanding, compassion, and unity. Even when we do not agree, by being receptive listeners we can find our way to understanding and compassion.

Just like the water wearing down the rocks, the Devil seeks destruction and division | Courtesy:

President Lincoln as a Model of Seeking Unity

President Lincoln cited this Gospel passage in one of his most remembered speeches: “A house divided cannot stand.” Speaking about the moral evil of slavery, he noted that the Union could not persevere while permitting such an abhorrent practice. In doing so, he spoke with great wisdom. There are some ideas that are so evil that they cannot be allowed to co-exist with truth.  However, we should always treat each other with charity and respect.

Family Division

We also face tremendous amounts of division in our families. The rise in divorce rates may come to mind as a proof of this for many of us. Yet, this is only one form of the division that our families face. So many families do not even have a basic set of shared values. This is one of the advantages of practicing the faith as a family; it gives a common language and a common set of principles that help us communicate with one another. Although we will have some disagreements of consequence, we will agree on what is most important when we have a family culture based on truth and common religious practice.

Division of Personal Sin

The division that Satan loves to foster most is division within our own selves. Sin is always a case of personal conflict. There is no temptation that we face that is not a sign of division and disunity. We know what is good, and yet we allow ourselves to be attracted to what is evil. When we give into sin, we know that we are giving into conflict, and in the process helping Satan to destroy us. A house divided cannot stand. The Devil tries to foster this battle within us, because by conquering our virtue, he conquers us. When we are divided among ourselves, we become easy prey to his wiles and tactics.

Jesus as our Hero

I like to consider how heroic Jesus is. He decides to stand between us and evil. He conquered death and through that conquered the Devil. It is easy for us to be afraid of the Devil. Yet, we can never forget that we have someone infinitely more powerful on our side. Jesus models to us that self-sacrifice is the way to overcome division.

Every factor of division can be transcended and overcome in the total gift of self for the sake of the Gospel. (Pope John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, 1).

If we want to truly overcome the evil of division in our world, in our families, and in ourselves, we need to call upon Christ and make him the cornerstone upon whom we build our lives. He is the source of unity that we need to overcome the temptations of the Devil to division and destruction.

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About Fr. Nicholas Sheehy, LC
Fr. Nicholas Sheehy was ordained a Catholic priest in 2013 for the Legionaries of Christ. He has been involved in youth work including missions, retreats and apostolic outreach in Germany, Italy, the United States and Central America. He is passionate about the New Evangelization and formation for young adults and married couples. He is a spiritual director and retreat director, offering marriage preparation and marriage counseling through the Divine Mercy Clinic and Family Center. He is currently Executive Director and Chaplain of the Newman Center at St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Pasadena, California. You can read more about the author here.
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