3rd Sunday of Lent 19.3.17 Spiritual warfare
The greatest command we are given is to love God with our whole hearts and minds (Mt 22,37).
This should be easy, given that God is the source of all that is good and loveable, and therefore should be attractive to us.
But sin has entered the world and clouded our vision; and we make some very poor decisions, many of which are further sins, clouding matters even further.
People are not born loving God (Our Lady a notable exception). Original sin means that we love ourselves first, and others (including God) as we can fit them in. There is not much love for God, not to start with anyway.
We follow Israel over the desert in this Lenten season. In our case the arrival point is a fuller knowledge and love for God.
We have escaped from Egypt, crossed the river, and we do not look back.
We are free, but not yet out of danger. Just as the Egyptians chased the Jews into the desert, so the devil chases us.
He fights hard. Today’s Gospel describes how he gathers reinforcements after one defeat, and comes back even harder.
The enemy will attack in waves. He will not let up. He wants our soul; to drag us down to hell. We must remember that at all times.
It does not look like a furious battle. We cannot see it. But we go too much by physical appearances, and in this case more than ever.
If the sky is blue and the grass is green, we say all is well. No sign of trouble.
Out of our sight, but all around us, the good and evil angels are fighting over each one of us. Over our souls, for the will, the soul of each one, our basic loyalty.
Till the hour of our death.
For us at the ground level, it amounts to trusting and obeying God.
Trusting Him that as He has rescued us a million times before, He will do so into the future.
Obeying Him in all things whether we like the command or not, or whether we can see the point of it; but conceding that God is likely to know better than we do!
This is progress across the desert for us. This is our part in the battle. We fight just like lower ranked soldiers by immediate and complete obedience to whatever command we receive.
(as did Our Lady and St Joseph).
We come to love God as we see the beauty of His will, and how doing things His way makes sense of everything.
If the Israelites had obeyed and trusted God, they would have crossed the desert a lot faster than the 40 years it took.
As we grow stronger, the way becomes clearer, and the Church becomes, as we are supposed to be, the light of the world (Mt 5,14).
Presently the devil runs rings around people. He should not have so much freedom. We have given it to him; we have made it easy for him by questioning and complaining about everything.
The whole society is infected. For too long the devil has had his way.
Everyone is vulnerable. Anyone can fall, even if previously strong. We have to keep up the vigilance, all the way to the end.
The Church as a whole, and each member, has the obligation to love God first, to seek Him above all things. To give clear teaching and example to all, especially the young.
We will not let the devil back in. It is all the way forward from here.