Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Lectionary: 240


Some of them said, "By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons."
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?

Today’s gospel describes Jesus’ opponents in a desperate situation. Confronted with his undeniable authority over demons and his transparent goodness they resort to bald faced lies. Their followers must then make their own decisions: will we follow our recognized, accepted leaders despite their obvious confusion and blatant dishonesty, or will we accept an unknown rabbi from Galilee?
Jesus’ argument is persuasive, a divided kingdom cannot stand. Once his opponents are discovered telling lies to cover their incompetence and obtuseness they are obviously cashing out their last credibility. Worse, the entire nation and society is threatened. A society cannot long endure contrary truths.
We saw the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late seventies and eighties. The Communist Party had maintained a fictitious authority for seventy years, continually digging themselves deeper into falsehood. Their promises were rarely fulfilled; their hopes often disappointed. Communism was, as the Catholic Church had taught in the 19th century, a bad idea. It counted on the generosity of too many people, and dismissed the doctrine of Original Sin. 

The vast majority of people only want to get along and are willing to overlook a certain amount of nonsense. They understand that leaders are only human and, like everyone else, make false promises. But eventually even the forbearance of the vast majority cannot lubricate a broken system; it must grind to a noisy stop.
The world dodged a bullet when the Soviet Union collapsed. They had the nuclear weapons to destroy the world and did not.
Today we watch with horror as the president of the United States tells bald faced lies for no apparent reason. He does it habitually and impulsively, even when – as in his accusing President Obama of wiretapping his phones – his accusation means that some investigators and at least one judge thought he, Mr. Trump, might be committing treasonous acts.
At least as distressing is the behavior of his staff and party who fail to name his lies for what they are. Some called for congressional action to investigate something that never happened and never could happen!
A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. People might ask, "Will the United States also choose not to destroy the Earth before it comes apart?" We have far and away the most dangerous military on Earth. 
No one knows where this will end but Christians should certainly begin to flood the churches and pray, “Spare us, O Lord. Spare your people, be not angry with us forever.” Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo: ne in aeternum irascaris nobis.


P.S. On this day, in 1993, I was hit by a truck. I am grateful that God spared my life, and to everyone who prayed me through that adventure.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

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