THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
GOSPEL. ST. LUKE xi, 14-28.
(The Dumb and Unclean Spirit. Jesus is Scourged.)
At that time Jesus was casting out a devil, and the same was dumb; and when He had cast out the devil, the dumb spoke: and the multitudes were in admiration at it: But some of them said: He casteth out devils, by Beelzebub, the prince of devils. And others tempting, asked of Him a sign from heaven. But He seeing their thoughts said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself shall be brought to desolation, and house upon house shall fall. And if Satan also be divided against him self, how shall his kingdom stand? Because you say, that through Beelzebub I cast out devils. Now if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I by the finger of God cast out devils, doubtless the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things are in peace which he possesseth. But if a stronger man than he come upon him and overcome him: he will take away all his armor wherein he trusted, and will distribute his spoils. He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me, scattereth. When the un clean spirit is gone out of man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding, he saith: I will return into my house whence I came out. And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than him self, and entering in they dwell there. And the last state of that man becometh worse than the first. And it came to pass: as He spoke these things, 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 who hear the word of God and keep it.
Man is often dumb and his tongue is tied, when it is his duty to defend God s honor, to profess his faith, to correct his neighbor, or to accuse himself uprightly in confession. How is it with you, O Christian soul, in this respect? How often is your tongue misused for slander and calumniation, for violating the law of charity, for murmuring and complaining, for uttering angry, envious and immodest words? All of these sins are a source of joy for the unclean spirit. How many souls does the craft of Satan bring into eternal ruin through the misuse of the tongue; whereas Solomon says, in silence the heart finds time to instruct the mouth and to accustom the tongue to guide itself according to the rule of meekness, prudence and Christian charity.
How severely has your Savior expiated these sins by His cruel scourging. Contemplate Him as He shudders and trembles at the pillar, while the soldiers push Him about and divest Him of His clothing. Behold Him naked in boundless anxiety and shame to do penance for our immodesty; the blows of the whips and the curses of the soldiers in crease His pain beyond all measure. They beat Him until His most holy body becomes one wound, and looking upon His cruel executioners with eyes filled with blood He begs for mercy; but in vain. Can you, O Christian soul, with your many sins, bear this pitiful look of your Savior?
LET US PRAY.
We beseech Thee, Almighty God, regard the prayers of Thy humble servants, and stretch forth in our defense the right hand of Thy majesty.
O scourged God and Savior, in humble contrition for our sins, we thank Thee for the sufferings which Thou didst endure for us, through Thy awful scourging, and for the lesson Thou didst teach us through Thy miracle upon the dumb man. We beseech Thee for the grace to use our tongue always for the honor of Thy Father and for the benefit of our fellow men, and to treat our body as the temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.