People today cannot just disagree they feel they have to demonize their adversary as being in “league with Satan” as they caricature their stance. Often these ad hominem attacks reflect more the insecurity of the attacker or the flimsiness of their own position.
In today’s Gospel Jesus himself experienced these ad hominem attacks as His opponents tried literally to demonize him: “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Jesus had just performed an exorcism and healed someone by driving out a demon. His opponents could not deny that an exorcism had taken place so instead they try to turn something good into something bad. They argue that Jesus is in league with the devil and that is why He was able to drive out this demon or devil. Jesus tries to show them the folly of their position: “If Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand… If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out?” Jesus challenges them to recognize the good that he is doing: “But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
Sadly, we see these same ad hominem attacks not only in our political discourse but even in our religious discourse. People are quick to demonize others or even label them heretics without a full understanding of the issues and the teaching of the church. Jesus issues this stern warning to each of us: “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.” (Luke 6:37).
We see this same heated rhetoric in the discussion about the COVID Vaccine. Instead of acknowledging the good that these doctors and scientist are doing we see them attacked and demonized. Some have even labeled the vaccine as the work of Satan. It is important for us as Catholics to recognize the official teaching of the church as we recall the words of Pope Francis:
“Being vaccinated…is an act of love…Love for oneself, love for one’s family and friends, love for all people”.