The 17th verse of St. Luke's 11th Chapter from today's gospel reading, may well be directed to our times.
Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.
A starting question: can you recall any time in the last fifty years when we have been witnesses of so much division and dissension in our society? There are not just a few obstructions to a smooth, flowing societal experience, to a smooth, flowing faith experience, to a smooth flowing familial experience. It seems that the current decade is like a river whose passage is challenged by many rocks that disrupt the smooth flowing course nature has given it.
In our own American history, were it not for men like our founding fathers, who, by the way, had serious differences in political and social thoughts, the great American Experiment would have failed. It was their ability to work for unity, despite differences, that brought peace to the land.
The human heart is witness to the demons that exist in families, in faith practices and in society at large. Surely Jesus came to redeem us, to save us from our sinful ways. Likewise his mission was and continues to be the reconciliation of communities and individuals. Perhaps we can attribute it to our pre-existing condition, Original Sin, but there seems to be built into the human heart impulses that can so easily turn to alienation from one person, or one community, or one nation.
Yesterday's reading reminded us that Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets. These great figures of Old Testament history knew the human heart. They reminded their people that they evil emotions could easily bring about destruction. Their message was "repent and and bring about peace and justice. Through the grace of God the prophets called out the evils that were destroying the people. At the same time, however, they spoke words that reminded the people of God's promise to be with them through all difficulties, all their challenges.
During the season of Lent we are offered the opportunity to recognize the dangers impulses that sometimes take over the human heart. We are reminded during these days that Jesus came among us to teach unity and peace. We might consider this today: What have I done to bring about peace where there is not peace in my personal relationships, in my Church, in my society? Do I harbor heartfelt emotions of division?
If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
(Ps. 95: 7b-8a)