Thursday of the Third Week of Lent
(Jeremiah 7:23-28; Luke 11:14-23)
The elderly woman said that her grandchildren believe in God. She went on that they try to help others. But, she concluded, they see no reason to go to church. There is a parallel here with the challenge the people pose to Jesus in today’s gospel.
Jesus has just driven out a demon. The exorcism invites the people’s following him. Will they let go of their prejudices against the poor and strangers? Will they repent of their sins and grant forgiveness to others? To follow him means living in these ways. But the people refuse to change. Rather they try to refute Jesus. As the elderly woman’s grandchildren refuse to go to church, they say that Jesus can cast out demons because he is in league them. Then they demand a sign if he expects them to believe in him.
Jesus patiently responds with a three-fold argument. First, he says that in fact Satan is being defeated. This is something as beneficial as it is evident with the formerly mute man now speaking. Second, he bids his critics to compare him with other exorcists who work in God’s name. He is implying that his power to cast out demons comes from the same source as theirs. Finally, he proposes that they open their eyes to see what following him means. They will find through him all the blessings of the Kingdom of God.
It is incumbent upon us followers of Jesus to show people today that belief in God makes best sense when done with the Church. Further, we have to give evidence that their aspirations of goodness are best fulfilled under Church auspices. We accomplish the first task by contemplating the Word of God proclaimed in the liturgy and talking about it with others. We complete the second by living simply and sharing our bounty with the needy.