Gospel: Lk 11:14-23
Jesus was driving out a demon, which was mute. When the demon had been driven out, the mute person could speak, and the people were amazed. Yet some of them said, “He drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the chief of the demons.“ Others wanted to put him to the test, by asking him for a heavenly sign.
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, “Every nation divided by civil war is on the road to ruin, and will fall. If Satan also is divided, his empire is coming to an end. How can you say that I drive out demons by calling upon Beelzebul? If I drive them out by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive out demons? They will be your judges, then.
“But if I drive out demons by the finger of God; would not this mean that the kingdom of God has come upon you? As long as a man, strong and well armed, guards his house, his goods are safe. But when a stronger man attacks and overcomes him, the challenger takes away all the weapons he relied on, and disposes of his spoils.
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me, scatters.“
The principal 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.