Intention: For all who live in fear of violence, exploitation or abandonment, that people’s commitment to peace and justice will grow and help to end their suffering.
Today’s Gospel | Luke 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.”
A Lenten Reflection
In the process of growing from a child into an adult, loss of innocence usually comes with the first experience of deep disappointment. We discover that life is not what we believed it to be. Carefree confidence in the inevitability of perfect happiness is replaced with the earthquake of discovering that there really is no such thing. Loss of innocence puts us at an emotional and spiritual crossroads. We can sink into a state of anger and disillusionment, or we can move through the darkness into a place of better perspective and see the bigger picture of life’s ebb and flow.
To move past loss of innocence is to step back from life’s hard lessons and see their surprising opportunities. Moments that shatter naive notions of reality are often what move us to the mature understanding that we need in order to confidently and effectively engage our world. They bring us to that turning point when, as Saint Paul urges, we bid farewell to the child and welcome the adult. It is not so much that we abandon our sense of optimism and wonder as it is that we deepen their capacity to persevere and thrive under intense and demanding circumstances. Innocence is replaced by resilience.
Youth Minister Jayce O’Neal suggests that, “Cynicism is when a small mind and a hurt heart reject the hope, love, and truth of a big and caring God.” Doubt as a constant state of mind usually says more about what is wounded in us than it does about what is wounded in the world. Rather than replace our faith with our doubts, we must seek our faith within our doubts. Lent reminds us that the life of Christ was God’s choice to join us in the midst of brokenness and teach us how to find grace there. Now, we are called to walk the same path. Just as Jesus encountered and embraced the world with all of its joys and all of its pain, we must as well.
Eternal Father, many times in his ministry your Son met with misunderstanding and cynicism, even as he brought healing into people’s lives. Just as he conquered faithlessness in others, conquer in us the ways that we can harden ourselves to your presence and grace. Open us to new life, new hope, and new possibilities. Help us to embrace a vision of this world as you would have it, living as instruments of your compassion and justice for all, especially those most in need. In this time of Lent, may we turn away from our sinfulness and return ourselves humbly to you. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.