27th March. Thursday in Week 3 of Lent
1) Jeremiah 7:23-28
(Jeremiah sees human life in terms of obedient response to God. Disobedience was the cause of their disasters.)
But this command I gave them, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.” Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward.
From the day that your ancestors came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day; yet they did not listen to me, or pay attention, but they stiffened their necks. They did worse than their ancestors did. So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. You shall say to them: This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.
Gospel: Luke 11:14-23
(Miracles of healing proved that Jesus acts with divine authority, and not, as his critics claimed, in league with the devil.)
Now he was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? — for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armour in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
Choosing what side to take
Both readings stress the stubbornness with which we can resist what God wishes us to learn. So often we see only what we wish to see, and refuse to pay heed to the voice of the Lord, urging and cajoling us to a better style of life.
As his opponents resisted Jesus, so, six centuries earlier, the people had rejected Jeremiah’s prophecies. In a generalised phrase the prophet describes an all-too-common human response to the word of God, “They did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward.” Our proper response should be one of firmer commitment to the saving message and example of Jesus. For as he says (according to Luke), “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
Choosing wisely and well is a central goal throughout Lent. Many a one will try to renew their fundamental life-choices during this time, renewing their commitment to the marriage, to parenting, to a consecrated religious life, and to making a difference for good, as we pass on our way through life.