Reflection for Thursday, March 30, 2000: 3rd week in Lent.
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Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
240. Year II, Lent.
240. Year II, Lent.
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Worship without Sincerity " ... In everything, follow the way that I mark out for you, and you shall prosper ... From the day your ancestors left Egypt until today, I have sent you all my servants the prophets, persistently sending them day after day. But they have not listened to me, have not paid attention; they have deliberately resisted, behaving worse than their ancestors."Invitation to Praise " ... Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as at the time of Massah in the desert, when your ancestors challenged me, put me to the test, and saw what I could do!"Jesus and Beelzebul " ... Anyone who is not with me is against me; and anyone who does not gather in with me throws away ... "We are about half way through the Lenten season, a time when many of us are using fasting and almsgiving to help remind us of the significance of Lent. Some people are doing works of charity, some of us are praying more and giving up our favorite food or activity and all of this is to make us more aware of our spiritual lives as we go through these 40+ days before Easter. At Easter we will remember and celebrate the greatest miracle when Christ, God made man, rose from the dead after having paid the price for our humanity. So, it is interesting that, just as many of us are getting tuned into our spiritual selves we find in today's readings the overall message, spoken rather bluntly, that human beings do NOT listen to God, or pay attention. "But they did not listen, they did not pay attention; they followed their own devices, their own stubborn and wicked inclinations, and got worse rather than better." (Jeremiah 7:24)How does God communicate with us? How many of us know when God is speaking so that we might listen? Some of us don't ask God for help to make even life-changing decisions, because we don't know how to listen for His answer. If only God could speak to us face to face the way we communicate with each other, wouldn't we listen better?When God sent His Son, Jesus to communicate face to face with us, we had trouble believing he was God, so we quit listening. In Luke's gospel today, Jesus is expelling a demon from a person who could not speak. When the demon is expelled the person begins to speak and the crowd is amazed. But some people begin to say that Jesus must have called on the devil to expel a demon. These people failed the face-to-face communication hearing from the mouth of God. Why do we fail to listen?In some ways, God uses the same avenues to speak to us, as does the "world" which manages to get through while using a host of subtleties. The "world" communicates to us through media and print, through entertainers and friends, through events, which shake and move us. We also have access to Catholic and Christian radio and television programs. For every one of these voices, there are 200 or more other voices vying for our attention, but none are more important. Look at the difference in press time, when Lady Diana passed away, vs. Mother Teresa's passing.Throughout the history of God trying to communicate with His creation, we have mostly not heard His voice. In the reading from Jeremiah 11:25-26, God is telling us in exasperation how to live by sending His servants the prophets to us day after day, unceasingly. The image of God being worn out by His pursuit of our attention presents a graphic message. His desperate appeal seems to say, what more can I do? And yet we ask, if you are sending us prophets everyday to inform us to make better choices, how is it we have not noticed these prophets? How is it that the message the world puts out can always be heard? Could it be that God is transmitting daily messages too and we don't hear them, feel them, even know they are out there?Today we hear your voice Lord. It is sad to think that we have missed so much before today. Through Lent's preparation we have heard your plea to listen. "My one command to them was this: Listen to my voice, then I will be your God and you shall be my people. In everything, follow the way that I mark out for you, and you shall prosper." (Jeremiah 7:23) If we take one trait out of this Holy season, let us continue to grow and become better listeners. Whatever preparation it took, that enabled us to listen, let us keep doing this exercise. Spread the word! It was good to listen to you today, God, help us to be better listeners.