(Lk 11, 14-23)
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute,
and when the demon had gone out,
the mute man spoke and the crowds were amazed.
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?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”
The principle complaint of Yahweh about his people in the Old Testament was that they were a “stiff-necked” people. There are three things that characterized the “stiff-neckedness” of Israel: (1) they had amnesia, they tended to forget the works of the Lord, (2) they persisted in their evil ways despite frequent admonition from the prophets, (3) even when being corrected they remained obstinate. In other words, they did not listen to Yahweh.
Thus, “Listen”, is the fundamental command of the Lord. Israel had the great privilege of having the 10 commandments to guide them. Yet despite the clear guidelines the Lord had given them they repeatedly disobeyed the Law. Time and again prophets came; but all to no avail. They were indeed a “stiff-necked” people.
May we not become “stiff-necked” people. May we instead repent of our evil ways, remember the mercies of the Lord, turn to the Lord in penance, mend our ways. This season of Lent is the time to “turn our necks to the Lord” in humble penance and trust in Divine mercy.
Fr. Paulson V. Veliyannoor, CMF