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Thursday, third week of Lent

March 3, 2005

Blessed St. Katherine Drexel’s Day! (look for her story in a neighboring post)

Today we pass the halfway point between Ash Wednesday and Easter. How are you doing on the journey?

Jeremiah 7:23-28 (God’s people are rebellious)
Psalm 95:1-9 “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts”
+Luke 11:14-23 (those who aren’t for Jesus are against Him)

Yesterday we heard Moses pleading with his people to follow God’s law, to learn how to live in God’s sacred order, giving evidence of their wisdom, intelligence and justice. Today, God laments to Jeremiah that Moses’ plea was in vain. The Israelites had persisted in sin despite the warnings and pleadings of prophet after prophet. They won’t listen to Jeremiah either, but God sends him anyway. Even when the students refuse to learn, their Teacher continues to offer them the opportunity. God doesn’t give up on us when we’re dense, or even rebellious, and He expects us to extend the same favor to those around us.

Jesus was having trouble getting through to His “students” too. Troublemakers in the crowd, who wanted to discredit Him, tried to get Him to perform signs for them. They weren’t satisfied when He cast out demons. In fact, they gave the credit for that to the devil rather than to God. “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons” (Luke 11:15). Jesus corrected them on two counts. First, if the devil is fighting himself, his kingdom can’t last. Second, Jesus isn’t the only one casting out demons. “If I, then drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore, they will be your judges” (Luke 11:19). He goes on to clarify what’s really happening. Jesus, who is stronger than the devil, has overcome the devil, taken away the armor on which the devil relied (deception), and is plundering his spoils (the souls he’s held captive).

Jesus goes on to issue this challenge: “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Luke 11:23). There’s no middle ground. If we don’t follow Jesus we’re putting ourselves in the devil’s camp. If we don’t gather within the unity of His Church, we scatter to the four winds outside of Her. Do we really want to follow the loser and share his fate?

May our lives bear witness to our daily choice to gather with our Teacher, and to learn from Him in holy humility.

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