Today’s Scriptures have a common theme; namely, unrequited love. Unrequited love has been a frequent subject in popular culture. Movies, books and songs often portray the would-be lover's persistence as paying off when the rejecter comes to his or her senses. The comics strip Peanuts features multiple different characters engaged in unrequited love relationships. Commenting on the abundance of unrequited love in the series, author Charles Schulz said that he did not know why there is so much unrequited love, but it is something everyone can relate to.
God sent so many prophets to warn the people of Israel that they were dangerously ignoring God’s covenant of love. In today’s reading from the Prophet Jeremiah, God tells Jeremiah that “they will not listen to you either.” God knows that the people will continue to reject the overtures of love; despite that, God persists. One can only marvel at the fact that Jeremiah was told that they people would not listen, yet he too is persistent in calling the people back to God’s love.
When Jesus is accused of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, he responds by telling them bluntly, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” Just as they rejected all of the prophets who came before him, Jesus knows that he will also be rejected. This alone should tell us something about the divinity of Jesus. Like the One who sent him, he takes on the task of preaching the nearness of the kingdom of God despite the fact that it will result in his death.
Lent is the time to unblock our ears and cast away our hardened hearts. Lent is the time to listen. Like the boy who runs away from his father with his inheritance, we are called to “come to our senses,” to respond to the message of God’s love for us as we approach the life-giving days of the celebration of the Paschal Mystery.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator