Third Thursday of Lent

Readings: Jer 7: 23-28 / Ps 95: 1-2, 6-9 / Lk 11: 14-23

The words of the prophet Jeremiah, “I will be their God and they shall be my people” speak to us of God’s faithful love.   Our God is a relentless God, an “I am with you to the end” God.  But where are we in this relationship?   In our daily lives, we are often oblivious to this utterly faithful God. The word “stubborn” appears several times in the readings, a stubbornness born out of an inner resistance; a “hardness of heart.”   Our hearts can be harder than any rocks, Bonaventure wrote.   A rock-like heart cannot hear nor see nor feel the pain of another.  Jeremiah laments: “They did not listen; they did whatever their stubborn and evil hearts told them to do.”   Who is Jeremiah referring to?  Is it you and me?  Do we have “stubborn and evil hearts?”   If we are honest with ourselves then we must say, “yes,” at times we do have evil hearts.  We can be stubborn, hard, resentful and resistant to God’s Word.  We can become preoccupied and self-righteous, enwrapped in our egocentric lives.   Cut off from God we become entangled within ourselves, spiritually mute, weighed down by our inner hardness.   This hardness is the source of our evil spirits.  Evil is not something “out there” waiting to snatch us; it is what arises when we lose sight of God’s love.   It is what hardness can cause-- which is why Jesus says only the power of God can drive out evil, for God’s pure love embraces us unconditionally.  We are challenged to check our hearts and see what occupies them.  We are invited to recognize the power of God’s love in our lives and open our hearts to let this love in, lest we become the enemy of God and the whole world rises up against us.    

Ilia Delio, OSF
Theology and Religious Studies