Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.
On this third Sunday of the season of Lent, Holy Mother Church lends to us propers which admonish and encourage us to keep custody of our senses. Indeed, the whole of this season carries with it this message for prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and penance all are a rejection of sensual deities which our hedonistic culture falls down to worship at the slightest pain or inconvenience. Too often Catholicism is seen as a rigid religion of laws and customs mandating a moral code of each of her members. While a moral code is certainly expected of every Christian, in fact every man, it is not only for our salvation but for our very freedom.
Behold as the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters.
Man does not have a choice of being a servant, but his choice lies in whom he will serve. A dichotomy which is rejected by our world but it nevertheless the very truth is that man either serves God or Satan. “But what about man serving himself?” some say. This however is still a service to Satan. For our Lord tells us in the gospel today, “He that is not with me is against me…” While Satan does wish to turn us toward himself, he is still satisfied to each of us away from God. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is no motto of our Lord, for many would claim to be against the powers of hell yet they unknowingly in word and deed fortify her inescapable walls and stand guard at her gnarly gates. Christ cast out the demon from the dumb man in today’s gospel, but says that many who have demons cast from them eventually welcome in more because they wish to serve their flesh but cannot reconciled this with serving their Creator. “You cannot serve God and mammon (Lk 16:13).”
Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house.
We have the choice to truly benefit ourselves by denying ourselves and serving in the hall of the King of kings. Who is most blessed amongst women? Who is the cause of our joy? Of course this is our Lady. The greatest joy felt by a human being is felt by our Blessed Lady. Why? Merely for corporeally bearing the Godhead? No! At the end of today’s gospel, Christ corrects a woman who speaks a truth. “[A] certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to Him: Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the paps that gave Thee suck. But He said: Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.” Only three chapters before this again, our Lord says, “My mother and my brethren are they who hear the word of God, and do it (Lk 8:21).” Christ is not denying the honor and veneration due His royal mother, rather he is explaining why it is due her. The context must be that the whole gospel, in particular this gospel of Luke so devoted to our Lady. She is the humble “handmaid of the Lord (Lk 1:38)” and the one who exhorts each of us to “do whatever He tells [us] (Jn 2:5).” To be joyful as she, we must serve as she does. She most perfectly hears the word of God and observes it.
His judgements are sweeter than honey…for Thy servant keepeth them.
It is in serving that we find true delight, yet this delight is not in the things of this world and not in our senses. Some overindulge in the things of the flesh which becomes intemperance, while others indulged in an intemperance of the intellect such as gossip which is ultimately pride. We must beseech our Lord to engrave upon us during this Lenten season an image of Himself which is “an oblation and sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness.” It is in conforming to Christ crucified that we find joy. It is in raising our arms to heaven upon our daily crosses, in gazing upon the hands of the Lord as servants, in speaking and thinking on things that are holy, in giving thanks, in hearing and keeping the word of God, and in walking in the Light that we find ourselves most satiated, most filled by the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. Surrender your senses then to Christ immolated for our sins. Partake in the sober inebriation of the Spirit. Make of this Lent through the intercession of our Lady, in conformity with Christ crucified, and by the Holy Ghost an spotless oblation pleasing to the Father “for an odor of sweetness.” May Christ reign supreme over every heart as the King of Love and Master of our senses.