A Note From Father Eickhoff

June 9, 2024

Today’s Gospel reading includes these lines:

But 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.

 I have to admit that I have always struggled to understand this particular Gospel passage. That is until I read a passage written by St. Augustine in which he explains it as Jesus restraining the devil in order to rescue the human souls held in captivity. Perhaps my difficultly in understanding this passage came from not being able to imagine Jesus as “plundering” anyone, even the devil. After all, the word “plundering” brings up mental images such as thieves and pirates stealing from the innocent. Actions that are the direct opposite of what Christ commands us to do.

Still, this image of “plundering” does fit what Jesus Christ has done for the human race by taking back those souls held by the devil and granting them a place in the Kingdom of God. It is comforting to imagine Jesus utterly defeating the devil – who is to us humans a being of terrible power and strength – on our behalf. You can, if you wish, imagine Jesus using some cool martial arts moves on the devil in order to defeat him and rescue us. Sort of like action scenes in a movie with lots of CGI special effects. I prefer thinking of Jesus restraining the devil with just a word and a glance, but to each his own. The end result is the same. The devil beaten and souls taken back by God and restored to glory.

And that is indeed the end result of the line taken from the Gospel today. Human souls – trapped by their sins and disobedience toward God – are rescued by our God, restored to the glory that was theirs before sin and disobedience, and placed with God forever.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Stephen Eickhoff