To be pure of heart in the biblical sense means, above all, to have our eyes focused straight on God, or to be single-minded. In other words, blessed are the single-minded, the people who take whatever happens in their lives and focus it all toward God. They are single-mindedly concerned about worshipping God in every possible way they can.
Born in 1844 near Brescia in northern Italy, Innocent was already a diocesan priest and 30 years of age when he requested admission into the Capuchin Franciscan Order in 1874. He served as assistant novice master and then director of candidates for the order.
Innocent showed a special gift in working with the young men seeking to follow the Franciscan life. He loved his pupils, and they loved him. He preached exterior mortification, especially in controlling the tongue, but he knew that exterior discipline is hypocrisy if not founded on interior mortification. And as a preacher of prudence, Innocent was able to say with St. Francis: "Let everyone pay attention to his own nature. For, while one person can get along with less indulgence, I would not have another, who requires more, try to imitate him; but rather let him take his own nature into account and grant it what it truly needs."
This ascetic friar, only 45 years old, died on March 3, 1890, from influenza while on a preaching tour. He was beatified by Pope John XXIII in 1961. Both miracles from his beatification process were the cure of terminally sick children.
Innocent preached mortification—a phrase that usually brings to mind giving up something we enjoy. But his strongest emphasis was on controlling the tongue—giving up careless and hurtful speech. Words that belittle us chip away at our confidence; the sting of harsh words can inflict lasting scars. Racial and ethnic slurs undermine the unity of the human race. Innocent also preached the importance of changing our hearts. Being careful about the words we use helps to soften them.
I remind myself that, as I sit here now, God is gazing on me with love and holding me in being. I pause for a moment and think of this.
Lord you gave me life and the gift of freedom. Through Your love I exist in this world. May I never take the gift of life for granted. May I always respect the right to life of others.
Knowing that God loves me unconditionally, I look honestly over the last day, its events and my feelings. Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks. Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.
The Word of God
Reading 1 Jer 7:23-28
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.
Responsorial Psalm PS 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 Jl 2:12-13
Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, for I am gracious and merciful.
Gospel Lk 11:14-23
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."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ The way in which Jesus and his opponents conduct their arguments often appears puzzling to us. The core issue here is the source of Jesus' power when he expels demons from people. Is he tapping into the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, or is he calling on the power (the "finger") of God? If you were present, what would you have thought?
▪ Notice how Jesus points to his exorcisms (carried out with the power of God) as signs that the kingdom of God has come among us. This is true of all his miracles.
What is stirring in me as I pray? Am I consoled, troubled, left cold? I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting at my side and share my feelings with him.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Saint Katharine Drexel, Virgin (Optional Memorial)
Walk in all the ways that I command you. (Jeremiah 7:23)
Would you ever choose to be mute or deaf? It's a silly question, isn't it? No one would actually choose to live with disabilities like these. Yet in today's readings, we read about people who have chosen to be deaf to God's voice and to remain silent instead of sharing his truth.
In the first reading, Jeremiah complains that people are intentionally being deaf to the Lord and the prophets. "They obeyed not, nor did they pay heed" (Jeremiah 7:24). In the Gospel, Jesus heals someone who is mute. So far so good. But instead of rejoicing, the people who witness this healing refuse to admit that something special has happened. They remain mute about it and instead use their mouths to accuse Jesus of being in league with the devil.
We may find ourselves in these readings—but not necessarily because we have chosen to ignore the Lord. We may lack confidence or face barriers that keep us from hearing his voice or sharing his goodness. "Why would Jesus want to speak to me?" we think. Or "I'm too scared to talk about the Lord."
How can we overcome these spiritual handicaps? Jeremiah offers one answer: "Walk in all the ways that I command you" (Jeremiah 7:23). And Jesus tells us, "Whoever does not gather with me scatters" (Luke 11:23). In other words, if you want to hear the Lord, try to obey his commands and make it a point to "gather" with him and his people at Mass. Let the readings sink into your heart. Carefully follow the words of the Eucharistic Prayer. When you receive Communion, ask him to open your ears and your mouth just a little bit more. And when you "go in peace," resolve to cooperate with him as best you can.
You don't have to "feel" anything at first—and quite possibly you may not. But if you are faithful over time, you will begin to recognize God's voice in your day. You'll begin to see his presence in the people around you. And seeing and hearing, you won't be able to keep quiet. You'll want to tell people about the revolution that Jesus has begun in you!
"Lord, I want to hear your voice and speak your praises. Help me to be faithful to you so that my ears and mouth will be opened more and more!"
my2cents: The Lord says today "Listen to my voice; then I will be your God". Have you ever heard His voice? Often you'll hear people say "God spoke to my heart". This is an appropriate manner of listening...with the heart. If you can't hear Him, you're not letting Him speak. It's very simple. Will your disobedient children ever turn to God? The Prodigal Son will be proclaimed in the Gospel this Sunday. The story has a happy ending...ultimately, the son, the child listens and obeys. Watch what the Lord says today too "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". And this isn't a story of a long time ago, no, this is God's love story with you right now, for He is still untiringly, did you get that? UNTIRINGLY sending you His love messages, His servants, His prophets. Did you know that I am a prophet? Did you know that I prophecy all the time? Did you know that I am a servant of God? Did you know that God is sending me untiringly to you? "Listen to my Voice" says the Lord. Listen to my messenger.
Ok, wait up, did Adrian just set himself up on a pedestal? LOL! I did it on purpose so that you would read those words "I am a prophet" and "I am servant of God". Because we are baptized as Catholics as a "priest, prophet, and king". Pay attention because this will take great effect in what is to come. First the Psalms we sing. By the way, I was just googling Jewish exorcisms...not much was found, rather, they said they would sing, or King David played a harp tune and sing to berid of evil spirits. Realize, singing is praying twice. Let us sing the Psalms today " If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts." click and sing later today if you want! :) Wait, should we put it for later? Should you? Procrastination makes for tears, as in the case when someone dies and you never went to see them, make amends, and say "I Love You". This is what God is saying right now, "Listen to My Voice", if you hear it today, don't make your heart hard... Jesus comes into our lives today, and He encounters hardened hearts. They accuse Him of casting off demons by being the prince of demons. Is that crazy? We point the finger, and the rest point back. Hardened hearts. And speaking about fingers, listen to His word today " if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you." OOOoooh, this gives me spirit chills, so awesome. God says "The Kingdom of God has come upon you!!" Up on your face, upon your soul! Upon for you to be saved! It takes me back to the time there was a king in the book of Daniel (5:25), King Belshazzar, he took the holy cups and vessels from the temple to party, to get drunk off of and use and abuse. This abuse is what happens in our day, when we use and abuse the Lord, in the way we speak and treat one another. The Lord comes into the story with King Belshazzar, and the king sees a hand appear, writing on the wall, OOOOoooh, the finger of God was upon them, writing words like Mene, Tekel and Peres. What does Mene mean? King Belshazzar freezes and implores for a holy man to come into his life and interpret the meaning: MENE, God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it! Jesus brings the finger of God into the kingdom of evil, the hardness of hearts. Now, either you are with Him or I am not. TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; Jesus finds us in dire need of a savior, He has come, either I am with Him, or we are not. PERES, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians. And today our Lord speaks the realization of this to the people and us today "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?" To be under the possession of the world is to be in self destructive mode. Those on drugs can testify that they push the limits, to the point of death. Sin does this to us. Drugs is a very light metaphor for the body to the spirit. Sin is self destructive to our soul. Jesus wants us to point outward, stop looking out after ourselves only. What does this mean? It means repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. It means remember we are dust and will return to dust. It means conversion. It means BELIEVE! It means, let's GO! Are you coming or not? The Lord is asking today, "are you with me or not?". I told the kids in RCIA when we read you must hate your father, mother, brothers and sisters so that you can love God. I asked them what this means? In simple terms, you either love God or you do not. Either you love them more, or not. Either you love worldly things more, or not. Either you love temporal things more, or not. Hardened hearts are all over the place, and they have every excuse to be hard. Hardness is weakness. Hardness is a starving soul. Hardness is poor in spirit. JESUS found Himself among starving and poor souls, accusing Him of things they were living out, trying to make Him one of them. Jesus is not simply one of us, He is the WAY to defeat death and sin. The finger of God has come upon you, right here, right now, and it is good, and that's all we need, His law, His command, and it started today in Holy Scripture
"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."