Meditation for Thursday of the 3rd Week of Lent

First Reading: Jeremiah 7:23-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Gospel: Luke 11:14-23

"If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts."  Yet this is what so many of us do – we react, sometimes almost violently, when we hear something that conflicts with a long-ingrained habit or pattern of our behavior.  We fight it tooth-and-nail, as the demons fight to stay in a possessed body, because it means a big upheaval in our lives, or it means giving up something that we have been duped into believing gives us the greatest pleasure possible.  (That "pleasure" can be from drugs or sex, but it can also be the "pleasure" of procrastination, living for the moment, or exercising our will over someone else’s.)  This is especially difficult when what we are giving up is not necessarily a bad thing.  An example would be the fast of Ash Wednesday.  Some of us, when we hear the Lenten fast is coming, go out and do the exact opposite – Mardi Gras becomes a "last fling" with food.

Other times, we may not harden our hearts as forcefully as Pharaoh did, in outright denial – sometimes our hearts are hardened by our brain’s rationalizations.  "Yeah, the Bible says that I should do this and not that, but it doesn’t really hurt anybody."  We realize that it may be wrong what we’re doing (or not 100% right), but under the circumstances (i.e., the situation we set up in our minds), it’s not that wrong.  And, after all, doesn’t everything work out right in the end anyway?  Well, yes and no – yes, it works out right as God’s will is always (eventually) done, but it may not include us anymore.  "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." (Rev 3:16)

So, are we in God’s Kingdom, or are we hindering its progress by our lack of help?  If we are not helping the Kingdom of God, we are hurting it, thereby making ourselves enemies of the Kingdom by dividing it.  God’s Kingdom will stand the test of time, but will we still be in it?

Let us not stand in God’s way, but rather kneel before Him.  Let us not tempt or test God, but rather be taught by Him.  Let us be willing to let the Lord shepherd us in the way He wants us to go, instead of going where we want and asking Him to be there in case we trip and fall.


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