Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Abuses in Worship “…’Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in the ways I command you and you shall prosper.’…”
A Call to Praise and Obedience “…For this is our God, whose people we are...”
Jesus and Beelzebul “…But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you…”
On different occasions when reading God’s Word, I’ve had this awareness of a strong personal connection to the people whose stories are being told in the readings. The connection I think came as I placed my trust that I was listening to my God in the readings, who was “their” God, and so He is “our” God. I shared with them in listening to the instruction, and somehow the connection as family was made. These people were my relatives in the sense they had gone before me. I was sitting and learning about their day-to-day life, a life filled with moments of glory and moments of sadness.
I felt this connection to the people while reading today’s passages in both Jeremiah’s and Luke’s writings. I found myself relating to the actions of these people from so long ago, I too had wronged my neighbor and then went on about relating to God as if nothing had happened, walking into Mass saying, “Hi Lord, aren’t you glad to see me? I’m really glad to be here.”
Earlier in this 7th chapter of Jeremiah, the Lord asks all the people who enter the temple to worship the Lord, to reform their ways and their deeds, and then he lists some of the reform for which He is calling: “if each of you deals justly with his neighbor; if you no longer oppress the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place, or follow strange gods to your own harm, will I remain with you in this place…” (Jeremiah 7:5-7) And further on, “Are you to steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal, go after strange gods that you know not, and yet come to stand before me in this house which bears my name, and say: “We are safe; we can commit all these abominations again?” (Jeremiah 7:9-10)
Then in today’s readings, starting with the 23rd verse of this chapter we hear our Lord say, “Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper.” (Jeremiah 7:23) This was the simple instruction He had given their ancestors when they were led out of Egypt. In our terms God shows His frustration, when He goes on to say to them (and to us), but you “obeyed not.” The Lord says we’ve turned our backs, stiffened our necks, and done worse than our fathers (in obeying Him). And finally here in Jeremiah, the 28th verse, God tells us through Jeremiah, “…this is the nation which does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the Word itself is banished from their speech.” During Lent the Church is reminding us to check our slate for all the ways we are not listening to God. To come forward and be reconciled, so that we may come to His House and worship the Lord having done all the things He’s asked of us first.
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus has just driven out a demon from a man who was mute, and the man begins speaking. Some in the crowd are amazed and some of the people ask Him if He has done this by the power of Beelzebul, and some ask Him for a sign from heaven. I would be standing in this last group, for I always seem to need proof. Jesus reasons that the devil wouldn’t be expelling the devil out of this man. He talks to them about kingdoms falling if they are divided using this example of Satan expelling Satan. And then He tells them the kingdom of God is upon them, since it is the finger of God that has driven out the evil one. Jesus goes on to say “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Luke 11:23) I see myself in so many of today’s lessons.
We want to be obedient Lord, but sometimes we are so distracted from hearing your voice. We thank you for this time during Lent, where some of our TV’s are turned off, and we have tried to quiet our lives of other distractions so that we might hear your call to be reconciled, and thus be able to follow You in your ways. We pray for the wisdom to know should the kingdom of God be upon us. Amen.
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