Thursday of the Third Week of Lent
(Jeremiah 7:23-28; Luke 11:14-23)
Almost twenty-five years ago Pope St. John Paul II proclaimed a “New Evangelization.” He said that it would be directed not only to the nations where Jesus is unknown and to Christians who have lost a living sense of their faith. It would also go out to those who practice the faith! All people -- good and bad alike -- need to hear God’s call to reform. Taking His word into account, many who have thought of themselves as good will have to make a new appraisal. Both Scripture readings today focus on this last group.
In the first reading Jeremiah laments the reality of his day. The people of Jerusalem are paying lip service to God. They may go to the temple, but they do not practice love of God and neighbor that the law tries to instill. In the gospel Jesus shows compassion when he enables a mute man to speak. The people around him, however, refuse to acknowledge that Jesus’ power comes from God. They say to the contrary that he heals because he is in league with the devil. The passage ends with Jesus condemning those who deny his goodness. “…whoever does not gather with me,’” he says, “’scatters.’”
During the season of Lent, especially, we are being called to a true examination and conviction of self. We may not be the biggest sinners, most of us at least, but we do gossip and curse others (while driving). We fail to see the sufferings others undergo and often exaggerate our own challenges. There is plenty of room for improvement which must be made if we are to experience eternal life.