Scripture: 1st Reading: Jer7,23-28; Resp. Psalm: Ps95,1-2,6-9; Gosp. Accl.: Joel2,12-13; Gospel: Lk11,14-23
The word of God today invites us to reflect on the virtue of obedience to the voice of God. Our First Reading from Prophet Jeremiah recalls Yahweh's "frustration" at the disobedience of His people.
The word today teaches that obedience to the voice of Yahweh is not just for cosmetic purposes. It is not to subjugate us or cancel our freedom. For Yahweh and His people, obedience to His voice has one important implication: Yahweh will be their God and they shall be His people.
Obedience is to walk in the way that Yahweh commands His people. When they do this, a second consequence emerges: it shall be well with them. In other words, they would enjoy the unqualified presence of Yahweh that would bring about incredible blessings for them.
Disobedience leads to the hardening and stubbornness of heart, deafness to the voice and promptings of God. Disobedience leads to retrogression and lack of progress. Instead of moving forward, the disobedient soul relapses backwards.
Disobedience of the voice of the Lord also leads to the rejection of discipline. For the disobedient, truth and right thinking perish. The word of God is replete with examples of disobedience and the tragic consequences of turning the deaf ear to the voice of God.
The people who saw the signs and wonders that our Lord performed closed their hearts to the voice and promptings of God. They disobeyed the voice of the Lord calling them to assent of faith in His Son. Instead of acknowledging the power of God, they attributed the signs our Lord performed to Beelzebul, the prince of demons.
Our Lord used two analogies to demonstrate their inconsistencies and incoherence of thought. The first was that satan would not fight against himself. That would be tantamount to self destruction, akin to a kingdom that is divided against itself and that suffers implosion.
The second analogy that our Lord used was that if it was by the finger of God that He cast out devils, then the people should know clearly that the kingdom of God had come upon them. Finally, our Lord said that He could only do what He did because He was stronger than satan.
This is so because no matter how much a strong man guards his palace, it only takes a stronger person to come and sack hid palace and make a mockery of all the security arrangements he had made. When one is not for the Lord, that person is against Him. When one does not gather with Him, that person scatters.
When we disobey His voice or pay lip service to His commands, we put ourselves in opposition to Him. When we do this, we scatter and become irredeemably lost. This is why Lent calls us to return to the basics. Lent challenges us to listen and obey the voice of the Lord. Lent calls us to gather with the Lord. What are those things preventing us from attentive listening? What holds us back from gathering with the Lord?
Let us pray: "We implore your majesty most humbly, O Lord, that as the feast of our salvation draws ever closer, so we may press forward all the more eagerly towards the worthy celebration of the paschal mystery." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.