DAILY MASS READINGS (March 28, 2019)

THURSDAY OF THE 3RD WEEK OF LENT (CYCLE C, Violet)

Reading 1 (JEREMIAH 7:23-28)

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah

Thus says the LORD: 
This is what I commanded my people:
Listen to my voice;
then I will be your God and you shall be my people.
Walk in all the ways that I command you,
so that you may prosper.

But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed.
They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts
and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.
From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day,
I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets.
Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed;
they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.
When you speak all these words to them,
they will not listen to you either;
when you call to them, they will not answer you.
Say to them:
This is the nation that does not listen
to the voice of the LORD, its God,
or take correction.
Faithfulness has disappeared;
the word itself is banished from their speech.

– The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm (PSALM 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9)

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.


Verse Before The Gospel (JOEL 2:12-13)

(Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.)

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
for I am gracious and merciful.

(Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.)

Gospel (LUKE 11:14-23)

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke

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 Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection: We are now at the height of our Lenten journey. This means that we are getting closer to the commemoration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery on Holy Week. This Sunday’s liturgy invites us to rejoice because the celebration of the Mystery of Redemption shows how God loves us. And he continues to call sinners back to him and to embrace his loving plan of salvation. That is why on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), the Priest will wear Pink Vestments, the altar is decorated with flowers, and instrumental music is permitted.
In the Gospel (Luke 11:14-23), Jesus was driving out a mute and deaf demon out of a man. Some of the crowds were amazed at his power, but some claimed that he drives out demons by Beelzebul (Beelzebub). Still, others were curious and asked for him a sign from heaven. Finally, Jesus answers all their opinions. He tells them that it is God who gave him the power to expel demons. And this act prefigures of what he will accomplish in Jerusalem. He suffered, died on the Cross, and rose again from the dead in order that the power of sin may not fully prevail and overcome. No wonder in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, the film depicts that after Jesus’ death on the Cross, the Devil screams in defeat. This is true because Christ saved us all from sin. And he gave us the gift of freedom, which is doing good and avoiding evil. He wants us to follow the way of eternal life; thus, he continues to call sinners to conversion.
My dear brothers and sisters, we have gone halfway of our 40-day pilgrimage in this Season of penance. So as we journey down the height of this Lenten road, let us observe these practices and disciplines with sincerity and humility of heart, as we strive to combat the temptations that can lead us to commit sin. May we realize that the law of freedom is not only what we want, but also what pleases the favor of God. Let us prepare ourselves deeply and spiritually for the celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

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