March 16, 2023
by Mike Cherney
Creighton Univeristy - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday the Third Week of Lent
Lectionary: 240

Jeremiah 7:23-28
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Luke 11:14-23

Praying Lent Home

Returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Online Stations of the Cross

Remembering the Ashes

Cooking Lent

Today’s first reading from the Book of Jeremiah considers the response of the chosen people to calls for change. Although God has sent the prophets, the people continue to drift away. Today I can easily place myself in the role of the people that God and the prophets are addressing. It was soon struck by how much the message in this passage has a contemporary analogy in my life. I think of how I interact with the health professionals that I see. I am good at keeping appointments, but not at keeping the message. I think of how many times that I have been encouraged to use my CPAP machine and to change my patterns of diet and exercise. I know that the change needs to take place, but I can always find a reason why it is inconvenient for the healthy behaviors to start at this particular moment. I can find similar analogies to my spiritual development.

I recognized Psalm 95 as part of the Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. Previously I had tended to think of this as a call to praise, but in today’s context I perceive it as a call to listen.

The Gospel has Jesus healing a man unable to speak by driving out a demon. Some of the onlookers question by what authority Jesus does this. I find myself thinking how often I want to attribute unfortunate events that are out of my control to something beyond mere chance. I also notice how often thoughts of an evil force come to mind in this context. I am reminded how my imagination ran wild fifty years ago when I read the book “The Exorcist”. My sense is that I am not the only one wired to respond in this way as I recall the spiritual mayhem that movie adaption of this book brought to a good part of the general public. (I should add that for me the movie was sometimes tame in comparison with my own personal mental picture of the book’s events.) Returning to the text of today’s Gospel, I see an interesting lesson in the discernment of spirits. A conclusion that seemed so obvious to me required Jesus’ explanation for a number of members in the crowd.

I come back to the thought of hardened hearts for my prayer today.

Dear Lord,
I realize how poorly I listen.
I fall short in my response to guidance.
Perhaps my Lenten resolve needs a better direction.
Strengthen my will to listen and to respond appropriately to what I hear.
Help me to sustain a new attentiveness in my discernments.
Allow this to be a season in which I make progress in mind, body, and spirit.

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