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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Keeping God's Word

Fr. Scott Haynes


A Meditation for the Third Sunday of Lent

Luke 11:14-28


At that time, Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb; and when He had cast out the devil, the dumb man spoke. And the crowds marveled. But some of them said, By Beelzebub, the prince of devils, He casts out devils. And others, to test Him, demanded from Him a sign from heaven. But He, seeing their thoughts, said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and house will fall upon house. If, then, Satan also is divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because you say that I cast out devils by Beelzebub. Now, if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When the strong man, fully armed, guards his courtyard, his property is undisturbed. But if a stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he will take away all his weapons that he relied upon, and will divide his spoils. He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he roams through waterless places in search of rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house which I left.’ And when he has come to it, he finds the place swept. Then he goes and takes seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse that the first. Now it came to pass as He was saying these things, that a certain woman from the crowd lifted up her voice and said to Him, Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts that nursed You. But He said, Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.



The Ven. Fulton Sheen once remarked:

“Never forget that there are only two philosophies to rule your life: the one of the cross, which starts with the fast and ends with the feast. The other of Satan, which starts with the feast and ends with the headache.”

We all like to feast. But who likes to fast? So we tend to approach Lent with trepidation, because it is hard to give up something you like. It is tough to deny yourself enjoyments and pleasures, or to practice self-control, especially when the world entices you to indulge yourself at every turn.  

 

At this Third Sunday of Lent we could take as a motto the words engraved on the tomb of the Franciscan Blessed Duns Scotus: Semel Sepúltus bis Mortuus, which means, “Died twice. Buried once.” Put in simple terms, like the saints, we must learn to die to ourselves, before death brings us to God. We must first learn how to die to our own selfish wills, our own sinful inclinations, our foolish desires, the stench of our pride and arrogance, before we can live fully for God.


To give us courage in our Lenten pilgrimage, the Church puts before us Mary as our model and guide.  In today’s Gospel a woman from the crowd praises Jesus’ Mother, saying: “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts that nursed You.”  She praises Mary in the physical order.


But Jesus improves the compliment to His Mother and praises her in the spiritual order, saying: “Yea, rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.” Jesus’ words ring true.  I ask you, who has kept the Word of God better than her?


The Virgin Mary is called by St. Augustine the “living mold of God.”  If we want to be good Christians we should try to fit in her mold, not only hearing the Word of God but keeping it with all our heart. When Michelangelo made his beautiful statues, he could make statues in two ways: (1) He could take a jagged block and chip away at it over years and years; or (2) He can make a cast of it in a mold. The first way is long and involved and is complicated. The second is much smoother and yields the most perfect result.


Mary is the great mold of God.  As Wordsworth said, she is “Our tainted nature’s solitary boast.” She was fashioned by the Holy Spirit to give Jesus His human nature by the hypostatic union.  And on the Cross, Jesus made her Mother of the Church and Mediatrix of all Grace, so that she could help all the baptized children experience the divine grace of God.


Everyone who allows himself to be molded by the Holy Spirit follows in Mary’s path.   This is how we more effectively be conformed to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  This is how it becomes possible to break habits of sin.


Like Mary we need to be rooted and grounded in God’s Holy Word.  St. Jerome firmly insists that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”  I ask you, how are we to keep God’s Word if we have not heard it, read it and studied it?


But most importantly we must be devoted to the Holy Eucharist, for here we behold the Word made Flesh.  If we live intensely Eucharistic lives with our heart tethered to the tabernacle, we will discover a intimacy with Jesus, a personal relationship with our Lord, that will intoxicate us with the love of God, and then we will gladly suffer anything for love of Jesus.


And so Pope St. Pius X once said:

“Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to heaven. There are others; innocence, but that is for little children; penance, but we are afraid of it; generous endurance of trials of life, but when they come we weep and ask to be spared. Once for all, beloved children, the surest, easiest, shortest way is by the Eucharist. It is so easy to approach the holy table, and there we taste the joys of Paradise.”

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